The State of the Nation
2020 has been a momentous year for Nigeria. First, the COVID-19 global pandemic further exposed the fragility of the country’s socio-political foundations. The state proved unable to respond to the needs of its citizens at a time of crisis. Secondly, the #EndSARS protests were the largest in the history of Nigeria. Youth-led mobilisations in Nigerian cities and globally expressed the outrage of the people against a failed system. The response of the Nigerian government to the popular and peaceful protests was reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship. We are, again witness to an escalation of state impunity and brazen disrespect for the rule of law and human rights in our country, as exemplified by the repression and attacks on #EndSARS protesters, the #Lekki killings, the Oyigbo massacre of civilians by men of the Nigerian military. The continuing trials and restrictions on the movement of Omoyele Sowore, and other activists and journalists, and fragrant disrespect and disregard for court orders and judicial pronouncements show shrinking civic and political spaces, which exacerbate a general state of insecurity and palpable tension in Nigeria at time of worsening social and economic conditions for most citizens.
More Nigerians are sinking into poverty than in any other country in the world. Almost one hundred million Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty even as the political elite and their cronies continue to profiteer from public resources. Over a million Nigerians are living in IDP camps as a result of violent conflicts. In the Boko Haram war in the northeast, incessant bandit killings in the northcentral, the Biafra secessionist agitations, kidnappings across the country, extrajudicial killings by men of the Nigerian Police, massive and ongoing corruption, enormous unemployment, we see overwhelming evidence of a Nigeria state in deep crisis.
Today, after more than twenty-one years of civil rule, more than ever, Nigeria is witnessing the worst period in its history with a glaring collapse of governance structures across the land. This, therefore, is a time for democracy defenders and concerned citizens to intervene to rescue Nigeria. The Conveners of the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference believe in the imperative of civic intervention of the Pan-Nigerian character reminiscent of the 1990s pro-democracy movement in the face of the current struggle for a better Nigeria. Enduring nation-states that work for their citizens are built through the conscious will and actions of individuals and groups who envision and act, at different moments, to instil alternative national ethos and practices.
The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference, 2020
The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference is an annual event that brings together veterans of the pro-democracy movement and younger activists and serves as a platform for inter-generational dialogue. The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference, 2020 will enable pro-democracy activists, social justice advocates and organic scholars to examine the democratic practices in Nigeria since 1999 in the light of recent repression of the #EndSARS protest and, and to discuss options for sustaining the popular democratic movement in the country.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been called upon to take certain key steps that are necessary in tackling the nation’s current stagflation and by so doing, forestall further economic decline.
A socio-economic rights group, SOCIAL ACTION, which made the call in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital in a release in response to recent inflation figures made public by…
A non-governmental organization, Social Action, says Nigeria’s over-reliance on oil caused another recession.
Lillian Akhigbe, Communications Manager, in a statement on Thursday, noted that successive governments at all tiers neglected Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs)…
The recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria has fallen into an economic recession portends that the nation’s economy contracted in the last two quarters of the year spanning April to September, 2020. The second quarter (April – June) witnessed a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth by -6.10%, while in the third consecutive…
The recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria has fallen into an economic recession portends that the nation’s economy contracted in the last two quarters of the year spanning April to September, 2020. The second quarter (April – June) witnessed a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth by -6.10%, while in the third consecutive quarter (July – September), the GDP further shrunk by -3.62%. The news of the country’s slide into economic recession has elicited reactions from stakeholders across the country. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed in her response, stated that, “While the economy entered into recession in the third quarter (July – September, 2020), the trend of the growth suggests that this will be a short-lived recession and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession”.
The #EndSARS protest in Nigeria which started out as a clamour for the scrapping of a notorious Police unit, Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS) for the acts of brutality meted on innocent Nigerians by officers of the Squad, turned out to be an effective means through which young Nigerians expressed a myriad of grievances to the Nigerian government. When the government announced the disbandment of SARS, more Nigerians took to the streets to join in the protests, partly due to past betrayal by the same government which failed to implement initial orders it had made with respect to SARS. Moreso, the #EndSARS protest became a popular vehicle to drive change in various sectors, with Nigerians demanding for better governance and decent living standards.
As the protests against police brutality which erupted in several states across Nigeria last week, continues unabated, thousands of Nigerians have remained on the streets to protest against the high-handedness of the Police, which is symptomatic of bad governance in the country. The protesters are demanding for an immediate institutional reform of the Police and other government institutions, in order to address the systemic rot, corruption and wastage of resources that have been the hallmarks of the nation’s misgovernance for decades. In the light of these protests, the Federal Capital Territory Security Committee in Abuja, recently issued a ban on the #EndSARS protest in Abuja, for supposed violation of the COVID-19 protocols. This is arising from the concern that despite the dissolution of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad, FSARS, by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the peaceful protests have continued in several parts of the country.
Following the recent disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Nigerian government, the Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) wishes to draw the attention of the government and the public, to the increasing cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) involving some unscrupulous security operatives in Nigeria. Issues of human rights abuse perpetrated against the girl child must be brought to the fore, in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl child, which was marked across the world yesterday, October 11, 2020. There have been allegations of rape, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence meted out against women and girls by law enforcement agents. There also appears to be a conspiracy of silence whereby, security agents found complicit, are neither suspended from office immediately for their unprofessional conduct, nor made to face judicial sanction. Women’s rights have been flagrantly violated and the law enforcement agents saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the enforcement of these rights are now increasingly indicted in the physical and sexual abuse of women and girls.
Maimuna Dahiru tending her vegetables
By Joy Bitrus Ashalva, Project Officer, Social Action
Maimuna Dahiru is a 35-year-old woman originally from Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State in North-Eastern Nigeria. A mother of eight children, including five girls and three boys, Maimuna and her family fled when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Baga town in December, 2018. Since 2013, particularly in 2015, Boko Haram fighters have raided Baga and surrounding villages, killing thousands of people and burning homes and public buildings. Given the fluid security situation, people sometimes return to their community after periods of calm only for the insurgents to strike again.
Picture shows CRC members leading a protest to seek a reversal of the government’s policies
As Nigeria marked its 60th Independence Anniversary on October 1 this year, the Civil Rights Council (CRC) established by Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, commemorated the nation’s history with a protest march to draw attention to the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. It will be recalled that the Nigerian economy experienced a decline, following the COVID-19 lockdown, and many Nigerians faced biting hardship as a result. Amidst these occurrences, the Federal Government suddenly announced an increment in tariff of essential commodities such as Electricity and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The inflation in the cost of these commodities had negative impacts on other essential services and inevitably increased daily cost of living. This generated reactions from organized labour and Civil Society groups in Nigeria, leading to a national debate and call for mass action in the country. CRC galvanized its structures to participate in this national debate and to initiate a mass protest on the Nation’s Independence Day Anniversary.