For Immediate Release
14th November 2020
Text of a Press Release Issued by the Board of Trustees of ActionAid Nigeria, after a virtual meeting to review of the State of the Nation on the 14th day of November 2020
The Board of Trustees of ActionAid Nigeria following its 42nd meeting held virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has deemed it fit as citizens of the nation and as active agents of change to make the following comments, observations and recommendations on the State of the Nation.
While we recognise the efforts by the current administration to move the country forward, particularly at an unprecedented time when the world is battling a pandemic, our observations and recommendations are as follows:
- Lack of proper accountability mechanism for the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS and responsiveness of government over the years metamorphosed into a force associated with harassment of innocent citizens, extortion at gunpoint, and extrajudicial killings of suspects, innocent Nigerians and foreigners. This also snowballed into ENDSARS protests across the country with violent and devastating consequences.
- The Federal Government and ASUU’s prolonged failure to reach a mutual agreement invariably strengthens the decay in education to the disadvantage of the entire country. The unimplemented 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement remains a setback. ASUU kicked against the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), because it undermines university autonomy and is grossly incompatible with the university system. The University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which it believes is fraud and corruption-proof is at the final stage of integrity test. Going back to initiate a new platform which offers a similar service is perceived as both a waste of time and resources. The continued strike is not unconnected to the increasing youth restiveness witnessed in the country.
- The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has made some strides in terms of combating the dreaded coronavirus but the country’s limited testing capacity and inconsistent contact tracing remains a major concern. There has also been a troubling uptick in mystery cases which health experts believe raise more questions.
- The hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100% as well as the fuel price increase coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed, but it is also counterproductive. The privatization of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded the anticipated positive results. This is because through the privatization process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion. We are also surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset and Nigerians are still being made to pay more.
- Since the COVID-19 lockdown, a wave of rape and other forms of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) has increased. Since the commencement of lockdowns, reported cases of gender-based violence have substantially risen with a monthly increase of 149% in 23 out of the 36 states in Nigeria where we could obtain data on SGBV. Despite this, till date, only 17 out of 36 states and the FCT have passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in Nigeria.
- Regardless of claims of increased security measures by federal authorities, an atmosphere of insecurity persists across Nigeria. Increasing attacks are being reported in the northeast including reports of fresh attacks in Chibok, home of the Chibok girls who are yet to fully return home 6 years after their abduction, with 112 girls still missing.
- The attempts by the Federal Government to encourage local farmers and food producers over imports is commendable, however Nigeria is currently dealing with the twin crises of flooding and food shortage. This is threatening to push Nigeria into a devastating food crisis.
- The Federal Government should provide definite timelines for government’s response to youths’ demands. This can be kickstarted with investigations of the incident that transpired at Lekki Toll gate. Those who ordered the shooting, as well as the officers who fired at peaceful protesters must be brought to book openly. Those who sponsored hoodlums to disrupt the peaceful protests, attack their fellow citizens and destroyed properties must be identified and made to face the wrath of the law to pass a clear message that elites should desist from using young Nigerians for political gain. We call on the Federal Government to ask the Central Bank to unfreeze the accounts of EndSARS promoters without delay.
- We call on the Federal Government to rethink its stand on the IPPIS and pay the salaries of ASUU members and implement the FGN/ASUU agreement. What education needs now is for government to declare a state of emergency to re-build it. This re-building should start with proper funding on everything about education. Proper funding will ensure that the children of the poor, who cannot afford the prohibitive cost paid in private universities or do not have opportunities to study outside Nigeria, get quality education, which is not priced beyond their reach.
- We implore the Federal Government and sub-national governments to investigate the other myriads of problems raised with the outset of COVID-19, with a view to resolving all pending issues so as to maintain industrial harmony and avoid needless sufferings and death of Nigerians. It will also be an opportunity to strengthen our under-funded health facilities.
- The increase in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price has eroded the purchasing power of Nigerians. We recommend the reversal of the fuel price and electricity tariff, and request that meters be provided for all electricity consumers. The gains made on poverty eradication by the President and other stakeholders like ActionAid Nigeria are being eroded drastically because of monumental inflation.
- Sexual Gender Based Violence response services should be a basic and accessible service in every state of Nigeria. The minimum standards for prevention and response to SGBV in emergencies should be institutionalised. The foundational standards will help states engage communities better, support national systems, and collect data for effective utilization.The mitigation, prevention, and response standards will enable states to ensure access to reproductive health services for SGBV survivors, including clinical management of rape, distribution of dignity kits, and effective referral systems to facilitate access to psychosocial support, safety and security, justice and legal aid, and socio-economic support; while the coordination and operational standards will enable states conduct SGBV assessment, coordination, advocacy and communications, and secure human and financial resources in emergencies.
- We urge the Federal Government to continue to engage with key international actors including the United Nations, United States and the United Kingdom in providing support for the Nigerian forces & Multi-national Joint Task Force, MJTF in countering and ending insurgency in the Northeast. In addition, Nigeria should consider looking inwards for its own solution to end the growing insecurity in the country.
- To avert the looming food crisis, financial inclusiveness should be encouraged through increased access to low interest credit by the small-scale farmers, especially smallholder women farmers who produce over 70% of food consumed in the country.
ActionAid Nigeria is a national non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organisation, and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries. It works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
CONTACT - Lola Ayanda - Communications Coordinator - ActionAid Nigeria |