Int’l Human Rights Day: HURIWA Calls for Functional Civil Society Community

Charges Nigerians to be Vigilant to Avoid Hijack of Democracy

By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News

ABUJA: As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the International Human Rights Day, the National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, has urged Nigerians to walk towards achieving a functional civil society community.

Making the call on Tuesday in Abuja, Onwubiko stated that the Civil Society Community is not just about the CSOs, but about every individual asking the right questions and holding the government accountable all the times, adding that democracy is as good as dead if Nigerians cannot ask questions.

According to him, “CSO is not just all about HURIWA, CISLAC and the rest, it is also about you that spends 75 percent of your time clapping and dancing in your churches, spend like 20 percent of that time asking the right questions in your churches and mosques. 

“Democracy is as good as dead if Nigerians cannot ask questions, the greatest threat to democracy is procurement Corruption which is at the highest level in Nigeria”, he said.

He further stressed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has no business awarding contracts, as it is not what the law says, adding that it’s supposed to be the duty of the Bureau of Public Procurement. 

In his words, “The FEC should not be a contract awarding forum, that’s why Nigeria is not working because it is not set up for that. If states award contracts for road projects and the Federal government also awards almost similar project, how do you find out where the state government begins their own and end,and how much the state government has spent for those projects”.

He called on the Civil Society Organizations to wake up and monitor the implementation of these projects scattered all over the country, emphasizing that procurement corruption constitutes about 60 percent of Nigeria’s national economic woes.

Speaking on the move by the government to pass the Hate Speech Bill, he stated that it should be challenged by all Nigerians. “The move to block the avenue of asking questions should be challenged. Nigerians should speak up and reject any legislation against access to the social media.

“Social media is the only community where you have Nigerians from all parts of the world expressing their perceptions about how things are not working in this country, and if the president values social media as much as he has done, by appointing the right people to man the social media unit of his presidency, why is the government going about trying to limit access to social media?” He questioned.

We are saying, “We reject any move by the Senate to legislate against access to social media and the so called hate speech because the provisions that we have in place are already enough to tackle those things. 

“Thank God the Senate President has responded to our letters but we are urging Nigerians not to sleep, even if they tell you they will not legislate such bills that are against the Nigerian people’s interest, because if you go to bed, democracy will be hijacked”, he remarked.

Onwubiko charged Nigerians to be awake to fight the Bill, adding that vigilance is the best solution to democracy.  

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