2015 general elections looking ‘more like a mirage,’ Afenifere group warns

Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Ayo Afolabi, ARG's Gen. Secretary, Olawale Oshun, National Chairman, Kunle Famoriyo, Publicity Secretary, and Gen Odunsi (rtd)

As the 2015 general elections approach, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, a Yoruba socio-political body, has warned about the looming political instability likely to mar the process.

At a public presentation of their annual report, ‘Nigeria Democratic Governance Report: Curbing Political Instability and Extravagance,’ the ARG said that major indicators ahead of 2015 now put Nigeria on “red alert.”

“We are now faced with a depressing economic outlook because of dwindling revenues, corruption, and heavily flawed and extravagant budget,” said Olawale Oshun, ARG’s National Chairman.

“Worse still, divisive politics is now so pervasive that the concept of a free and fair election in 2015 is looking more like a mirage, especially with the way INEC’s rating has plummeted in recent times.

“How we navigate 2015 elections in the reality of this context will determine the country’s survival.

“Nigerians should be concerned because the 2015 General Elections will not replenish the country’s depleted tank of political stability if certain reforms are not pursued as urgently as possible.”

The ARG’s report, a review of the state of the nation between 2010 and 2014, showed that since 1999 when the country returned to democracy, political and economic stability have been on the decline.

Mr. Oshun said that the country’s presidential politics had been taken over by nepotism and ethnocentrism.

“For instance, it is difficult not to read meaning to the fact that under the current administration, all economic agencies like CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), DMO (Debt Management Office), AMCON ( Assets Management Company of Nigeria), NSE (Nigerian Stock Exchange), SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund), and the Finance Ministry are headed by experts from the Igbo ethnic group,” Mr. Oshun said.

In its recommendations, the ARG reiterated its call for a return to the First Republic’s regional structure or adoption of the six geo-political zones as federating units.

“The uncontrollable wastage and rapacious corruption in Federal Government necessitates the reduction of Federal Government’s share in Revenue Allocation Formula to 35 percent, with maximum devolution of powers to the federating units,” the group stated.

“We must warn here, for the umpteenth time, that granting autonomy to local government administrations is counter-productive in a federal state. Remove LGA from revenue sharing and let each federating unit manage as many LGA as it could.

The ARG called for the abolishing of the Excess Crude Account and other “special” accounts as well as for budget implementation to be anchored on accountability and transparency.

“There is no public-compliant mechanism to monitor execution of contracts, which has become a ‘legal’ avenue for corruption because the NASS, in addition to proving inept in its oversight function, is also a willing collaborator.

“The pressure on Naira must be relieved as urgently as possible by reducing useless imports. Ensuring that refineries operate at a level that meets local needs is a critical project that must be pursued by an incoming administration.”

The group also called for a review of the current import and waiver policies in the country which it described as the single biggest threat to local SMEs.

“Once again, this report is the voice of reason, a cry from the wilderness. Will Nigeria listen and be saved? Political stability indicators are almost at zero levels and 2015 General Elections, especially the presidential election, is already laden with potential threats of violence that may be unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.

“Our advice is for the presidency, NASS, and all political parties to meet and agree to an exit strategy that embodies peace and upholds democracy.

“However, whether this advice is heeded or not, the ARG is conscious of the need to initiatives geared towards protecting the Yoruba people and their interest, as other nationality groups in the country are presently doing. Yoruba political and business leaders must now realise that they are more endangered than their counterparts in other nationalities, if the present trend continues.”

You can download the ARG report here.

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