Popular human rights activist and founder of the newly formed pro-democracy & civil society organization, Agenda for New Nigeria (ANN), Comrade Emeka Chibuzo Ogbonna, has used one of his regular seminars to criticize the newly elected government of President Buhari.
In a seminar titled ‘ Transparency and Rule of Law in Democracy’, which he delivered on May 30th, 2015, at the City Hall, Lagos State, which was organized by his newly formed socio political group, Agenda for New Nigeria (ANN), he enlightened the participants on the concept of transparency and rule of law in government.
According to Comrade Emeka Ogbonna, ” Perhaps the greatest challenge Nigeria is facing today is building a genuine rule of law”. He continued, ” Wherever the rule of law is strong, people will uphold the law, not out of fear but because they have a stake in its effectiveness. In addition, law breakers will face both legal penalties and social sanctions, like criticisms “.
Commenting on government transparency, Comrade Ogbonna remarked, ‘ The hallmarks of a truly transparent government include an independent judiciary, free and responsible press, and active civil society. A transparent government informs the people on why certain actions are being taken.
The activist also reminded the seminar audience of the antecedents of President Buhari towards disobeying court orders, when he was military head of state between 1983 – 1985.
Consequently, he expressed skepticism towards President Buhari abiding by the rule of law as a civilian president, saying” Military habits die hard”.
The comrade used the opportunity to call on the President to ensure that whatever action he takes, must be in tandem with the rule of law, and to also ensure transparency and accountability in his government.
Comrade Ogbonna went on to inform the audience that rule of law connotes equality for all citizens before the law, meaning that both the leaders and the governed are equal before the law, and that no person should be given more advantage over the other.
Rounding up on the seminar, Comrade Ogbonna called on Civil Society Groups to rise up to the occasion and hold the government accountable, as this is how to move Nigeria forward, even if it means holding demonstrations and protests on the streets to make their voices to be heard.
He lampooned labour unions for being docile while Nigerian workers are suffering and committing suicides due to economic hardships occasioned by loss of jobs and salaries being owed them, while politicians are living large and collecting largesse allowances.
He reminded the audience that those in political authority were elected to serve the people and not to rip off the electorates.
However, he cautioned the audience against taking laws into their hands in the pursuit of their rights but to approach the courts whenever their rights are being infringed upon. He reminded the audience that social media is a very powerful tool to expose bad governance.
Guests at the seminar included members from student union groups, market women, members from various opposition parties, members from labour union and civil society groups.