How to Deepen Nigeria’s Democratic Culture, By Fayemi





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*Makes case for citizen-friendly security agencies, greater social investments

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has said that the gains so far recorded in the country’s democratization process remained an unfinished job that needs to be improved upon in order to serve the greater number of the people.

He advocated for a re- orientation for people who go into politics and strengthening of institution capacity of the state governments as part of factors that would aide democratic growth in the country.

Delivering the Executive Course 41, 2019 Lecture at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State, on Tuesday, Governor Fayemi said Nigerians can commend themselves for the modest successes they have achieved since returning to democratic rule 20 years ago, because there is no “ready-made democracy” anywhere.

Dr Fayemi who spoke on the topic “Twenty Years of Democratisation in Nigeria: Looking Backward, Moving Forward”, said in spite of general dissatisfaction with the level of democratic development in the country, Nigeria has indeed made some appreciable progress in many fronts.

He, however highlighted a number of areas which urgently required radical improvement in order to deepen the nation’s democratic culture. These, according to him, include the need for citizen-friendly security agencies, inclusive governance and greater social and human capital investment among others.

He said: “Going forward, our security agencies need to be more citizen-centred and friendlier to the people. With democracy, the security training and operation should be the one that engages than confronts.

“It must be seen to be the one that protects not only the people in government, but that is very responsible, responsive and respects the fundamental human rights of the citizens.”

DR Fayemi said the democratic process would become more functional and beneficial if it leads to people having a say in who governs them as well as having the benefits of their participation percolate to the grassroots.

According to him, “democratisation of the nation needs to move from just political democratisation to economic democratisation”.

“The wide difference between the haves and the have-nots in our country is such that has made constant confrontations inevitable. Unfortunately, these confrontations do not come directly as class contestation, they usually manifest insidiously as communal, religious, criminal or sectarian disputations.”, he added.

“One of the strategies to bridge the frightening gap between those at the bottom of the economic ladder and those on the cliff of the pyramid would be to adopt some social investment measures that take care of the poorest of the poor.

Speaking further, Fayemi, who is Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), noted that while many go into politics for the with wrong intentions, many citizens are not only cynical about government, they have developed a negative mind set about people in government, a situation which he said does not augur well for the polity.

He called for a new political culture that would eradicate what he described as “primordial clannish boundaries” such as the concept that a citizen can only contest an election in a place called their “state of origin”.

“Nigeria, he says “must boldly interrogate the definition of a people as “non-indigene”, “Settlers”, or even “Strangers” in a country they call their own, adding that “Democracy makes more meaning when every citizen has the same rights and privileges no matter where they live or settle”

“In our democratisation journey, we need to redefine the concept of service and leadership. The unfortunate perception that those in charge are in office to better their lots and benefit their immediate constituency is one of the reasons for the very kind of mutually antagonistic, bitter and destructive politics we play. This has made institutional building to suffer a lot of disruptive tendencies because people mostly interpret government’s actions in terms of parochial interest”.

 

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