SING Nigeria has urged the federal government to guarantee citizens’ right to freedom of expression which it described as one of the tenets of democracy.
The group made the call in a statement to commemorate this year’s Democracy Day.
In the statement signed by Victor Agi, its communication manager, the group noted that freedom of expression is essential ingredient of democracy which citizens must fight to protect, and called on the government uphold citizens’ inalienable rights.
It partly read: “The pillars of our democracy are being highly threatened with recent agitations and uprisings across the nation. May we all be reminded in the face of these uncertainties that democracy essentially is a marketplace of ideas; it allows for freedom of speech as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which stipulates right to ‘seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’; and Chapter four (4), section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly spells this out.
“It is our hope that the government, in the spirit of democracy, will thread more courteously and guarantees citizens right to free expression which is one of the hallmarks of democratic governance”.
The group blamed the current challenges in the country on leadership failure but expressed the hope that the nation’s continued democratic experience is a good omen for change.
It added: “over the past 22 years since the nation transited to democratic governance, our journey to nationhood and growth, in the estimation of many Nigerians, has fallen short of expectation; the nation has failed to reach its potentials as a result of corrupt leadership at every level of governance.
“Compared to nations with our kind of history, and same measure of natural and human endowment, Nigeria has indeed been unsuccessful in harnessing its huge resources for the transformation and development of the society; hence, after 22 years of democratic governance, the nation is replete with challenges of unemployment, corruption, insecurity, poverty, poor infrastructure, among many other maladies.
It said the “unbroken election cycles remain one of the brides of our democratic experience”, while calling on stakeholders to sustain the nation’s electoral process as “we seek to grow our nascent democracy”.
The organization specifically called on stakeholders to seize the occasion of the nation’s democracy day commemoration to reflect on the “electoral process which has been marred by all sorts of irregularities over the years”.
It called on the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite actions towards passing the Electoral Act 2021 to law which is long overdue. “This will further strengthen our electoral processes and guarantees free, fair and credible elections in the future”, it said.