Don’t turn Nigeria into one-party state, activists warn
Coalition of rights groups, the Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC), yesterday accused President Goodluck Jonathan of sponsoring the impeachment of opposition governors to turn the country into a one-party state.
NHRC’s allegation came amid denials by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that neither President Jonathan nor the national leadership of the ruling party was involved in the impeachment of former Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako and the planned impeachment of Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
Addressing reporters yesterday in Lagos, the group said it was against the impeachment of governors because the process was driven by the interest of the President to control the states ahead of next year’s general elections.
The leader of one of the groups and Coordinator of Journalists for Democratic Rights, Adewale Adeoye, said the President may be shooting himself in the foot with his recent political moves.
The activist urged Jonathan to retrace his steps.
He said: “There is nothing wrong when governors, who have been genuinely found to have abridged the laws, are removed within the confines of the constitution. It is a bonus for democracy and it deepens democratic culture.
“Our fear is that these removals were financially induced and not driven by the people but by the interest of a particular hegemony. The impeachments, as we have seen, are driven by the fact that somebody thinks he has to be in control of all the states of the country.
“We think this move is unhealthy for democracy. It nozzles the pulse of the opposition and defeats the culture of vibrant democracy and could also be a way of the Presidency shooting itself in the foot without knowing it.”
In a statement read at the event by Kehinde Adegbuyi, the NHRC urged the people of Nasarawa State to recall all the lawmakers found culpable in the plot to unseat Al-Makura for allowing themselves be used by Jonathan to impose the PDP leadership on the state.
The statement reads: “The plot to remove the governor is part of the ongoing campaign to turn Nigeria into a one-party state and suppress the voices of dissent. We believe the allegation that 20 lawmakers have been bribed to remove Nasarawa State governor at all cost. The plot to remove him has nothing to do with justice or corruption. It is a clear case of desperation by the PDP to rule and probably ruin Nigeria.
“Since this move, there have been protests in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, leading to the avoidable deaths of at least two people. Curiously enough, the impeachment move came three days after the visit of President Jonathan to inaugurate the Ola Rice Farm at Rukubi, Doma Local Government Area of the state.”
“We wonder why Al-Makura is being asked to go two years after he may have committed some of these alleged crimes. What were the lawmakers waiting for in the last two years?”
The coalition noted that though Jonathan has the constitutional right to seek re-election during the general elections, he would be undermining democratic processes should he continue to destabilise and destroy the path he is expected to tread in his second term journey.
NHRC said: “The attack on the opposition is a clear indication of an act of intolerance. The removal of Nyako and the planned removal of Nasarawa State governor (Al-Makura) is a reflection of corruption within the political class, naked abuse of power and presidential recklessness. These acts can spur political upheavals that may undermine the entire political process.
“We stand by the ordinary people of Nasarawa State and urge them to rise up to the occasion by blacklisting lawmakers who have been bribed to impeach the governor. They should be immediately recalled by the voters in the affected constituencies in Nasarawa State.
“We hereby launch the ‘Campaign Against Impunity and Dictatorship’ in Nigeria, using the Nasarawa State political situation as a launch pad.”
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