CONSTITUTIONAL AWARENESS AND THE OCCUPY NIGERIA MOVEMENT

CONSTITUTIONAL AWARENESS AND THE OCCUPY NIGERIA MOVEMENT


Just after the table of content of the 1999 Nigerian constitution, comes these inspiring words:
“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

Having firmly and solemnly resolved:
TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign Nation under God dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding:
AND TO PROVIDE for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the Unity of our people:
DO HEREBY MAKE, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES the following Constitution”
As nice as these words sounds in the ears of any right-thinking individual, its should only be taken for the face value it carries because the fundamental element i.e. carrying the people along in writing the constitution was not in place when it was drafted. The ‘we the people’ highlighted above doesn’t hold true, in fact the ‘we the people’ represent few well-intentioned individual, employed by the military junta of the Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar in 1998 to prepare the nation for transition from military rule to ‘civilian rule’ in 1999.

Though, the ‘we the people’ statement is not the essence of this article, enough attention ought to be given it, in that the constitutional awareness I would discuss much latter in the article is flawed if the following argument by some people holds true. They claim had a Sovereign National Conference being convened before the constitution was framed, it would have given legitimacy to the above phrase. The framers of the constitution in a bid to create some form of legitimacy and general acceptance came up with a modified version of the preamble to the united State Constitution. The preamble to the United State Constitution as drafted by THE PEOPLE reads:
“we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, ensure domestice tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

Before this above declarartion was made in 1787, there had been the American Revolution, there was willingness on the part of the people to form a truly United States. They were aware of the lives that had been laid down as sacrifice to achieve this truly sovereign and independent state, so they would never take the constitution for granted. This consciousness still reigns supreme in the United States of America. Every citizen knows his/her fundamental human right. In fact, after a person is arrested, some basic right is read to him/her. The rights are popularly called the Miranda right, which state the right of the accused person to remain silent, right to an attorney and some basic privileges. These rights are read to the accused, with the officer making sure the accused person understands these basic rights. In the American society, there exists a high level of constitutional awareness, so let’s consider why the case is different in the Nigeran context.
First of all, we already discussed the arguments of some that the constitution as we have it today was shoved down our throat by the last military regime. We need to form a consensus, and determine if Nigeria as it is geographically located today should still continue to exist. Enough of the Niger-Deltans threatening to break-away, the movement for the actualization of a sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) claiming they would be better served if the were independent of the entity called Nigeria. Some have said we need to sit on a round table, organise an independent referandum and determine if we are better served by the constitution that presently binds us together. This could be a tall order to achieve and that is why some of us who believe in the entity called Nigeria would prefer to make the citizenry aware of the law that governs them and make them Nigerians.
I hold the opinion that we can perfect this present contitution and make it a ‘we the people’ constitution. We shouldn’t throw the baby away with the bathing water. I would rather we work at sentisizing every citizen from the lawmakers to the lawtakers, from the most educated to the dumbest illiterate. From the lawyers to the farmers, we all must recognise and demand the rights and priveledges the constitution confers on us. The unlearned and unskilled should understand that the police cannot hold you for more than 24hours without being charged to court, the citizens have got to understand that it is their fundamental human right to assemble freely and associate with other persons so as to make their voice heard. And, the basic principles of Equity, Justice and Fareness which the constitution seeks to establish, must never be trampled upon by either a democratically elected government or otherwise.

