By Bukar Bolori
ActionAid Nigeria has said the leadership crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of its national convention slated for March 26, 2022, should attract the attention of all Nigerians as it portends a great threat to the democratic trajectory in Nigeria.
The non-governmental organisation, in a press release issued after it’s Board of Trustees review of the State of the Nation on Saturday, said: We have reviewed developments in government, politics, the economy, and security during the last quarter, particularly as they affect vulnerable groups: women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and youths, and have decided to share our views and recommendations on the way forward.
The NGO said: “The President’s assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is commendable and proper implementation will further deepen Nigeria’s democratic experience. However, the leadership crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of its national convention slated for March 26, 2022, portends a great threat to the democratic trajectory in Nigeria.”
Other observations, the NGOs came out with include: “The rejection of the five (5) proposed Gender Bills in the 5th Constitution Alteration Bills by the two Houses of the National Assembly on 1st March 2022 threatens the achievement of adequate women representation in governance and inclusion of women in decision making in Nigeria.
“The peaceful conduct of the FCT Area Council election is commendable, though, INEC ‘s administration of the election fell short of the expected standard, especially in the light of the fact that the Commission had repeatedly assured citizens of its readiness to conduct the election. In addition, the election was not devoid of vote trading.
“Fuel scarcity persists across major cities in the country with cost of transportation and consumables increasing astronomically following the importation of adulterated fuel by some marketers. Acute shortage of aviation fuel (Jet A1) has also negatively impacted the aviation industry and the economy. It is disturbing that the NNPC and other regulators in the downstream sector continue to watch as Nigerians and businesses undergo this harrowing experience without penalizing the culprits behind the importation of the adulterated fuel.
“There seems to be a lack of seriousness in addressing the failing educational system in Nigeria. While the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has always demanded an improvement of the conditions of service, there appears to be a deeper problem which bothers on quality and standards of teaching, infrastructure, and general governance structure of the entire educational system.
“Nigeria is faced with an unprecedented wave of different but overlapping security crises. Insecurity in Nigeria has risen sharply over the last few years. In almost every region of the country there are three major security issues: communal clashes/civil unrest, and kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) and ritual killings.
“The Nigerian government’s evacuation of its more than 12,000 citizens studying and living in Ukraine is commendable after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. We urge the government to do more in relocating the affected students to other educational institutions in Europe.
“As countries across the globe seek creative ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic; African countries like Tanzania are making moves to produce local vaccines while UAE is offering free PCR testing on arrival to promote tourism, PCR test in Nigeria remains a lucrative business benefiting the rich while cost effective and sustainable strategies to tackle the pandemic is yet to be clearly articulated.
“Ritual killings are now on the rise in Nigeria. While the quest and desperation to get rich quick especially among young people has been linked to poverty and greed, some persons apprehended for ritual killings and witch doctors who perform the sacrifices have insinuated that politicians, government officials, and wealthy businessmen are their sponsors.
“The decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cease funding commercial banks with hefty forex before the end of the year 2022, urging them to source forex to operate, further increases the disparity between the official rate in the official and parallel markets. Nigeria still being heavily import dependent and with businesses sourcing their forex from the parallel market, this is manifesting in the inflation rate and high cost of living. This is increasing the number of people living in poverty and worsening their survival status.
It however called on the National Assembly to substantiate it’s commitment to gender equality by re-presenting and re-considering not just three but all the five proposed Gender Bills in the 5th Constitution Alteration Bills, insisting that Nigerian women deserve a constitution that guarantees: an irreducible minimum of 111 seats for women in the National Assembly; Indigeneship, citizenship, 35% in political party leadership and more appointive positions.
It stated that: “As the 2023 general elections draw nearer, INEC should take lessons from the FCT polls and re-evaluate its readiness for subsequent elections. We call on INEC to improve on logistics coordination, retrain staff on the use of the BVAS and review the accessibility of polling units with registered voters who are PWDs.”