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Soyinka: FG, Lagos Deal Subverts Democracy

Posted by By Olawale Olaleye and Sheriff Balogun on 2005/08/24 | Views: 334 |

Soyinka: FG, Lagos Deal Subverts Democracy


Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, described the deal between the Federal and Lagos State governments, which led to the release of parts of the seized local government funds due to the state, as a subversion of the rule of law. He said the deal should be resisted by the political class and all Nigerians.

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, described the deal between the Federal and Lagos State governments, which led to the release of parts of the seized local government funds due to the state, as a subversion of the rule of law. He said the deal should be resisted by the political class and all Nigerians.

Soyinka at a press conference addressed by his group, the Citizens Forum, said the agreement brokered by the Ajibola committee of elders and based on the reversion of the local government law validly made by the Lagos House of Assembly contradicted the decisions of the Supreme and Federal High Courts.

He said: “The present agreement of which we fear there may yet be unrevealed details has completely undermined what should have been-no matter how prolonged-a campaign for the restoration of the people’s right to be governed by the rule of law, not by the whims of any predatory cabal led by a once reluctant, now thoroughly seasoned and incorrigible militrician."

While absolving the Ajibola committee of blame, Soyinka said the group should have "enjoined upon both sides, a duty to uphold the integrity of the law, abide by the constitutional responsibilities and limitations of power, be these on the federal or state level. This, in our view, should have been the immovable bedrock on which any negotiation would be based. Any other course would render fragile, the foundations of the national edifice”.

While deploring the modalities that necessitated the reversion of a valid law as a means to save the face of the Presidency, Soyinka said “we hold the Lagos State House of Assembly and its governor, Bola Tinubu accountable for this signal erosion of democratic governance to which we all subscribe despite successive election charades that have demoralised majority of the nation”.

The Nobel Laureate who insisted the deal which led to the release of part of the over N30 billion seized local government funds was not in the interest of the nation's constitution observed that "the recent funds he (Obasanjo) released was not released with the interest accrued to it, the Court, however, did not tell him (Obasanjo) to release the money in bits, so it shows we are still living in a mimic society where the president is freely violating Court rulings.”

"I will want the Lagos State government to go back to the Court to make it known that, what the president is doing is not the Court rulings. It is violation of rule of law. President Olusegun Obasanjo has dealt what may prove a mortal blow to the democratic being of the Nigerian nation. He has set a diabolical precedent and unless the Nigerian populace demonstrates that this was a singular aberration whose repeat must never be permitted, the nation is doomed to endure the mimic rounds of future assailants of the democratic order, each striving to outdo the last in impunity and the arrogance of power", he said.

He therefore called on the "nation's political class irrespective of their allegiances, to accept their dereliction of duty over the appropriate responses event and begin to initiate steps to protect the joint interests against a creeping dictatorship."

"There is far too much at stake for us to leave the compromises implicit in this most recent defiance of law to run their course. Democracy has been openly, blatantly and contemptuously rubbished by the presidency. Let all clearly bear in mind what is at stake- a choice between the strengthening of constitutional rectitude on the one hand and the legitimization of governance by trespassing.

“The book is not closed, it will remain open as long as believers in democracy are confronted by spectre of authoritarianism, and the gratification of individual ego. We dare not blind ourselves to the continuing reverses of the democratic imperative all round”, he said.

Recalling that similar tendency is prevalent in many African countries, Soyinka however likened the prevailing scenario to that of a “bush guerilla who has forgotten that he took to arms on the pretext of terminating a dictatorial tenure, has come this timely reminder- African leaders continue to be in the main, compulsive recidivists. "

“The Nigerian nation should cease to consider itself immune to this affliction, recollecting those years when it complacently did and bearing in mind the consequences, from which it cannot claim, even today, to have recovered”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Lagos state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also yesterday at a separate press conference said part of the council funds already released to the Lagos state is not disbursable unless fresh elections are conducted into the various councils to give legal backing to their administrators.

Addressing newsmen, Chair-man of the party, Alhaji Muhammed Murtala Ashorobi explained that the federal government had shown adequate magnanimity by releasing N20 billion and that the state should also comply with the terms of the peace process by conducting election where the names of the new council chairmen, councillors and others would be made known.

The PDP boss explained that “the structures of the 20 local government have not been restored by the state government. These 20 local governments exist only on paper. What is physically on ground, at present are the same 57 local governments, none of which is recognised by the constitution and which as stated by the Supreme Court, are not entitled to any fund from the federation account".



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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.