Lagos – The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) on Saturday says the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has been trying to live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the group, Mr Alex Omotehinse, made the remark in an interview at the 2018 National Liberation Day of the group in Lagos.
The day, tagged “Declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day After 25 Years, What Next?”, had hundreds of rights group members in attendance.
Ometehinse said “governance is not an easy task, I think President Buhari is trying to live up to expectations.”
The activist, however, urged the President to intensify efforts toward tackling poverty, insecurity and economy and the hope that the late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, stood for.
The chairman commended Buhari for declaring June 12 as Democracy Day as against May 29 and the award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) to the late Abiola.
Omotehinse, who also commended the President for the award of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) on the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, said human rights were non-negotiable.
He explained that it was late Fawehinmi that declared June 23 as the National Liberation Day because it was the day the June 12, 1993 election was annulled by the military administration led by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
He added that June 23, 1994 was also the day late Abiola was arrested by the military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, saying June 23 remained a memorable day.
Omotehinse, who frowned at monetisation of politics in Nigeria, said that elective and appointive positions must be made less attractive.
He commended the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Edgal Imohimi, for partnering with civil society organisations.
The Guest Speaker at the event, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who commended the CDHR for always defending the rights of the common man, said that posterity would remember the price the group played in the June 12 struggle.
On the way forward after declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day, Rhodes-Vivour said that Nigeria had to do a lot on electoral violence, ballot snatching, disenfranchisement of voters to move the nation’s democracy forward.
“We need do a lot to make our election free, fair and acceptable. Some of our elections were marred with violence, rigging, ballot snatching and inducement.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must do more to ensure that workers who are busy in their professions are provided opportunity to register, especially on weekends.”
The speaker urged the President to focus attention on insecurity, human rights violation by police and ensure transparent leadership and justice.
Mr Godwin Anyebe, the National Vice President of CDHR, said “the struggle has just started because this is not the Nigeria that MKO Abiola dreamt and stood for.
“MKO was a Pan-Africanist. His main dream was to eradicate poverty.
“For me, democracy has not started in Nigeria, until every Nigerian child has access to free education, free healthcare, shelter over our head, fairness, equity and justice before we say we are practising democracy.
“We must go back to restructuring, food must be on our tables and there must be adequate security.”
Mr Adetunji Adebajo, the Secretary, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (Chevron Branch) said that June 12 represented unity and brotherliness of Nigerian people.
Adebajo, who urged the President to look into various reports of constitutional conferences, said such consideration would provide a road map to producing a constitution that would guarantee true federalism.
He added that “the President should summon courage and demonstrate patriotism and ignore all unpatriotic individuals, groups and nationalities standing against restructuring and true federal system of government.
“Genuine federalism is the most ideal political system in all multi-ethnic nationality countries throughout the world.” (NAN)