In a message to Nigerians on the occasion of Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebration, which was released by his media office in Abuja, the former Vice President noted that, while it is natural for disappointed expectations to lead to despair, Nigerians should not give up because democracy remains the best form of government, despite its limitations from one society to another.
While commending the sacrifices of the ordinary Nigerians who had to endure lengthy hours at the polling units to cast their votes, the former Vice President also reminded elected office holders that “democracy should not begin and end at the polling booths.”
He maintained that the tendency of leaders forgetting their oath of office or their covenant with the people can lead to disillusionment, a situation, which should not be allowed to dampen popular morale about democracy.
According to him, election is an event but governance is a process, noting that the behavior and attitudes of elective leaders while discharging their mandate would invariably affect public perception of power.
The former Vice President also argued that Nigerians didn’t come out to vote for the sake of it. “They voted because of the belief that the democratic process can transform their lives for the better.”
He urged elected leaders at all levels to welcome constructive criticisms as a means of improving the quality or standard of democratic governance.
On Nigeria’s much-criticized electoral system, which hasn’t effectively tackled rigging, the former Vice President said without tough punishment, election fixers might continue to act with impunity.
With effective prosecution of electoral offenders no matter their status, he explained, the country would be able to achieve the much-needed deterrence against this evil, which continues to undermine democracy.
Atiku Abubakar also repeated his call that electoral disputes or petitions should be resolved before leaders are sworn into office, arguing that litigations cause a lot of distraction for leaders and diversion of public funds by politicians to fight their legal battles.
He, however, urged INEC to be proactive and on its toes rather than adopting a supine posture on the grounds that its hands are tied, especially on issues of enforcing internal democracy among political parties.
The Turakin Adamawa advised INEC to initiate amendments of the electoral laws where it found them wanting instead of submission to despair or helplessness. In his words, “INEC must be more alive to its responsibilities as a means of reducing popular tendency towards frustration and anomie.”
The former Vice President noted that the Uwais report gave a lot of hope on reforming Nigeria’s electoral system, adding however, that political action is needed to give teeth to these well-articulated recommendations.
Speaking on other challenges facing the country, Atiku stressed the need to strengthen democratic institutions, especially the judiciary, which is currently battling for greater independence and credibility.
In welcoming the on-going efforts to amend sections of the country’s constitution by the parliament, Atiku implored the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to, in the same spirit take another look at its own constitution and come clean with Nigerians on the issue of zoning and power rotation.
“The party should throw out the provision of zoning in its constitution because zoning is dead and buried and there is no point for anyone pretending that it exists. I join forward-looking party men and women in calling for an open field for the best to emerge in the contest for all offices.”
On the current security challenges, the former Vice President called for citizens’ participation in issues that affect their lives.
Knowing our neighbours, he said, was one of the ways to nip security threats in the bud. He, however, called on the government to review its strategies on security issues once such strategies were found ineffective.
In his statement, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, has enjoined Nigerians to participate actively in the democratic process and collaborate with government to strengthen the institutions in order to reach the Eldorado.
Senator Mark in a remark to mark this year’s Democracy day said it was by deliberate decision and design that Nigeria chose democracy as the best form of government suited for our pluralistic society.
Senator Mark therefore canvassed that Nigerians owe it a sacred duty to nurture and sustain the democratic institutions.
He noted that democracy should not be seen or perceived as those in government versus those outside government, saying “we must all keep faith”.
Senator Mark stressed that democracy is participatory and representative enough to carter for all interests where no one or group would be marginalized or oppressed.
He said: “Whether in or outside government, everybody is a stakeholder in the democratic process. Both the ruling party and opposition parties are stakeholders in the democratic arrangement. Everyone is important and every role is relevant.
“Therefore, we are all passengers in the same boat, so we must pilot it safely so that the boat would not capsize.
“All we need is to ensure that the tripod of Presidential system of government; the executive, the legislature and the Judiciary arms are all alive and responsive to their assigned constitutional roles.
“I am very convinced that if we all play our respective roles honestly and with the fear of God and putting the people at the centre of all our actions this country will be a better place”.
Senator Mark promised that the Senate and indeed the National Assembly on its part will live up to its billings by enacting laws for the good governance for the nation.
Also ,Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has identified peaceful co-existence and speedy development as critical factors in deepening Nigeria’s democracy.
He stated this in a goodwill message to Nigerians on the occasion of the 2012 Democracy Day anniversary.
Ekweremadu who noted that democracy is not an end in itself, but an end to the wellbeing of the citizenry maintained that several studies and experiences have established that democracy and socio-economic prosperity go hand-in-hand.
One of such studies, he said, was What Makes Democracy Endure by Prezeworski and his colleagues, which established empirical evidence that the level of socio-economic development bear directly on democratic survival and growth.
“The plain message is that democracy does not thrive on an empty stomach, hence we must collectively work hard to reduce poverty and promote the quality of the life of Nigerians to strengthen their faith in the system”, he explained.
The Deputy President of Senate who expressed explicit faith in the capacity of President Goodluck
Jonathan Administration to take Nigeria to better levels of socio-economic development through its Transformation Agenda, however observed that not much development could take place in an atmosphere of discord, bad blood, and insecurity.
He therefore called on Nigerians to live in peace with one another and shun actions and utterances capable of putting the nation on the edge.
“It is in the interest of democracy that we put up structures and all constitutional reforms necessary for profitable management of the nation’s diversity to enable the vast country integrate into a real nation-state”, Ekweremadu added.He wished Nigerians a happy democracy day.
Leader of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has also said that democracy remains the only option to resolve the challenges facing the country. Senator Ndoma-Egba, in a commemorative message to Nigerians in celebration of the nation’s Democracy Day, urged Nigerians to be stakeholders in the future of the country.
He said that while Nigerians have endorsed democracy as a system of government, it is more expedient to accept democracy as a medium of expression. The statement, issued in Calabar , said: “Our democracy has matured and deepened. This is the longest interrupted episode of our democracy. We have moved from a transition of one term of a president to another term; and from one president to another president. Then one successful succession when even a president died in office. “Our challenges – economic, social, political and security notwithstanding, democracy still offers us a veritable opportunity to negotiate, discuss and resolve these challenges; and the terms of our federalism to guarantee a stronger, more united, prosperous and secured Nigeria, based on equity, equality, secularity, justice and a rectitude in the public sphere. “I congratulate Nigeria and Nigerians and urge all of us to be stakeholders in the future of our great country.”
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