Democracy only thrives where there is peace, transparency – SGF

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, says that democracy only thrives where there is peace, transparency and accountability.

Mustapha made this assertion, at the 2018 Democracy Day Lecture, with the Theme: “Peace Building and Good Governance for sustainable development”, on Monday in Abuja.

The SGF described democracy as a globally cherished and accepted practice for electing leaders, distributing wealth, enthroning good governance and bringing development to the people.

“In Nigeria, we have for almost two decades, experienced four consecutive and successful transition of power from one democratic dispensation to another.

“Most notable is the fact that we recently witnessed a transition from an incumbent to an opposition.

“That singular feat gives assurance that our democracy has taken root in our country, the Nigerian people can now freely decide who their leaders would be and that their votes now count.

“Democracy entails, preventing arbitrariness in governance, ensuring justice and equity, freedom of speech and absence of corruption, where nationhood thrives,” he said.

He explained that, the theme for 2018 democracy day lecture was apt as the most important role of democracy and all its attributes was about about sustainable development.

According to the SGF, Nigeria is a member of the United Nations that signed unto the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commitment which aims to keep people safe.

He added that democracy also ensures fair administration of Justice in accordance with the rule of Law and genuinely building inclusive institutions that would provide the people with a voice in the decision-making processes that affect them.

Mustapha said that the 2030 agenda for the SDGs emphasised,”there can be no peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without peace.”

He said Nigeria is similarly a signatory to the Open Government Partnership and has committed to four key thematic areas namely: promoting fiscal transparency, access to Information, anti – corruption and asset disclosure, citizen engagement and empowerment.

“All these thematic areas remain critical ingredients for good governance and sustainable development”, he said.

Delivering the lecture, Prof. Attahiru Jega, former chairman, Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC), said Nigeria had come a long way in the quest to fulfil its aspirations for democracy.

“It could have been worse than this; it can, and should have been better, but I am glad it is not worse than what we have today.

“We should just try harder to make things much better than they have been, with sustained incremental positive changes.

“This is where the theme of today’s lecture becomes pertinent, especially if posed as a question: how can Nigeria attain enduring peace, predicated on good, democratic governance and sustainable development?” he said.

Jega described the theme as a board sweep to explore the connections between, or the interconnection of, the concepts which were contemporaneously, of paramount importance-in discussing the political economies of Nigeria, namely Peace building, Good (democratic) governance and sustainable development.

He said the conceptualising of peace building is a concept often used in the context of post -civil war or post -conflict situations.

“It is about addressing the factors that cause or exacerbate inequality, conflict and violence.

“It is also about mitigating risk of conflict and preventing a relapse of conflict dynamics.

“It is about transforming socio-economic environmental systems so that they sustain progress and equitable opportunity,” he said.

In conceptualising of good governance, he noted that social science concepts were often ambiguous and defiant of precise definition.

“The reality, however, is that the fragility of our systems, institutions and structures, circumscribed as they have been by bad governance, require a drastic restoration,” he said.

He, however, said that good governance is the framework and the foundation for peace building and sustainable development.

“Haven established the interconnectedness of peace building, good democratic governance and sustainable development, and having reviewed the current state of things in Nigeria presently, with recommendations for improvements.

“Given our diversity, which has historically been complicated by mutual suspicions and fears, and bedevilled by perennial conflicts, we must nurture and develop the infrastructure for peace and we must invest massively in peace building and in sustainable development.

“The major challenge of our time is how to make Nigeria more peaceful, Just and inclusive, especially for those most at risk of violence, injustice and exclusion’, and how to embark on a solid pathway to sustainable development, he said

He said that only good democratic governance can provide the appropriate framework for meeting this challenge on a sustainable basis.

According to him, this is not a manna that can fall from heaven while we all “siddon look” it is a product of concerted vigorous struggles by progressives democratic forces in our country. (NAN)