By Gabriel Ewepu and Fortune
Eromosele – Abuja
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Global Rights Executive Director, Abiodun Baiyewu, Thursday, said Nigerian needs leaders who would have respect for the civic space.
She stated this at the strategy meeting on part F of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, with the theme: “The CAMA Shrinking our Square: A critical Dialogue,” in Abuja.
This is even as she stated that the CAMA act is restrictive on NGOs and civil society organisations, adding that it is a collective responsibility of all bodies involved to effect a change.
She said, “The CAMA being a very good law for the business sector, is very restrictive on civil society organisations, NGOs, mosques, churches and everybody incorporated as a non-profit organisation under the CAC.
“It’s our duty to continue to think about these issues and challenge them, and that is what we are trying to do.
“As the 2023 elections approach, we need as a society begin to ask for politicians who would be respectful of our civic space, politicians who would seek to build a society in which a voice of the people can be heard rather than suppressed.”
On his part, Professor of Practice, The Fletcher School, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, explained that the issue of the 2023 general elections are ‘existential’ for Nigeria, stressing that the country may just be at an edge.
“The 2023 general elections are existential for Nigeria, it’s more than just protecting the civil space, it’s a question of whether or not Nigeria exists as a country in which we can all coexist.
“People are being abducted in parts of Abuja and other states, people cannot go to the mosque or church and worship safely.
This is about human life and coexistence as we know it. We are in a very dangerous spot.
“The thing is power has left the President but it has not settled on anybody and so everybody has a responsibility at this particular time to queue together.
We can disagree on who we vote for but what we cannot disagree on, is that we need a space in which to disagree.
“Whether PDP, APC, Peter Obi, Kwankwaso, and a lot of them, let us at least agree that we need to protect a Nigerian space in which those divergent manifestations can take place.
Everyone, journalists, politicians, faith workers, teachers, in our little spaces let us exert influence to make sure that people behave properly and not further poison the environment, this is for me where we should begin from.”