Having woken up to a New Year reality (increase of Fuel Pump Price in the name of ‘so-called’ subsidy removal), the Occupy Nigeria Movement swept into action. The fuel hike brought about the convergence of citizens from all works of life, who are angry at their irresponsible and clueless government. The movement which came into existence shortly after the citizens realised that the President Goodluck Jonathan they voted for was a shadow of who is presently occupying the rock. One of his many ‘sins’ was the ill-advised actions he took in the unconstitutional removal of Justice Ayo Salami of the Court of Appeal. Once he took that step, the nation soon realised he was just ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
Corruption and injustices prevailed in the land. More revelations started pouring in about the rot in government. What finally burst the bubble was the revelation on the 2012 budget. The ridiculous amount budgeted for the President and V. President office and family made the man on the street wonder if Nigeria was made for the President or the President was made for Nigeria. It promtped people to ask questions and more question and the Occupy Nigeria Movement was born. With a logo showing a hand lifted up in solidarity for Justice, the Occupy Nigeria Movement took to the streets on the 2nd day of the New Year with demands ranging from Cut in Government Spending, Revert to N65 Fuel Pump Price, fight Corruption, and uphold Equity, Peace and Justice amongs other demands.Along Came Ojota and NLC
The NLC having seen the anger on the street decided to show solidarity with the protests by declaring a shutdown of the economy on the 8th of Jan, 2012, also the Save Nigeria Group in coaliton with several Civil Society Organisations and Musicians decided to hold mass rally in Ojota wish coinsided with the nationwide strike. The Occupy Nigeria Movement largely unorganised deemed it fit to align with the Save Nigeria Group which had exact demands and intentions with the movement, but that is as far as Lagos is concerned. All over the federation; Ibandan, Abeokuta, Akure, Ado Ekiti, Ilorin, members of the Occupy Nigeria Movement trooped to the street to demand for what rightly belongs to them.
Our brothers and sisters overseas also joined the movement. Twitter and facebook was used to organise the movements with students’ body in the UK gathering in front of the Nigerian Embassy in London. From New York to Berlin, South Africa to the Netherlands, young Nigerians went out in the freezing cold, holding their future in their hands and vowing not to hand over to their children, the Nigeria their parents handed over to them. In a particular incident in New York, the Occupy Nigeria Movement seized the an event in the presence of a Nigerian Minister of State, hijacking the meeting thereby sending signals to GEJ who was in the comfort of ‘Our Rock’
The youths of Abuja, Kano, Kaduna where so inspiring. In fact, in Abuja, they had sleepovers vowing not to go back until the government shift ground and accede to Occupy Nigeria Movement demands. Despite the police brutality, the protesters occupied still. In Lagos, we saw the Ojota movement grow from just over 100,000 on the first day to over a million in a week. The GEJ government having seen what a people revolution achieved in the Arab countries took the cowards way by sending ‘zombies’ to occupy the protest ground. The military harrassed and barricaded the venue making sure no one gets in to stage the peaceful protest. I wonder how he would occupy the media networks now.

Much kudos ought to be giving to the social media networks that has helped in keeping the fire burning; as the clueless government churnout their misguided agenda, the social networks allows for room to discuss various policies and also suggest workable solutions. For now its looks as if the movement is asleep, but make no mistake there are strategies in place for the long term. The demands for now seems to be about a drastic change in the way government is run in the country, don’t be surprised in 2015 and afterwards if the Occupy Nigeria Movement offers an alternative platform or throws its weight behind credible candidates in all strata of government.

For now, much attention should be given to getting the citizens aware of what happens in government, making them hold the government responsible for every action or else, the prayer of those who wants Nigeria to disintergrate by 2015 would come true.

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Share your thoughts


Just after the table of content of the 1999 Nigerian constitution, comes these inspiring words:
“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

Having firmly and solemnly resolved:
TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign Nation under God dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding:
AND TO PROVIDE for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the Unity of our people:
DO HEREBY MAKE, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES the following Constitution”
As nice as these words sounds in the ears of any right-thinking individual, its should only be taken for the face value it carries because the fundamental element i.e. carrying the people along in writing the constitution was not in place when it was drafted. The ‘we the people’ highlighted above doesn’t hold true, in fact the ‘we the people’ represent few well-intentioned individual, employed by the military junta of the Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar in 1998 to prepare the nation for transition from military rule to ‘civilian rule’ in 1999.

Though, the ‘we the people’ statement is not the essence of this article, enough attention ought to be given it, in that the constitutional awareness I would discuss much latter in the article is flawed if the following argument by some people holds true. They claim had a Sovereign National Conference being convened before the constitution was framed, it would have given legitimacy to the above phrase. The framers of the constitution in a bid to create some form of legitimacy and general acceptance came up with a modified version of the preamble to the united State Constitution. The preamble to the United State Constitution as drafted by THE PEOPLE reads:
“we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, ensure domestice tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

Before this above declarartion was made in 1787, there had been the American Revolution, there was willingness on the part of the people to form a truly United States. They were aware of the lives that had been laid down as sacrifice to achieve this truly sovereign and independent state, so they would never take the constitution for granted. This consciousness still reigns supreme in the United States of America. Every citizen knows his/her fundamental human right. In fact, after a person is arrested, some basic right is read to him/her. The rights are popularly called the Miranda right, which state the right of the accused person to remain silent, right to an attorney and some basic privileges. These rights are read to the accused, with the officer making sure the accused person understands these basic rights. In the American society, there exists a high level of constitutional awareness, so let’s consider why the case is different in the Nigeran context.
First of all, we already discussed the arguments of some that the constitution as we have it today was shoved down our throat by the last military regime. We need to form a consensus, and determine if Nigeria as it is geographically located today should still continue to exist. Enough of the Niger-Deltans threatening to break-away, the movement for the actualization of a sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) claiming they would be better served if the were independent of the entity called Nigeria. Some have said we need to sit on a round table, organise an independent referandum and determine if we are better served by the constitution that presently binds us together. This could be a tall order to achieve and that is why some of us who believe in the entity called Nigeria would prefer to make the citizenry aware of the law that governs them and make them Nigerians.
I hold the opinion that we can perfect this present contitution and make it a ‘we the people’ constitution. We shouldn’t throw the baby away with the bathing water. I would rather we work at sentisizing every citizen from the lawmakers to the lawtakers, from the most educated to the dumbest illiterate. From the lawyers to the farmers, we all must recognise and demand the rights and priveledges the constitution confers on us. The unlearned and unskilled should understand that the police cannot hold you for more than 24hours without being charged to court, the citizens have got to understand that it is their fundamental human right to assemble freely and associate with other persons so as to make their voice heard. And, the basic principles of Equity, Justice and Fareness which the constitution seeks to establish, must never be trampled upon by either a democratically elected government or otherwise.

