2015 : Heating Up Polity “Does not Bode Well for Peace and Democracy”-German Expert Warns

FES BookBy Danlami Nmodu

The Resident Representative  of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung,FES  in Nigeria, Mr Thomas Mattig, warned  that the unfolding intrigues as Nigeria moves toward  2015 do not bode well for peace and .He sounded this note of warning  in his welcome remarks during  the launch of a paper  titled :’The Fire Next Time:Youth Violence and Democratisation in Northern Nigeria’ written by  Ike Okonta. The paper was launched on Tuesday Bolton White Hotel ,Abuja.FES is a German foundation.

Mattig said, “today’s Nigeria stands between two important national elections :the one of 2011  that saw a new INEC leadership  and the need to break  with the tradition of elections  becoming worse and worse,and  those of 2015 with a terrorist insurgency in the north and heightened tensions with regards  to the traditional  power sharing  agreement in the governing PDP in the background.” He added  pointedly  that “The current  heating up of the polity as  it moves towards 2015 does not bode well for  peace and in  the country.”

The resident representative  also noted that “The violence in the immediate aftermath  of the 2011 elections was a shock to the nation and stained an electoral process that was otherwise appraised for having been relatively  free and fair.What happened in parts  of the North  reminded us of underlying grievances of a fundamental distrust in the state’s institutions and of the disappointment with Nigeria’s development  since  the end of military rule.It reminded us of  a general feeling of disenchantment of a whole generation of youths  that nobody seems to listen to:A generation  that constitutes  the future  of this country while its own  future is being destroyed the continuous underfunding  of education , insecurity, de-industrialisation  and corruption”

Other experts  who spoke during  the event   called on Nigerians to their mindset .Prof Lai Olurode, a national Commissioner with Independent National Electoral Commission ,acknowledged among others that while there are indeed challenges facing Nigeria, it should recognized that milestones have been attained.’ have to deconstruct method of reasoning’, Olurode said as he urged Nigerians  to avoid demonizing government.

The professor acknowledged that  there are indeed weak institutions in Nigeria because there are too many strong  individuals.There been no effective participation of the people in governance  he said.Speakig on the 2011 elections, Olurode affirmed  the position of Prof Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman that it was not perfect but he added  that  it was evidently better than  what Nigeria used to have as attested to by observers.

Others who spoke   Comrade Ezike Ibuchukwu , representing the Civil Liberties Organization,CLO , representatives of the  NYSC,IPCR    and CSOs  .

Okonta’s paper was reviewed by Olumide Olaniyan ,a development consultat and conflict expert.The author concluded his paper with the argument that “The great of the moment is to work out new terms of northern political and civic leadership in which the pressing issues of economic depression ,de-industrialisation and Islam driven by mass poverty and religious and political intolerance   and creative  ways to tackle them is fore-grounded.”He further suggested that “Northern youth should assigned an active role in the task of working out  the solutions”.

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