By OLAYINKA AJAYI
As the dust raised by a couple of open letters begins to settle and as the nation marches into another calendar year, Nigerians opine that time is already ticking away and everything must be done not only to raise their hopes but meet their expectations in 2014. Alhaji Shettima Yerima, an activist and President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana among others spoke with Saturday Vanguard on expectations from Jonathan-led government in 2014.
Government should focus on security —Alhaji Shettima Yerima
The major challenge we have now is lack of security in the country. So, government cannot do anything except it focuses on security. Government cannot perform its statutory functions under this atmosphere. To that extent, I think the government needs to focus on security more than any other area. This means giving the people a sense of belonging.
I do not see any other issue bigger than this right now. The President should ensure that the people begin to feel the impact of his governance. Nigerians must begin to feel the dividends of democracy. They need people-oriented government, they need a government that can communicate to them when things are not going on well and not necessarily compounding the problem just like Jonathan is surrounded with people who end up creating more problems. He should see himself as a national president and not allow people to corner him and make him look like an ethnic leader.”
Nigerians should demand for their rights in 2014 – Falana
Saturday Vanguard in an interaction with popular lawyer and renown human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, on Nigerians’ expectations in 2014, was told that unless genuine civil progressive forces mobilise Nigerians to demand for their rights, the government will not wake up to their responsibility. He further decried high level of illiteracy while children are roaming the streets.
On the crisis rocking the ruling party, Falana also said the defection from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressive Congress, APC would continue. “The crisis of underdevelopment in terms of infrastructural decadence, poverty, illiteracy and ignorance will continue in 2014 if genuine progressive forces in Nigeria do not gear-up to mobilise Nigerians to demand for their rights from the ruling class.
The irrelevant inter-class surge would not solve the problem confronting our people. A country where over 70million people are illiterate and 15.5million children are roaming the streets and a few people who have access to the media are entertained by open letters needs to do something.
The government would not move up to her responsibilities in 2014 unless the people are mobilised to demand for their rights. The politics of personality will continue to dominate the Nigerian scene and more defections would continue in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, whose umbrella has torn down the line and will no longer accommodate people with potentials.
The All Progressive Congress, APC, has the potential to wax stronger but unfortunately they have preoccupied themselves with people with expired ideas including those who brought Nigeria to where we are today. If these issues are not addressed in 2014, it will determine our fate as a nation,” he lamented.
Leaders should be held responsible for their failures —Aturu Human right activist and a constitutional lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, in his own opinion said Nigerians should assert their rights and take their destiny in their own hands by going to the national and local assemblies with placards demanding for their rights.
According to him: “Nigerians must understand that this country belongs to all of us and not to politicians or the elite alone. Democracy is about the people and if the people don’t ask questions, then those ruling us will continue to act the way they like. Nigerian can only be changed by Nigerians and for the change to come, they must ask questions from the so-called leaders.
If they are not satisfied with their responses, they should take to the streets and protest more. If their local governments as well as the National Assembly are not acting accordingly, they should carry placards and converge at the entrance until they are guaranteed that their needs will be met.
That is the only way they can make their intention known to the government. The open letter is just a gimmick preventing revolution from erupting in our nation. The only way forward is for our people to be more active by taking to the streets because members of the elite will not solve the problem for us. We want them to go. Nigerians in 2014 should assert their citizenship right no matter the circumstances they find themselves,” he stated.
National Conference is the most crucial thing now—Odumakin
The Publicity Secretary of a Pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin in his own view said the national conference will determine the continuity of the country as one entity even as it’s also a year of centenary celebrations of the country. His words: “2014 is a year of our centenary celebrations. It is 100 years of the amalgamation of Nigeria and there are so many issues around that amalgamation.
The way Nigeria has been managed over the years has created doubt in the minds of Nigerians as a project. It is a year that is important for us to discuss our nationhood. Every other thing will stem from that. Whether there will be 2015 or not, will be determined by how we handle 2014. A lot of issues have been raised by pundits, even internationally about what awaits Nigeria in 2015.
We must do everything possible to ensure that we have 2015 and that Nigeria continues beyond 2015. This will guarantee peace and stability among Nigerians. Again, if we can negotiate and reach a consensus in the National Conference, then peace and stability will reign. That is why it is the most crucial thing for 2014.
“The allegation of corruption and misappropriations of funds are just the peripherals of what is affecting the structure of Nigeria. There is no way corruption can be stopped in Nigeria until we change the constitution. Currently, we are operating a constitution that has immunity clause that embraces and promotes corruption.
You cannot endorse such constitution and claim you are fighting corruption. It is not possible because it was constituted with the aid of corruption. If we are talking of abuse of office, this constitution gives room for our leaders to abuse office. If we are talking of fixing infrastructures, our constitution encourages inefficiencies.
A national conference must solve our problems. Until we are able to change the constitution, the same issues that have afflicted us before will continue to afflict us until we fix the problem. It is like building a house on a faulty foundation. 2014 is a year we have to solve our foundational problem before we can move forward as a country. I see the National Conference creating a platform for solving our national problem. But without the National Conference, I perceive the outbreak of calamity in Nigeria.”