Statement Issued By The National Consensus Movement During A Press Conference Held On Tuesday 10th February 2015 At Chida Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja
Gentlemen of the press,
The National Consensus Movement is a coalition of civil society groups from across Nigeria. Our objective is to safeguard our democracy and see to the building of a great, united, just and prosperous Nigeria.
You will recall that on Thursday, 6 February, 2015, the Council of State met at the state house and one of the top issues on their agenda was the consideration of whether or not the 2015 general elections should hold as scheduled for 14 and 28 February, 2015.
On that day, we staged a public demonstration from the Unity Fountain to the entrance to the Presidential Villa, calling on the council to reject any proposal to reschedule the polls. After being briefed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on its level of preparedness and also listened to the presentation of the service chiefs, calling for a shift in the polls, the council was convinced in its wisdom that INEC should proceed with the elections, against the position of the presidency for a shift in the date.
You will recall also that on Saturday, 8 February, 2015, we staged another protest at the headquarters of INEC in Abuja, calling on the commission not to bow to the pressure from the National Security Adviser to the president, for a rescheduling of the polls. We expressed our support for the commission with the hope that it will side with the people and stand on the path of the truth, in the just interest of the entire nation.
Unfortunately, after 11 hours of consultation with the leadership of the various political parties, civil society organizations and the service chiefs, INEC decided against the interest of our democracy, to postpone the elections to March 28 and April 11, as the NSA dictated.
In the light of that devastating decision taken by INEC, we the National Concensus Movement having met and considered the present state of our nation, have decided as follows:
1. We condemn in strong terms, the action of the NSA and the service chiefs, we find their threat not to provide security to INEC for the conduct of the elections as a blackmail and indeed a coup against an institution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and invariably, on the Nigerian people. The NSA does not have the constitutional mandate to advise INEC on security matters and it is not in his purview to guarantee the security of the nation. By his action in connivance with the service chiefs, he usurped the powers of the National Security Council and the Commander-in-chief, whose responsibility it is to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.
2. We find the position of the NSA that the military is launching an operation to win in six weeks, a war they have failed to fight in six years, impossible to believe, more so that it should be a basis for the postponement of our elections.
3. We challenge the excuse that the military is conducting the operation in the North East as it is in truth, the mandate of the multinational joint force and it is therefore not tenable that the military would be too engaged to provide security cover for a smooth conduct of elections. As a matter fact, a recent court judgment declared that the military cannot be used to conduct elections.
4. The elections should have been rescheduled only in the 14 local governments affected by the insurgency.
5. We are extremely disappointed that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Atahiru Jega, chose to succumb to the pressure from the service chiefs and submit to their dictates, at the expense of our collective interest as a nation. His body language showed a kind of ease that is disquieting.
6. We declare that under the unfolding circumstances, our democracy is at risk and our future as a nation is greatly threatened by this affront by the NSA, on our hallowed institution and our collective interest as a people.
7. By declaring that they cannot secure the nation to the extent of guaranteeing a smooth conduct of the elections, the National Security Adviser and the service chiefs have failed to live up to their responsibility and therefore lack the moral capacity to remain in their present positions.
8. We call on all Nigerians to be on the alert and to take ownership of the democratic process to forestall a truncation of our democracy by enemies of the people.
9. That all expression of discontent by citizens should be done within the confines of the law. Citizens must be law abiding and eschew all forms of violence, for the sake of our democracy.
We, therefore make the following demands:
1. That the National Security Adviser to the President, Col Sambo Dasuki be relieved of his position with immediate effect
2. That the Chiefs of Defence Staff, Army Staff, Air Staff and Naval Staff be relieved of their positions with immediate effect
3. That there should never be a further postponement of the elections
4. That the leadership of INEC as presently constituted under the Chairmanship of Professor Attahiru Jega should be maintained, given all due support and allowed to carry out its functions without any further interference
5. That we shall come out on the 14 of February, 2015 to make public our demands and we shall not stop until they are all met and we are convinced that the assault on our democratic process has been halted.
We are hereby, calling on all Nigerians, regardless of their political or religious persuasion to come out enmass and join us in the protests, so that together we shall fight this struggle for a better Nigeria.
We express our faith in the unity of Nigeria and our unwavering commitment to the survival of our democracy. God bless Nigeria.
Thank you very much