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Falana knocks politicians over Nigeria’s underdevelopment

By Ayoyinka Jegede |   02 June 2020   |   3:41 am  

Poverty, unemployment, insecurity, impunity, corruption and abuse of office due to the nature of the peripheral capitalist system operated by the ruling class have been described as a threat to the nation’s democracy 21 years after, by human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN).

The activist made this known in an interview with the Guardian while talking on 21 years of stable democracy in the country. Falana, who stressed that Nigeria has no democracy but had practised civil rule for 21 years, maintained that by denying young people access to education, the nation is battling with terrorism and banditry in the northeast and northwest respectively. 

His words: “Having failed to address unemployment, the entire country is threatened by armed robbery and kidnapping. And having failed to build ranches, herders are engaged in bloody clashes with farmers in several states. But the solutions provided are further dividing the masses. Instead of ensuring that people have children they can cater for and that every child is given compulsory education, state governors are currently deporting abandoned kids otherwise called almajiris to their states of origin. A number of people in southern Nigeria are opposed to the influx of the almajiris from the north.  Meanwhile, they are comfortable with area boys and militants equally abandoned by the ruling class.” 

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He suggested that the way out is to allow the Nigerian people to be in control of their political destiny in line with the provisions of the fundamental objectives and state policy enshrined in chapter two of the Constitution

“In order to guarantee the security and welfare of the people, the State is mandated by section 16 of the same Constitution to harness the resources of the nation and control the economy in such a manner as to ensure the maximum welfare by ensuring that the material resources are distributed equitably and the commonwealth shall not be concentrated in the hands of a few people or a group.

“If these constitutional injunctions are complied with, there will be peace and stability in the country. But over the years Northern and Southern members of the ruling class decided to concentrate the commonwealth in the hands of a few Nigerians and foreigners. The way out is to redistribute the commonwealth peacefully in compliance with the clear ideas and objectives set out in chapter two of the Constitution,” he said. 

Talking on restructuring called by some well-meaning Nigerians, Falana said restructuring is not a magic wand for political stability in a nation erected on the platform of social injustice and inequality.

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He said the debate for restructuring has been conducted in a manner that it has become a rationalisation for the underdevelopment of the country, adding that dangerous impression has been created that without restructuring dilapidated roads, abandoned schools and comatose hospitals cannot be fixed and maintained to serve the people. 

His words: “Restructuring or power devolution from the centre to the local members of the ruling class will further alienate the people from the governance of the country. 

Therefore, there has to be horizontal and vertical restructuring. In other words, the political powers that are expected to be transferred from the centre to the other federating units will have to be democratized so that the masses are empowered politically and economically.

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“Otherwise, power devolution will merely strengthen the hands of local emperors. I don’t believe in strengthening institutions or building strong institutions. Everyone had thought that the United States had built and developed strong institutions to defend bourgeois democracy in that country. But President Trump has destroyed and weakened the strong institutions. The fellow has exposed the myth that strong institutions can defend democracy. Britain is having the same experience under Mr. Boris Johnson.  As far as I am concerned, strong institutions can be destroyed by strong men and women. But if you empower and mobilize the people to defend democracy, no strong man or woman can destroy it.

“Institutions are built by the people and not by a few incorruptible leaders or honest leaders. For instance a nation cannot build a strong or independent judiciary without empowering lawyers to control the legal profession and ensure that only the best among them are appointed judges and magistrates through a transparent process monitored by the larger society.  In the same manner, the executive and legislature cannot be strong if patriotic citizens are excluded from participation in public affairs.  With the monetization of politics and exclusion of women, workers, youths and physically challenged people who constitute the bulk of the population, democracy cannot be defended by strong institutions in Nigeria.” 

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