By Bartholomew Madukwe
National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, has dismissed reports that it started its struggle for democracy in the United States of America for fear of clampdown.
Mr. Uyi Meshack, who claimed to be a representative of NADECO, and Mr. M. Miller of Institute of Strategic Studies, ISS, had stated that the group started its campaign for democracy for Nigeria oversea, to avoid clampdown from the military government of the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
But NADECO’s General Secretary, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, dismissed the claim in a statement issued on Tuesday, saying the group was home-grown and only relocated some of its leaders overseas to regularly present its position to the international community.
The statement read: ‘’The National Democratic Coalition, NADECO’s attention has been drawn to a story titled ‘We chose US for our Conference to avoid Clampdown – NADECO’.
‘’NADECO disassociates itself from the views and opinions expressed by those who claimed to be representative of NADECO, Mr Uyi Meshack and Dr. M. Miller, representative of Institute for Strategic Studies, ISS. This is because, the two persons are unknown to NADECO and are not known to be our members.
‘’Secondly, we like to state categorically that it is historically false and inaccurate to claim that NADECO began its pro-democracy struggle outside Nigeria. Their wrong view is a further proof of their ignorance about the history of the formation of NADECO that it was an home-grown in conception, and presentation to both local and international publics in Nigeria.
‘’It was after Gen. Sani Abacha’s clamped down and repression was unduly intolerable that we officially sent some of our leaders overseas to regularly present our views and positions to the international community.
‘’ Thirdly, we like to reject the false claim that Nigerians are currently unable to discuss and canvass their divergent views because of the fear of clampdown and/or intimidation by Nigeria security agencies.
‘’Most Nigerians will reject this notion, particularly now that rancorous and opposing views and opposite street actions are regularly taking place undisturbed.
‘’NADECO will not allow its hard earned reputation to be exploited for whatever private and personal agenda of any group of people who were never known to be part of our ranks while we were in the trenches campaigning from May 1994 for restoration of democracy to Nigeria against the military dictatorship, led by Gen. Sani Abacha.’’