FORMER Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chidi Odinkalu, a professor of law, says Nigeria’s two major political parties have failed to deliver the dividends of democracy to citizens.
He disclosed this during a breakfast television programme on African Independent Television (AIT) on Wednesday, where he berated the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the nation’s main opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for failing the Nigerian people.
“Democracy requires an opposition that is committed and the PDP is not a committed opposition because it lacks ideas, energy, commitment and passion because they are behaving with a cavalier of a party in power while the APC has failed as a party in power because they are behaving like an opposition party.
“That is the crisis of Nigeria’s democracy summarised there for you. The APC government does not have a lot to ride on and it has failed on the things that it promised, physical security, economic security and the fight against corruption, which are the three planks of its manifesto,” he said.
He cited the insensitivity of the Kaduna State government, where 14 Christian mission schools were closed down over possible attacks by terrorists after over 100 children were kidnapped. He noted that the move could be misinterpreted since the area was not the only the hotspots of kidnapping in the state.
“As we are speaking, the Kaduna State government was forced to shut down 14 mission schools in Kaduna and when you are closing down 14 mission schools, people are going to say this attack is not against education but against Christianity, whether you like it or not, which is going to pitch the people against the government,” he said.
On Monday, terrorists attacked Bethel Baptist School in Maraban Rido, a community in Chikun Local Government Area, where over 100 students were abducted.
The police said they rescued 27 of them in a combined operation with the Nigerian Navy and Army. The fate of other children remains unknown.
Odinkalu said the ruling APC-led government was hell-bent on restricting the country’s civic space after riding on the goodwill it received from the civic community.
“You asked me about the NGO regulation bill. The fact is, this has gone beyond NGO regulation. The APC, since it got into power in 2015, having being propelled by civic energy, decided that its enemy was Nigeria’s civic community.
“And it decided to start decapitating anything it could lay its hands on, first by toxifying Nigeria’s digital space by employing trolls who abuse everybody against them, dismiss everything as fake or everybody as haters,” he said.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.