Introduction: The Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum (NDLF) organized a 1-day symposium on the Nigeria Democracy Dialogue; Ten years of Democracy & the state of the Nation at the JFK Double Tree Hotel in New York on May 29th 2009. Participants were made up of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria & did a critical review of the state of affairs in Nigeria. Panelists were able to provide their perspectives on the topics that covered a wide range of issues on the Nigeria's Democracy. These topics included; The Nigerian Democracy; Progress Achieved, Missed Opportunities, Failures & Systemic Obstacles, Lessons learned, Future possibilities; The way to growth & development of the Nigerian State, Assessing the impact of Corruption & the government's corruption fighting agencies (EFCC, ICPC) efforts in achieving a people oriented democracy, The role of the Nigerian press and the new media in ensuring an accountable system of government, Assessing the Nigerian political parties, civil society, opinion leaders and an engaged public as critical components of a vibrant democracy, Restructuring of Nigeria & A Sovereign National Conference as a foundation for a stable Nation, The imperatives of an Electoral reform; A critique of the Electoral Act, Justice Uwais report on electoral reform & the government's white paper.
Statement: Nigerians in the United Sates evaluating Nigeria's Ten years Democracy and the state of the Nation at the 1-Day symposium state the following:
1. We acknowledge the non interruption of ten years democracy in Nigeria after years of military usurpation of power and the gross state of the Nigerian affairs during these regretful military years.
2. That Nigerians were hopeful that Democracy would bring about a better lease of life to address the multitude of problems confronting the nation
3. That the Ten years of Democracy has left Nigerians in a state of despair
4.The continuous state of governance in Nigeria at all levels has shown a failure of leadership.
5. The members of the political class have shown a zeal for corruption, self aggrandizement and self fulfillment at the detriment of the protection and preservation of Democracy.
In reviewing the state of the Nigerian nation and the Ten years of Democracy, we highlight the following:
-That we are witnessing missed opportunities to have Nigeria take her rightful20spot in the comity of Nations.
-Pervasive corruption in Nigeria as exemplified by members of the political class can only lead to a failed state. That the current federal government’s lukewarm attitude to fight corruption and the protection of former office holders ( President, Governors etc) from prosecution and the recovery of stolen public funds have shown unequivocally that under this government like its predecessor state immunity exists for looters of our common wealth. That the EFCC and ICPC obviously are incapacitated by the undue influence of government.
-That the Justice Uwais electo ral reform panel’s recommendation is a step in the right direction. That the government’s white paper is a sham that should be disregarded. The insincerity of government was glaring in its positions.
-There is the need to convene a Sovereign National Conference that would allow Nigerians write a people’s constitution and provide a platform for the realization of a true federal system of government. The current power structure that places so much power in the center only weakens and retards the growth & development of the Nation.
- The Nigerian press should realize its important role in actualizing an accountable government. The current situation with political leaders owning and controlling the media is stifling the=2 0free flow of information and deprives the nation a robust discussion on the pathetic state of events in Nigeria. The FOI bill should be passed and signed into law without further delay.
-The federal government’s massacre of the Niger Delta people should stop forthwith & be condemned by all and sundry. Government officials should acknowledge that the current use of military might in these areas that have suffered neglect for decades is counter productive and inexplicable.
-The civil society, non partisan opinion leaders, labour, professional bodies and the general public should be more engaged and forcefully demand for a Nigeria where there is respect for Rule of Law, Justice, Freedom, Equity and an Egalitarian society. There is the need to ensure vigilance and hold the government accountable.
- Nigerians should rise up to take back our country. We should organize ourselves and resist the members of the political class that are poised to continuously destroy and ruin the nation as a result of their pathological greed so we can have a Nigeria we can all be proud of.
Dr. Adegboyega Dada Chairman
Olubukola Oreofe - Executive Director
Ms Lilian Agbeyegbe Director, Policy Development Bureau
Communique issued on the 1-Day Symposium on Nigeria's Democracy Dialogue; Ten years of Democracy and State of the Nation organized by the Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum (NDLF) in New York on May 29th 2009.