Agwai, Onaiyekan, Jega others call for National People’s Conference to address Nigeria’s political structure

Some elder statesmen and prominent activists say Nigeria is on autopilot.

John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd.), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Dr Nguyan Shaku Feese, Dr Usman Bugaje, Adagbo Onoja, Amb. Fatima Balla, Ambassador Zango Abdu, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Chris Kwaja, Dr Hussaini Abdu, Kemi Okenyodo, Jim Gala, Aisha Muhammed Oyebode and Tsema Yvonne said this in a joint statement

They spoke under the auspices of the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance (NWGPG).

They called themselves a group of Nigerian civic and thought leaders.

According to them, the Nigerian State is on autopilot and is currently not being governed.

“The result is that corruption has gone completely out of control, as there is a concerted effort to dismantle anti-corruption agencies and render them ineffective, while evidence of corruption is growing, the prosecution has slowed down considerably,” they said.

They said the time for citizens’ action was now, asking Nigerians not to agonize any more, but organize.

“The civil society actors noted that in the absence of a binding narrative, there are series of conspiracy theories that have emerged, with immense capacity to divide the country along the sharp lines of ethnicity and religion, which is further sustained by the absence of strategic communication between the Nigerian state and its citizens.

“This situation is further heightening the level of desperation among the citizens that are increasingly being detached from the everyday governance of the Nigerian State,” they said.

The group lamented that increasing insecurity across the country continues to gallop towards the abyss due to the lack of political will and the inability of the country’s security architecture to manage the multiple challenges.

They also warned that confidence towards the Nigerian state is very low, heightening the divides in the federation and creating widespread demands for dialogue and consensus-building on restructuring which the government has been tone-deaf to.

“Indeed, the presidency has adopted the strategy of responding to demands for an urgent and holistic review of the basic structures and governance processes of our nation with demeaning statements.

“This tendency to abuse those who legitimately ask those with the responsibility to listen to popular voices is alienating more Nigerians from the administration and playing into the hands of those who feed off desperation.

“The nation needs to adopt a sense of urgency in the way it deals with rapidly accumulating liabilities.

“Nigerians cannot wait for the convenience or pleasure of leaders in deciding what is essential.

“We must avoid the tendency to ignore our problems until they become a lot worse in terms of the capacities of leaders to deal with them.

“We call on younger Nigerians, in particular, to get involved in the search for a future without current levels of bitterness and dislocations,” they said.

They, therefore, recommended that Nigerians in their communities, associations, civil society groupings, women’s groups and youth groups should accelerate ongoing discussions to deepen the emerging consensus of how to build a national platform to address Nigeria’s political structure and process.

They said the coalition-building process was aimed at the convening of a Peoples’ National Conference.

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