Calls for Okonjo-Iweala’s support to emerge WTO’s DG

CSOs speak on Biden’s victory, lessons learnt, and Nigeria’s future with US

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Sunday, expressed views about the emergence of Joe Biden as the winner of America’s 2020 presidential election against the incumbent President, Donald Trump, and pointed out lessons learned from the US institutions, electorates, political parties, electoral process and actions of the two candidates ahead of the 2023 general elections.

They also spoke on Nigeria’s future with the US, and called on the Biden’s presidency to support Dr Ngozi Okojo-Iweala’s emergence as World Trade Organisation’s Director General.

The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, said, “A win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a win for human rights globally because under the Trump presidency America has not being getting involved in global affairs, and from the tone of acceptance speech of the President-elect, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Vice President-elect, you can see that he has set the tone for America taking its place in world Affairs because the President-elect has said it in his speech that America must be respected all over the world.

“And what that means in diplomatic parlance what that simply means is America will soon resume its duty of policing the world and it is good for human rights.

“However, Conservative like President Trump has himself to be blamed because he was the one that repeatedly told his supporters to use the mailing ballot system and he kept saying it was fraud and he is crying foul.

“I believe and urge President Trump to toe the path of late Senator John McCain who lost to Barrack Obama was gracious and magnanimous in defeat and hailed Obama and the Black Community, and unified America. So President Trump should the same.

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“I see Joe Biden’s victory as win-win for human rights when you consider Africa, like what is going on in Cote D’Ivoire; glaring violation of constitutional democracy, the President has unconstitutionally declared himself President and going for third term. Look at what happened in Tanzania, Nigeria where human rights violation is at its record peak. During course of the campaign President-elect Joe Biden condemned the massacre at Lekki and called on President Buhari to do the right thing. So I believe we are going to see more of America going very harsh and hard on the Nigerian government on issues of human rights.”

The Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said, “There are few lessons Nigerians can learn from the Joe Biden’s election ahead of 2023. But I want us to put these at the back of our minds; the context is different-the political, legal and electoral contexts. In the US there are about 50 election jurisdictions like supposed to Nigeria in the centralization and management of elections, impact and how elections are conducted and qualities while in the US they have 50 electoral commissions with their own procedures, in fact, in a state you even have a plurality of rules because the local governments also have their own electoral laws and procedures and what the secretaries of states does just tries to have some levels of coordination.

“So it is important that as we think of the 2023 elections our electoral commission has power to conduct elections in the 36 states and 774 local government areas so there is some levels of centralization, although there is decentralization of the management of the results, collation process, but everything is sort of  centralized.

“Biden’s victory gives hope for democracy. At the global level there is a vacuum of leadership and when you look at the global arena this vacuum exists and it is mainly defined by populists and authoritarians.

“What we have seen in the US is the people of America pushing back some of the not too dictatorial but I would say racial policies of Trumps’ administration, and it shows that democracy works, the votes of the people does count and people can get change through the ballot I think it is very important.

“And Nigerians need to know this that violence is not what is going to fix our leadership problem, hatred for one another, vandalism is going to fix our problem even Boko Haram on whatever they stand is not what is going to make them achieve their goal.

“I think victory entrenched through the ballot is a powerful message Nigerians needs to learn. So it is important as we plan towards 2023 the state, government the people ensure that mechanisms are put to protect the sanctity of the ballot.

The second point is and a very profound message is whilst the country Nigeria is keep confronting different contestations and anger and disillusionment on the part of citizens and everyone in the country is really disenchanted with the state of leadership in the country that actually we can redefine our reality by getting to the voter register and voting come February 18, 2023.

“If you look at the turnout it is a strong message to Nigeria that 36 per cent 20 per cent or even 32 per cent turnout for our elections is no longer acceptable. The more people stay from voting in an election the more we will end up with irresponsible leaders who don’t have the requisite capacity and moral capital to provide the kind of leadership that Nigeria needs as a country.

“Nigeria should get ready to vote but before you vote for those who are not on the voter register should get on the voter register. Look at what happened in the Black Lives Matter Movement and how they translated that power, those kids on the streets didn’t just end on the streets they ensure they got to the voter register, and that is what we should aim for and INEC indicated that voter registration will commence first quarter of next year eligible Nigerians should troop in and get registered and to vote.

“It also places a burden on INEC that INEC could no longer voter registration as usual where people will show and data capturing machines are no longer working or where it will take five days for people to register before they vote that will be unacceptable by Nigerians.

”So INEC needs to show up to improve and ensure that voter registration starts the process will be seamless where people won’t spend less than five minutes and get registered.

”I think the parties need to learn from this that party ideology is central to driving any political party that is interested in using political power to serve the common goal. You can see how the Democratic Party ran a transparent candidate nomination process.

