The Current Political Impasse and Call for the Defence of Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria
MADE BY STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATIVE FORUM, ABUJA January 15 and 16, 2009
Highly concerned by the vacuum in governance created by the prolonged absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, absent for eight weeks, without empowering his deputy to act in his absence as expected in the Presidential System of government;
Conscious of the antics of Presidential handlers and anti-democratic elements acting as a cabal that has taken over the reign and control of executive decisions;
Convinced that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria contains relevant provisions for a quick resolution of the current vacuum;
Further convinced that the reluctance of the Federal Executive Council to declare and transmit a resolution on the health of President Yar’Adua to the National Assembly creates conditions to ignominiously perpetuate the illegal control of Nigeria’s treasury by Presidential handlers that have not been elected by Nigerians and are therefore not accountable to Nigerians;
Determined to oppose the political and constitutional manipulations aimed at the sectional and undemocratic control of the sovereignty of the Nigerian people by a cabal without their consent and the approval of the Parliament;
Further determined to oppose the sinister project which if allowed could prolong the vacuum with obvious repercussions on Nigeria’s democracy and political stability in the region;
Persuaded that the ultimate goal of the current vacuum is nothing but the defence and preservation of strictly selfish and private interests;
Having met in Abuja on January 15 and 16th, 2010 for a consultative forum on ‘Resolving the Political Impasse in Nigeria’ denounce the foot dragging by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly and demand a resolution and transmission on the state of health of the President by the Federal Executive Council to the National Assembly and for the National Assembly to setup a team of Medical Experts to evaluate and report on the state of health of President Yar’Adua. We, Participants at the Centre for Democracy and Development and Open Society Initiative for West Africa All Stakeholders 2-day Forum note as follows:
1. That the President left the country without transmitting powers as envisaged by the Constitution to the Vice President.
2. That the President has been away from the seat of power for 54 days
3. Since the President’s departure, the mode of governance in the country has lacked transparency. There has been no medical bulletin on the President generating concerns whether he is in charge. The Vice President has not been empowered to act and governance is in a state of flux
4. The Justice Abutu judgment has further complicated the state of flux by stating the Vice President can perform but cannot act for the President.
5. That the nation remains dazed by the unprecedented notion of an absent and probably invalid President that insists on ruling from far-away Saudi Arabia; a Executive Council and National Assembly that watch helplessly.
6. The country’s non-governance and mal-governance has created negative political, social and economic conditions from which the people are suffering.
7. The image of a country without governance has created international concerns about a drift towards a failed state that prompted the listing of Nigeria on Terrorist Watch List by the American government following the Mutallab bomb attempt.
1. A cabal of unelected persons have successfully plotted against and subverted the 1999 Constitution and executed a civilian coup and are running the affairs of Nigeria, thereby creating a serious threat to our democracy.
2. That the National Assembly shirked its responsibility of exercising its oversight to ensure Nigeria is being governed by constituted authority. In addition they have not insisted on the Nigerian people being regularly briefed about the health conditions of the President.
3. The PDP as the ruling party has failed to show leadership in the resolution of the crisis provoked by the political impasse.
4. We condemn the reckless and irresponsible statement by Vincent Ogbulafor denigrating the acts of patriotic Nigerians pushing for a return to legality and constitutionality.
5. The Justice Abutu judgement has further created conditions for an unelected cabal to continue to run the affairs of state.
6. The absence of the President is impacting on our capacity to exercise our leadership role at the regional and international level as exemplified by repeated postponement of the ECOWAS Summit of Head of States and Governments, of which he is Chairman.
The activities of the cabal should be combated by all democratic forces in Nigeria. They must not be allowed to endanger the stability, peace, good governance and democracy in Nigeria.
Constituted authority should immediately begin to issue daily health bulletins on the condition of the President.
The Judiciary as a third arm of government should live up to the expectation of protecting and upholding constitution of Nigeria.
The President in conformity with the requirement of Section 145 of the Constitution, and pursuance of national interest should immediately transmit a letter to the National Assembly, enabling the Vice President to Act in his absence.
Should the President fail to transmit such a letter on or before January 31, 2010, the Executive Council and the National Assembly should immediately initiate the procedure for his removal based on Section 144 of the Constitution.
Call for Action
1. Giving the serious threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation, and to our democratic process, we call on all stakeholders to intensify all ongoing action aimed at returning our country to constitutionality and legality.
2. The Executive Council should fulfil their constitutional obligations and initiate the process of transmitting a letter to the National Assembly in the national interest to end current political impasse
3. The National Assembly should fulfil its obligations under section 144 and in concert with the Executive Council initiate the process of ending the current vacuum
4. The Police and other law enforcement agencies to sustain their constitutional role of protecting citizens during protest marches and maintaining law and order
5. The People Democratic Party (PDP), as the ruling party should provide the required leadership to end the current political impasse by calling its members in the Executive Council and National Assembly to act in national interest.
6. Other political parties should show statesmanship and ensure that the focus of their activities in the current situation is in national interest.
7. Civil society should build critical alliances at local, state and national level towards effective coordination for breaking the current political impasse and returning Nigeria to political legality
8. The Media should amplify ongoing struggles to return Nigeria to constitutional democracy.
9. Nigerians should abhor all sentiments, ethnic, religious and sectional in resolution of the political impasse.
Signed in Abuja this 16th Day of January 2010
1. Centre for Democracy and Development,
2. Family Worship Centre,
3. Ken Nnamani Centre
4. West Africa Civil Society Forum
5. National Human Rights Commission
6. Coalition of Nigerian Political Parties
7. Citizens Popular Party
8. Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
9. Alliance for Human Development
10. Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE)
11. Centre for Leadership and Strategy Development
12. West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
13. Africa Vision 525
14. Coalition for Change
15. Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative
16. Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR)
17. Actionaid Nigeria
18. Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre
19. Revenue Watch Institute
20. Bamidele Aturu and Co, Law firm
21. Community Action for Citizens Participation (CAPP)
22. Rights Enforcement and Public Law Centre
23. Centre for Peace Building and Socio Economic Resources Development
24. Dikko and Mahmoud Legal Practititoners
25. Open Society Initiative for West Africa