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.