The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) has said that Nigeria was on the wrong course based on the “wasteful energy being invested in the 2023 general election”.
In a statement on Wednesday by the coalition’s General Secretary, Chief Ayo Opadokun, NADECO stated that the exercise amounted to misdirected pursuit of a sectional rather than national agenda.
NADECO was formed in 1994 by pro-democracy campaigners to resist the military regime of the General Sani Abacha and clamour for the validation of the 12 June 1993 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola, which Abacha’s predecessor, General Ibrahim Babangida had voided.
“What has been the benefits of all the elections already held since 1998/1999 except that they have produced misguided, perverted and ethically unfit public office fellows sponsored to important political offices by retired military strongmen and their civilian collaborators who have captured Nigeria by the Gulag since January 15, 1966,’’ NADECO wondered.
The statement further stated that NADECO noted without any reservation that election was not the national priority but diligent pursuit of agenda to return Nigeria to federal constitutional governance upon which it secured independence.
Besides, it disowned a NADECO United States chapter which it said issued a statement on 1 August without attribution or known address.
The statement added that NADECO would like to state without any equivocation that it had no existing branch in the US. It noted that the group held an international conference presided over by its then leader, the late Chief Anthony Enahoro, at Virginia, USA in October/November 1999, and decided to wind down its international operations and activities thenceforth.
It further stated that, since then there had been no discussion or decision to reopen any office outside Nigeria till date.
Opadokun added: “NADECO believes that Nigerians, either as individuals or groups, have their constitutional rights to freedom of expression as provided for in Section 39 of Chapter IV dealing with fundamental human rights and directive principle of state policy of the disputed 1999 Constitution. However, such a right does not permit anyone to commit perjury by using other people’s name or platform. If anyone is sure of the conviction of his heart, the person should be bold enough to create personal or group platform to canvass chosen views and opinions.
“NADECO is ever sensitive to its image and reputation so much that it has always maintained dignified silence whenever it was in the national interest to do so and to be bold and courageous to speak truth to power whenever there was a necessity for national intervention. And we are not about to change course by using expletives on any public officer rather than criticising the wrongly headed issues being pursued by the Nigerian state”.’
According to Opadokun, NADECO informs the general public, both local and general, that as a body of respected statesmen, civil and military, ethnic nationality leaders, civil society organisations, religious and traditional rulers, women, youth, academia and professional groups which presented itself to the public in May 1994, it has no connection whatsoever with the so-called NADECO, USA, which bore no address nor attribution.
Formed on 15 May 1994 by a broad coalition of Nigerian democrats, NADECO aggressively agitated against Abacha’s military administration in favour of the actualisation of Abiola 12 June 1993 mandate. The coalition quickly became the symbol of mass resistance against military rule. On 11 June 1994, using the groundwork laid by NADECO, Abiola declared himself President and went into hiding. He reemerged and was promptly arrested on 23 June.
In August 1999, the coalition filed a claim for $20 million in compensation for abuses suffered under the Abacha regime.