As Rafsanjani reflects on birthday, calls for urgent dialogue to tackle challenges
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Tuesday, decried use of democracy to loot and victimize Nigerians as these have led to the present predicament of insecurity and other issues.
This was stated in an interview with Vanguard by the Executive Director and Head of Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, as he marked his birthday today in Abuja.
While he thanked God for sparing his life amid the ravaging global pandemic, Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic including crisis facing Nigeria, said. “I thank God for sparing my life in the midst of COVID-19 and crisis facing Nigeria for remaining healthy to play active role to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians deserve to have good governance, transparency and accountability in the system.
“I am really grateful to God to know that God has spared my life to continue to carry out advocacy in terms of social justice, advocating for transparency and accountability, promote and advocate for human rights for all Nigerians irrespective of where they come from.
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“That is a major happiness that I have that I am still alive, healthy and active to continue to do the work I have been doing in the last 30 years of my life. This is really a great day for me.
“Marking of the birthday is to remind ourselves that all things are not well in Nigeria. We are faced with more dangerous situation brought by some people who profit from violence, supporting, sponsoring or turning around issues of violence and its root cause.
“Also the new emerging threats characterized by kidnapping, banditry by some young people who have been victims of ruling political class in Nigeria demanding for secession without reflecting on the consequences of that. We also must be concerned with this.
“The second aspect which is a reminder also in my birthday message is the increased shrinking of civic space. We are faced with another phase of threat of freedom of expression denial, freedom of press, intimidation and harassment of Nigerians who want to peacefully protest against the evil of bad governance in the country.
“The third aspect of the politics being played at the national, state and local level whereby the only governance that is very active in Nigeria is to scheme for looting, diversion of taxpayers’ money, out-right stealing and impunity by those who supposed to govern. So this is a big threat to the well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Democracy is not a license for looting, mobilisation of ethnic and religious dichotomy of hatred rather it is an opportunity to participate in the economic development of Nigeria, participate politically so that you are able to elect the right people and demand accountability from the people you have elected, and the right to contest if you so wish.”
He also pointed that, “Political participation has been hijacked and alienated to the very people that have an unexplained and questionable wealth, and those who put their money into election for profit making and not for governance. So these are major threats we are facing.
“My birthday message to all galvanized efforts and energy by Nigerians to ensure that issues of insecurity to ensure that issues of insecurity, impunity, abuse of rule of law, lack of space for media and civil society to demand for accountability are addressed, and these are things my birthday intends to give out so that as Nigerians we can come together to deal with issues that have brought us to what we are facing currently.”
He added that many young people are being abandoned and many graduates remain unemployed, and other societal issues have remained clog in the wheels of progress, prosperity and peace in the nation.
He called for reform to address these issues, and to eliminate elements who have put Nigerians in the mess through democratic means.
He also called on Nigerians to come together to dialogue instead of violence and make the rule of law paramount and pivotal in the process of solving this mirage of problems plaguing the country.
“We do not need tyranny, people who do not listen to other Nigerians, people who instigate and sponsor violence, and we do not want war in Nigeria, disharmony and other vices, and leaders and Nigerians together should work hand in hand to tackle the problems by respecting the law, and all of us to contribute meaningfully to the peace and development of our country”, he stated.