Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says civil servants now lose their jobs for criticising politicians in position of power. Abubakar said this in a statement to mark the 25th anniversary of June 12.
He was apparently citing the case of Bolouere Opukiri, an official of the media unit of the Presidential amnesty office who lost her job after criticising Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the wife of the president.
She had described then acting president as “a novice” for travelling out of the country at a time President Muhammadu Buhari was receiving medical treatment in London, and criticised Aisha Buhari for saying “hyenas and jackals” had taken over her husband’s government.
She was fired seven days later.
Abubakar said the foundation of a democratic society is the guarantee of fundamental human rights that gives the citizenry the freedom of speech.
He noted that it is the exclusive responsibility of the state through the various security organisations to see to the protection of these fundamental rights of the people.
He added that there is a growing culture of arbitrariness in some of the institutions of government at all levels that is “contradictory to the notion of inclusiveness and fairness that a democratic society guarantees”.
“Today, across our major cities and even in the hinterlands, citizens, especially the youth, can hardly walk freely in open avenues without the police stopping them to search through the content of their mobile handsets,” he said.
“Civil servants now lose their jobs just because they choose to criticize politicians in government positions; there are even suggestions in some quarters that civil servants should be barred from signing to social media networks.
“Opposition politicians are regularly being hounded on wanton criminal and civil prosecutions.
“All of these narratives have become a consistent pattern of behavior that is antithetical to an open and democratic society.
“In many of the states across the country, there is a reign of fascism with governors who have suddenly become overlords dealing ruthlessly with anyone who dares to challenge their ruthless foothold of intimidation and oppression.
“Perhaps at this point, we need to remind ourselves that the democracy which we enjoy today did not come cheap price; It came at the cost of supreme price paid by persons that included Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Maj-Gen Shehu Yar’Adua, Chief Alfred Rewane and Bagauda Kaltho, among thousands of other patriots.”
Abubakar reminded the people that democracy is not merely a mechanism of appointing a government, saying “its beauty is in the inherent safeguard to the citizenry to live and prosper as free people under the law”.
He called on all political actors to let June 12 and all that it embodies, inspire them to promote democratic principles, especially as Nigeria is about to go to the polls again.