Mouthpiece of Northern Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on Wednesday rose from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, declaring support for the #EndSARS protesters.
The ACF stated categorically that, street protests by Nigerian youths demanding for the reforms, cannot be wrong, as the Forum itself had earlier pointed out that standard and quality of governance especially with respect to policing, criminal justice system, management of law and order, have fallen and continues to fall in this country in recent years.
This was even as ACF made a strong call for restructuring, saying that, the current Presidential system of Nigaria’s government is too expensive and demands, review through referendum from the double chamber parliament to unicameral legislature among others.
The ACF’s communique read to journalists at the end of the meeting by its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe called for judicial commission of enquiry to examine the nature and scale of the money politicians at all levels pay themselves.
The meeting Presided over by its Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh also expressed concern that, with vast majority of young people who cannot find jobs, it is going to be difficult to achieve good governance or even maintaining law and order in Nigeria.
According to the communique, “The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, affirms that our democracy comes with a number of human and peoples’ rights which cannot be abndridged or abolished by governments. Among these are rights to hold and express views, to assembly and even to protest against perceived injustices provided they are done peacefully and do not injure the interests of other people.
“Thankfully, the #ENDSARS Protests that have raged across the country for over ten days have been largely peaceful until now. These protests that have persisted, have continued to evolve and have become increasingly violent. Innocent citizens caught in the cross fires have lost their lives. State governors and other political office holders have been attacked. Public highways and commercial facilities are being blocked, precipitating a dangerous lockdown of the country.
“This is happening not because the government did not respond to their many demands. On the contrary, the federal government has quickly and publicly agreed with the complaints of the protesters and has committed itself to carrying out far reaching reforms to address them..
“The ACF is the first to concede that the standard and quality of governance especially with respect to policing, criminal justice system, management of law and order etc. have fallen and continues to fall in this country in recent years.
“Substantial part of the north is either under governed or totally ungoverned giving rise to collapse in the economy and social settings of our rural community. Reforms of these and other critical areas are long overdue.
“To that extent, the street protests by our sons and daughters demanding for the reforms, cannot be wrong. However, if all they sought to achieve was to draw the attention of the government to this issues, they have already done so successfully and most eminently.
“Therefore their refusal to call off the protests even after the government has openly and repeatedly committed itself to implementing the needed reforms would seem to suggest that the protesters do not trust that the government will implement the promise made or that the protests aim to achieve objectives different from what they have so far declared.
“Having said that, the Arewa Consultative Forum appeals to the federal government with the strongest possible voice, not to let the opportunity presented by these events but to use them to carry out sincere and far reaching reforms especially in the areas our sons and daughters have identified.
“Government must engage critical stakeholders to fine tune the agreement and have defined timelines for implementations. That way, we can hope to stem the current drift towards chaos.
“Some of the areas that stand in dire need for urgent reforms should include but not limited to the following:
Security architecture, management of law and order: Outcome required is expansion in the quantity and quality of the armed forces and the police.
Tackling Corruption and nepotism as being perpetrated by political Office holders.
“Considering that vast majority of young people cannot find jobs, it’s going to be difficult to achieve good governance or even maintaining law and order in Nigeria.
“We recommend that a judicial commission of enquiry be set up to examine the nature and scale of the money politicians at all levels pay themselves. It is necessary to restore sanity in these matters by bringing their payments within acceptable limits taking into cognizance the economic reality of the country.
“The current Presidential system of government we are running is expensive; in view of our economic and infrastructural demands, the current system should be reviewed through referendum from the double chamber parliament to unicameral legislature among others.
“Such concerns have led several African countries to streamline their legislatures to single chambers including in Senegal, Ghana, Niger, etc.
“Growing the economy, Creating jobs and Reducing Poverty: We require equity, fairness, transparency with full disclosure, in the Central Bank and other government interventions in several key areas,” ACF said