Having woken up to a New Year reality (increase of Fuel Pump Price in the name of ‘so-called’ subsidy removal), the Occupy Nigeria Movement swept into action. The fuel hike brought about the convergence of citizens from all works of life, who are angry at their irresponsible and clueless government. The movement which came into existence shortly after the citizens realised that the President Goodluck Jonathan they voted for was a shadow of who is presently occupying the rock. One of his many ‘sins’ was the ill-advised actions he took in the unconstitutional removal of Justice Ayo Salami of the Court of Appeal. Once he took that step, the nation soon realised he was just ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
Corruption and injustices prevailed in the land. More revelations started pouring in about the rot in government. What finally burst the bubble was the revelation on the 2012 budget. The ridiculous amount budgeted for the President and V. President office and family made the man on the street wonder if Nigeria was made for the President or the President was made for Nigeria. It promtped people to ask questions and more question and the Occupy Nigeria Movement was born. With a logo showing a hand lifted up in solidarity for Justice, the Occupy Nigeria Movement took to the streets on the 2nd day of the New Year with demands ranging from Cut in Government Spending, Revert to N65 Fuel Pump Price, fight Corruption, and uphold Equity, Peace and Justice amongs other demands.Along Came Ojota and NLC
The NLC having seen the anger on the street decided to show solidarity with the protests by declaring a shutdown of the economy on the 8th of Jan, 2012, also the Save Nigeria Group in coaliton with several Civil Society Organisations and Musicians decided to hold mass rally in Ojota wish coinsided with the nationwide strike. The Occupy Nigeria Movement largely unorganised deemed it fit to align with the Save Nigeria Group which had exact demands and intentions with the movement, but that is as far as Lagos is concerned. All over the federation; Ibandan, Abeokuta, Akure, Ado Ekiti, Ilorin, members of the Occupy Nigeria Movement trooped to the street to demand for what rightly belongs to them.
Our brothers and sisters overseas also joined the movement. Twitter and facebook was used to organise the movements with students’ body in the UK gathering in front of the Nigerian Embassy in London. From New York to Berlin, South Africa to the Netherlands, young Nigerians went out in the freezing cold, holding their future in their hands and vowing not to hand over to their children, the Nigeria their parents handed over to them. In a particular incident in New York, the Occupy Nigeria Movement seized the an event in the presence of a Nigerian Minister of State, hijacking the meeting thereby sending signals to GEJ who was in the comfort of ‘Our Rock’
The youths of Abuja, Kano, Kaduna where so inspiring. In fact, in Abuja, they had sleepovers vowing not to go back until the government shift ground and accede to Occupy Nigeria Movement demands. Despite the police brutality, the protesters occupied still. In Lagos, we saw the Ojota movement grow from just over 100,000 on the first day to over a million in a week. The GEJ government having seen what a people revolution achieved in the Arab countries took the cowards way by sending ‘zombies’ to occupy the protest ground. The military harrassed and barricaded the venue making sure no one gets in to stage the peaceful protest. I wonder how he would occupy the media networks now.

Much kudos ought to be giving to the social media networks that has helped in keeping the fire burning; as the clueless government churnout their misguided agenda, the social networks allows for room to discuss various policies and also suggest workable solutions. For now its looks as if the movement is asleep, but make no mistake there are strategies in place for the long term. The demands for now seems to be about a drastic change in the way government is run in the country, don’t be surprised in 2015 and afterwards if the Occupy Nigeria Movement offers an alternative platform or throws its weight behind credible candidates in all strata of government.

For now, much attention should be given to getting the citizens aware of what happens in government, making them hold the government responsible for every action or else, the prayer of those who wants Nigeria to disintergrate by 2015 would come true.

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

Comments

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