What can we learn from that? We need virile parties, rooted in party ideology and democratic, and I want political class to get this clearly that Nigerians will kick you out in 2023 if you don’t structure your party in a way to throw up candidates who are popular, have contents and capacity, be rest assured that Nigerians will kick you out.

“On the institutions and the role they play in a democracy. When you have weak institutions don’t expect democracy to flourish. Democracy provides you opportunity to strengthen your institutions.

“It is clear that even though Trump does not accept the outcome of the elections he has gone to the Supreme Court; they didn’t take arms against the state, people who are on the streets jubilating.

“So our security agencies is their loyalty is to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not to the President. It is disappointing that few weeks ago the police and the army declared their loyalty to the President and not to the Constitution and that is an aberration to the fidelity of the constitution, and that constitution is a sacred document and it created these institutions. So their loyalty should be to the constitution and not to any individual.

“And I am hoping that if Biden assumes office, he talked about from day one constituting a task force to work with the current administration to end the COVID-19 pandemic coronavirus.

“But I think first thing first I think America needs to support Dr Okonjo-Iweala. I think he will reverse whatever action or decision, and I will like to see more and  robust bilateral relation with the Nigerian government and increased trade that promotes our economic development and not our exploitation, cooperation on things around migration, education, and US has invested a lot of resources in Nigeria, no doubt, but I think we an do more.

“I hope Biden will do more and build a US-Africa strategy that does for me four things-one, promote regional integration and support the continental free trade agreement just to ensure our markets are also protected irrespective of US business interest. Two, that will also facilitate education and support Nigerian students’ development with US institutions. Thirdly, around peace and security that there will be increased cooperation, and lastly around anti-corruption and governance and the rule of law that the US will play a leading role to reminding Nigerian leaders on commitment to their people and those international norms and standards and more importantly visa bans are very good, but the US government should go beyond visa ban to ensure asset forfeiture or asset seizure as sanctions on Nigerian public leaders who undermine our democracy, abuse human rights, kill their people, and steal public funds a the expense of the people and state we will like to see more of that.

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“But above all this is victory for democracy, and this election has really shown that the will of the people is very powerful and that is what defines democracy, the American people have spoken and their institutions recognize that, and we hope that if the Nigerian people speak in Nigeria the Nigerian institutions will also respect the will of the people and ensure that it prevails. So these and many more should happen even before the 2023 elections.”

The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Ene Obi, said, “We congratulate Joe Biden, and it is being a beautiful election and was so watched that makes it one of the most watched elections that we have ever had around the world.

“There are a lot of lessons learned on mobilizing people to go and vote and working with those who have been there to mobilize the constituencies and it was also powerful that the voter turnout was something else, I don’t think America has had it this good. So we say congratulations and wish the American people well.

“In terms of the help it can give to Nigeria, I remember his powerful speech when he was a young senator on South Africa that tells you his own view on human rights, equality and that other people should not be looked down and people’s rights should be respected in wherever they find themselves. The course of social justice is something he has been standing so strong for.

“On the issue of Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, I believe Biden regime will be more friendly for a Nigerian coming in or African coming in that position. So we look forward to things ahead and hope that he works with the government or anti-corruption agencies to bring to book all corrupt Nigerians that are stacking their money in the US because he knows that doing that will be taking from the people.”

Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “Nigerians should not really expect anything, directly, from a man who was already going senile or mentally impaired and has now been “imposed” on the American people by the deep state and a global media conspiracy that have their own agenda, which has been impeded by the bullish Trump in the last 4 years.

“Biden’s Presidency will be like another Buhari’s regime, it will be used to peddle influence and it will be difficult to know who is really in charge, because his mental health is an open secret to the deep state actors who have been covering him up, and this will be exploited.

“But let me put this on record, it is going to be difficult going forward to get the US to sanction elections riggers in Nigeria, as we have seen in the last couple of years, because the Biden’s administration will not be different in approach to the EU and UK, who have refused to implement the Visa-Ban option.

“Gen. Buhari and his disciples see Biden as a better option they can work with, believing that they would be able to do things in the country, without any concern of US Embassy or American Reps in Nigeria, calling them to order.

“Biden’s administration will suffer heavily from political correctness, and he would be caught in between pleasing the centre of the left and the radicals, and there will be serious agitations from the people.”

Founder and President, One Love Foundation, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “Let me first congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election as President and Vice President of the United States of America.

“The election though hard fought was decided by the American people since the day of the physical ballot. The system they have built over the years protected the sanctity of the American votes and thereby protected the sense of national pride and honor.

“We never witnessed ballot snatching, stuffing or card reader malfunction, as it is wont with Nigerian elections under the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).

“We never saw court orders and counter orders, we never saw conflicting court judgments that beats commonsense and law itself.

“We saw opposing side process freely under eagle eyed Security with no harassment or brutality. We saw a system that works, consistently, coherently with commonsense backed by law. We saw a system that defied powerful men, we saw men of honor stood their grounds and we saw a citizen determined.

