Press Release Issued by the Board of Trustees of ActionAid Nigeria, after a meeting to review the State of the Nation on the 11th day of December 2021
As an organisation working to end poverty, ActionAid Nigeria believes that the process of achieving its mandate requires the functionality of every instrument of government.
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:
● To advance the anti-corruption fight, there is a need to review the activities of commercial banks and implement proper sanctions for erring banks who act or transact businesses in manners contrary to their professional ethics and the laws of the land as revealed during the trial of the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina. The banks’ actions enabled the fraud to remain undetected for quite a while.
● Although boarding school offers networking opportunities and enhances social development of the child, the extreme cases of bullying, especially in Nigerian boarding schools, have become worrisome in recent times. Parents, school administrators, and relevant government educational authorities seem to be abdicating their responsibilities and duties to the children.
● The growing harassment of judicial officers portends a bad omen for the principle of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary as a whole. If the executive arm of government does not address this issue, it can undermine our democratic values.
● Nigeria's budding sectors such as telecommunications, agriculture, power, and tourism have provided a veritable platform for the real estate sector to thrive. However, challenges facing the sector have hampered it from realizing its true potential. Bribery and corruption markedly have a negative effect on the real estate sector. Low compliance with regulatory and environmental laws is the major cause of the incessant reports of collapsed buildings and other ecological problems.
● The peaceful conduct of the Anambra State Governorship election is commendable and the introduction of the BVAS is a welcome development. However, 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 witnessed low voter turnout and was not devoid of vote trading. We commend the women of Ebenebe community in Awka North LGA for rejecting money to sell their votes; this should be emulated by all citizens.
● The recent efforts of the security agencies to rescue the staff of the Federal University of Abuja who were kidnapped are laudable. However, the Federal Government and Security Agencies should be more proactive to stop the spate of kidnapping in the country, especially in Kaduna, Zamfara and Sokoto states where kidnapping is now almost a daily occurrence.
On human rights violations, the efforts of the states’ judicial panel of inquiry on SARS related abuse and other matters are commendable and this rekindles the hope of Nigerians particularly the youths in the country.
● Despite the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in containing the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, Nigeria continues to record an increased number of cases. With world leaders exploring different approaches to contain the Coronavirus pandemic’, the rising cost of the outbreak for businesses and the global economy has taken a big toll on Nigeria’s organised private sector. Stakeholders are exploring measures to reduce the impact the global crisis continues to have on the struggling local economy.
● The lack of prompt implementation of the FGs commitment to ASUU as detailed in its MoU threatens the quality and efficiency of Nigeria's tertiary education landscape. Strike is imminent, the ASUU has recently expressed its readiness to embark on another round of industrial action following what it called the failure of the Federal Government to implement an earlier agreement signed with the union.
● To reduce poverty, anti-corruption rhetoric should be matched with action. We call for strong institutions capable of independent interpretation and implementation of public policy objectives in Nigeria. Similarly, the anti-corruption fight should go beyond the focus on the politicians but also beam its light on the public servants and banks. Commensurate sanctions must be meted out to perpetrators of malfeasance and corrupt acts to serve as a deterrent to others as a way of forestalling the culture of wrongdoing in public offices.
● Bullying in schools is an unacceptable culture, and school administrators, parents and relevant government educational authorities must create functional mechanism for reporting and dealing appropriately with the act to kick it out of our schools for the safety of our children.
● The executive arm of government needs to be more responsible with the use of state power in such a way that its conduct will not be seen to be coloured by partisan politicking. Although, certain individuals have been arrested in connection with the invasion of the residence of a supreme court judge, the case must be followed to a logical conclusion to ensure that justice is served.
● Nigeria needs to tackle the growing construction of structurally distressed buildings that endanger Nigerians by cracking down on unscrupulous real estate developers. The Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria - CORBON, whose function is to establish and oversee the construction industry and coordinate its development must work with other critical stakeholders to ensure stricter measures to enforce regulation in the building and construction sector.
● Vote trading has continued to feature in Nigeria’s elections and will remain to be so if perpetrators go unpunished. We therefore call for the establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission to prosecute electoral offenders. In addition, INEC adhoc staff should be retrained on the electoral processes, especially on how to operate the Biometric Voters’ Accreditation System (BVAS). INEC should take lessons from the Anambra polls and re-evaluate its readiness for subsequent elections. There is need for the review and clean-up of the national electoral voters’ register for citizens to ascertain the real numbers of eligible voters across the country.
● The Nigerian government should leverage advanced ICT to combat crime and criminality. Bandits committing heinous crimes against the Nigerian state must be treated as terrorists that they are to enable the military to adopt the necessary rule of engagements against them.
The implementation of the recommendations of the Judicial Panels set up across the country to investigate the SARS related abuses and other matters presents an opportunity for the current administration to take a strong stand against human rights violations in the country. This includes disciplinary actions and dismissal of security officials indicted in the investigations as well as the immediate release of citizens arrested during the protests and compensation of those found to have been abused.
● The Federal Government through the National Orientation Agency should intensify the campaign on COVID-19 vaccination and co-opt religious and traditional rulers as champions to reduce misconceptions and myths surrounding the vaccination especially in the face of the emergent Omicron variant.
● We call on the Federal Government to promptly implement all contents of the FGN/ASUU agreement. Government should declare a state of emergency on education to rebuild it and ensure that the children of the poor get quality education.
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.