Declaration Of Two National Democracy Anniversaries And Outlawing Of Igbo Heroes’ Day: Nigerian Govt. On Fresh Social & Constitutional Suicide Mission
The Nigerian Government’s recent declaration and legalization of two national democracy anniversaries and their public holidays to be held annually in two weeks or on May 29 and June 12 as well as the outlawing by same Government of the Igbo Heroes Day through acts of anti Igbo contempt and violent crackdowns are clear embarkation of fresh social and constitutional suicide mission-which have further thrown up fresh social and constitutional identity questions of: where and who are we as a country and people peopling the country.
It is also totally atrocious and reprehensible for Federal Government to violently disallow the Igbo People of Nigeria to honor those who violently and peacefully died protecting the rights of members of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality to be born as Igbo, exist as Igbo and develop as Igbo, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, INTERSOCIETY, said today in a statement issued in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria and signed on its behalf by Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair), Chinwe Umeche, Esq.(Head of Democracy), Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. (Head of Civil Liberties) and Chidinma Evangaline Udegbunam, Esq. (Head of Publicity).
The declaration by the Government of Nigeria of the two national democracy anniversaries and their holidays is also riddled with thoughtlessness and has raised fresh social and constitutional identity questions above mentioned. The nationalization by legal enactment of June 12 as “Nigeria’s Official Democracy Day”, leaving out its core ingredients including grievous humanity and social crimes (i.e. structural, cultural and physical violence) it had holistically sought to address is not only being clever by half, but also half-baked and skeletal, Intersociety added in its statement. Intersociety further accused the Government of Nigeria of being only interested in the letter of June 12 and not its spirit.
It must be clearly pointed out that June 12 had not only sought to end military intervention in Nigeria, but also to institutionalize one-citizen-one-vote beyond ethnic and religious entanglements. It further sought to tame the decades-long ethno-religious divisions and accompanied politics of segregation, exclusion, mediocrity, favoritism and nepotism; all cloaked in the layers of structural, cultural and physical violence.
In other words, June 12 grandly aimed at enthroning human security powered negative peace or absence of state perpetrated physical violence and positive peace or absence of state orchestrated structural and cultural violence. These, June 12 had sought to do using then two national party structures and principle of one-person-one-vote; irrespective of tribe, religion, class or gender. Unfortunately, today; June 12 has not only been narrowly interpreted and handled but also tribally reduced or seen as “Southwest or Tinubu and his gangs’ affair”; depriving it of its supposedly nationalistic outlook and spirit or original intent.
Intersociety hereby wonders what then is democracy when a Government legalizes and nationalizes just the letter of a date, leaving out its all-important spirit, peaking its country’s democracy watershed and turns around to roll out its troops and other State instruments of coercion against the Igbo People of Eastern Nigeria who peacefully called for “ghost street anniversary or sit-at-home” in honor of their sons and daughters massacred during the 1967-70 civil war, particularly millions killed or starved to death (non battlefield deaths) and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of others hacked to death by radical Islamists or violent ethnic actors as well as those unjustly killed by Buhari/Osinbajo’s Government in recent times.
Constitutionally, we see the Nigerian Government’s handling of the May 29 Handover/Democracy Remembrance Day and the newly legislated “June 12 National Democracy Day”; as sheer duplicity, shadow chasing, waste of public resources, unnecessary disruption of commercial and social activities. It also amounts to being clever by half by the Government to attempt to cleverly avoid what would have been a serious and complicated constitutional crisis, only to land itself in the duplicity of the highest order. This is more so when the Government appears to have wanted to shift “the Democracy Day” from May 29 to “June 12” but found it constitutionally entangled or handicapped; forcing it to shallowly adopt “two democracy anniversaries and their holidays to be marked in fourteen days or “on 29th May and 12th June of every year”.
It must be stated that a progressive and serious minded democratic State does not celebrate or mark its democracy anniversary twice in a year, not to talk of marking two in two weeks. Many democratically advanced countries have even gone to the extent of absorbing or merging their liberations from colonialism, wars of conquest or protracted military incursions into their political life into one grand annual event to serve as national democracy or liberation day.
The United States of America, for instance, marks their Independence/Democracy Day on 4th July of every year; having adopted and ratified its independence declaration on 4th July 1776, yet its first democratically elected President (George Washington) was inaugurated on 30th April 1789. The country’s handover or presidential inauguration date was further changed or moved to 20th Jan as a result of the 20th Amendment to its Constitution, ratified on January 23, 1933, with the first meeting of its new Congress fixed for January 3.
The reality on the ground which the Government of Nigeria appears to be avoiding or pretending not to know is that it was the last military’s inglorious epoch under Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar that ushered in the present 1999 Constitution through “Decree No.24 of 1998”, now called the “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999” with its inherent deformities; with effect from 29th May 1999 which now governs the country’s democracy and expiration of tenures of its elected public office holders, numbering 1,695, but presently affects 1,681 of them; with the exception being 12,788 elected public officials of the country’s constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Areas (chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors).
It is on the basis of these, therefore, that the Nigeria’s Democracy Handover/Remembrance Day cannot be legally and constitutionally shifted to “June 12” without enactment or coming into force of a brand new (not amended) constitution. A typical example is the new Kenyan Constitution, which came into force in 2010 following its post election violence of 2007. The new Kenyan Constitution came into force after its referendum of August 2010, repealing its draconian colonial constitution of 1963. Before then, Kenya had existed as one of the few African countries without a military coup but operated the most draconian constitution in Africa.
The stark reality in the case of Nigeria is that the Government cannot successfully constitutionalize (not legalize) “June 12 Democracy Day” without repealing the present military enacted “1999 Constitution” and its replacement with a brand new Peoples’ Constitution arising from agreements reached at the All Ethnic Nationalities’ Constitutional Conference by the representatives (using electoral and population proportionality) of the country’s not less than 370 ethnic nationalities and other interested social bodies or organizations.
It is saddening that June 12 is presently promoted and bastardized by the same perpetrators of grievous humanity and social crimes it had sought 26 yrs ago (1993) to uproot and dismantle: the jihadists, the genocidists, the ethnocidists, the poll riggers, the looters/pillagers, the militia public office holders, the mass poverty providers, the exclusionists, the segregators, the serial borrowers, the profiteers of human miseries and the ethno-religious violent actors and actresses.
We therefore call on the Government of Nigeria to stop its fire brigade approach to June 12 and May 29 Handover and Democracy Anniversaries. A holistic approach, not half-baked approach is required. June 12 must be total and complete both in letter and spirit. That is to say that June 12 as stillborn must be socially and constitutionally structured and legalized to meet its original intents and purposes.
The Nigerian Government must also end its atrocious crackdowns against unarmed and defenseless members of the Igbo Ethnic Nationality or Nation. Their right to bury or honor their dead is sacred and sacrosanct both in mortal and cosmic worlds. It is also the oldest human right in the world, followed by right to freedom of worship. This fundamental right cut across all regions and religions and violators of such are mortally and immortally or cosmically condemned.