“These are what we hope for Nigeria, these are what we will work hard to bring, with hard work and perseverance. We can lose or be rigged out as many times but at the end we will win.

“Therefore, going forward, Nigerians should understand that elections are not won on social media. They should endeavor to register with INEC and get their PVCs. You saw how over 100 million people voted in America. We can do it here and get it right.

“I believe Mr. Biden already know the expectations of the American people. There’s urgent need to unite all irrespective of colour or race. The pride of American people was taken away so there’s urgent need for restoration of American glory; America need their allies back and their place as world leaders was under threat during Trump’s era. These and more is what the American people should expect.

“I don’t expect anything from him as a Nigerian. Therefore, I expect our leaders to work with such a mentality. We have what it takes to solve all our problems. The challenge we have as a nation is leadership.

When we get it right as a nation, you’ll discover western nations will even come here for help. Our leaders should wake up and fix the nation instead of looking for whom to help us.

“We can start by reducing the jumbo salaries and allowances our governors and senators are earning, empowering the military by increasing their salaries and general welfare including housing, health, and education for their children. Our military men and women deserve nothing but the best.

“The religious houses are not helping out. I feel their interest and focus is all about how to make money from politicians and their poor members.

“This is unacceptable to me with due respect to some genuine few ones among them. The activities of these Imams and Pastors should be regulated for the country to move forward because they now part of our problems.

“All summary, the Nigerian people should come together as one irrespective of tribe and religion; we should come together and discuss our future and how the nation should be governed. We can do it and we can solve all our problems without interference from the western world.

“Once we resolve all these issues, rule of law, industrialization and social justice will naturally be implemented. Therefore, there’s no need for external interference or whatsoever.

“Talking about Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, she will emerge as the next leader of WTO even without the support of America. America didn’t support Adesina as President of African Development Bank and he won. Ngozi will win even without their support.”

Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, said, “The key lessons from Joe Biden’s victory is that functional institutions are required to protect democracy. The media played a major role to protect the process by reporting all aspects of the election in real-time.

“The outcome of the US election also will help send a strong message to other countries like Nigeria to allow institutions to work. Joe Biden should use the opportunity of his presidency to address global issues like Climate Change which Donald Trump deliberately undermined in the last three years.

“The role of the US Government is very important and Joe Biden should work with other Countries to strengthen multilateral initiatives that will protect the global common goods. No doubt the Black Life Matters movement contributed to the victory of Joe Biden and the expectation is that police brutality and violence will be addressed.

“With the massive surge of support from the black and minority groups, Joe Biden should initiate progressive legislation that would tackle the problem of minorities and police violence across the United States.

“Under Biden’s Presidency cooperation between US and Nigerian Government should be improved and also provide an opportunity to support African Countries.

“Joe Biden should support debt cancellations for Nigeria and Africa Countries so that they can address the Post- Coronavirus- 19 crisis.

“He should support and also endorse Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the WTO top job and should also initiate a creative process to support the anti-corruption global campaign and the upcoming United Nations global conference on corruption.”

Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Rev Nnimmo Bassey, said, “The outcome of the US elections will have multiple impacts across the world. However, the amount of work to be done domestically in the USA will dampen the extent of engagements globally.

“The new president has a major challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as from the huge divisions in economic and social terms. Globally, the USA will return to the Paris Climate Agreement— but the impact will be mostly symbolic.

“We say so because no matter the government in power there, the country has always wielded its power to secure corporate interests, entrench false solutions through market mechanisms, and to weaken the Justice base of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,UNFCCC. Nigeria shouldn’t expect any significant change in the level of engagement from or by the USA.”

Director of Programmes, CAPPA, Philip Jakpor, said, “Americans have shown determination to ensure their votes count. Despite the Trump distraction, the majority of Americans wanted their votes to count and stood their grounds to ensure that happened. Joe Biden’s victory is a reflection of that painstaking determination and hard work.

“For them, every detail mattered, every vote counted. It’s the reflection of a people who believe that in the trajectory of their nation everyone has a role to play and must not be left out. They love their country. Unfortunately, it’s the opposite here

“I do not think we should expect too much from a Biden presidency because of the mess Trump has created and left for him to handle. The expectations are high. He is going to preside over a much-divided society, a health crisis caused by the coronavirus, and now evident ideological divide. Navigating all these will be quite hard and I daresay the average American wants him to hit the ground running. I anticipate minimal progress.”

President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “The first time that we should learn from the recent US Presidential election is that the US democracy is far from perfect and that every sensible nation fashions out their democracy to suit their customs and traditions and that no two nation are the same in every respect.

“The second thing is that it is patently stupid as well as unpatriotic to look towards the US or any other nations on earth for that matter for our salvation. Charity begins at home and we should be more concerned with how we can get along with ourselves than with what the US thinks of us.”


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