The Ghanaian Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu, jolted Nigerians who attended the first anniversary of the 7th Assembly and commemoration of June 12, 1993 presidential election by the Lagos State House of Assembly Tuesday when he told them that in Ghana, it is believed that Nigerians get to know the results of their own election even before the exercise is held.
Mr. Iddrisu, who represented the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, at the event held at the chamber of the State Assembly, said jokingly that during elections in his country, some of them had complained when they thought the results of the elections were being delayed, but some others reminded him and his colleagues that they were even better off because in Nigeria, results were known before the elections are held.
The joke did not however go down well with some of the invited guests and lecturers like Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye and Dele Alake, who asked him to go back to his country with a change of the negative perception.
Prof. Akinfeleye categorically informed him that his perception was no longer true of the current realities in the country as Nigeria is now known for credible elections.
Iddrisu, who spoke on behalf of the country’s Vice President at the special parliamentary session in the House, said most countries in Africa were plagued by lack of accountability in government.
The minister, who led a delegation of members of the Ghanaian parliament to the Lagos Assembly, said the only solution to this was for the legislature to use its powers to ensure effective checks and balances while co-operating with the executive.
Idrissu reeled out the advantages of his country’s parliamentary system of government, adding that it creates effective collaboration between the legislature and the executive arm of government.
He commended the members of the Lagos State House of Assembly for lifting the legislature in Nigeria above standard as witnessed in their activities.
In his presentation titled, ‘True Federalism As Panacea For National Development and Integration: The Roles of the Press’, the Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, tasked the press on elaborate reporting without fear or favour as through this the system could be sanitised.
“Journalists must write dispassionately in order to promote national development and integration.
“There is the need for courageous will if we must have true federalism. Nigerian politicians must change from military mentality and psyche,” he said.
Akinfeleye, who said he was not opposed to honouring the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, however lamented that the President took the wrong step by naming the University of Lagos after him, claiming that the government should have named the National Assembly or Aso Rock Villa after the late politician since the then Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, denied him access to the villa then.
“I regard the announcement of the name change as a political miscalculation and illogical inconsistency which cannot lead to true federalism.
“As we celebrate this year’s June 12, it will not be out of place for Mr. President to declare June 12 as national public holiday,” added Akinfeleye.
Speaking at the event, Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji eulogised the late Chief Abiola and urged the Federal Government to accord him a worthy honour
While giving her remarks, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, described political office holders in the country as the major problems facing Nigeria.
According to her, the Nigerian presidential system of government was the best thing that could happen in the country with diverse cultural values, but the problem had to do with those who have been bestowed with the authority to govern.
She further took a swipe at the citizens for their indifference to the way they are governed, adding that the people have lost their moral values.
She said that Nigeria now needs divine intervention and special favour from God due to its current condition, stressing that this is the best time for every citizen to begin to show commitment.
Noting that campaigning for offices during elections had to do with competence, she emphasised that, “it is not about rigging; if you know you are not competent, then leave the stage for another person to play.
“I’m sure when we are seeking elective offices, we make a lot of promises but when we get there, we start doing another thing not caring about others once we are okay.
“How far can that take us? To me, the best thing that can happen to us is the presidential system of government that ensures checks and balances, but then, how committed are we as a people to the oath of office we swore to?
“How committed are we to our constituencies? Whether we like it or not, the President has constituency-the entire nation, governors have their states and members of the Houses of Assembly.
“Let us for example, take some aspects of life like water, electricity, education and face it for one year; we would get it done, it is impossible.
“If we really think about others and we love them the way we love ourselves, we would do the right things.”
Meanwhile, the former Governor of Lagos State and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has described Nigeria as a country without government but perpetual dictatorship.
Tinubu, who stated this at the 19th anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, said the country had deviated from democracy.
“If anybody says that we had democracy in 1999 when we started, I will say ‘yes’ but now we do not have democracy, justice and freedom. The danger is here.
“We had rule of law until few years ago when the National Assembly amended the Constitution and took our right away through the back door. We were able to retrieve a stolen mandate in Osun, Ekiti and Edo states.
“But immediately they noticed it, they went ahead to amend the Constitution to limit the right of Nigerians to fair hearing to 180 days,” he said.
He urged lawyers and pro-democracy activists to challenge the amendment in court, saying that allowing the trend to stay will mar future elections and plunge the country’s perceived democracy into total illusion.
Tinubu, who backed Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s position against rigging the 2015 election, argued: “if you take my rights, you are asking me to resort to self help and it is dangerous for this country.”
He said renaming University of Lagos in honour of the late Chief Abiola gives an impression that Abiola was a sectional leader.
According to him, since President Goodluck Jonathan now knew that Abiola actually won the election, the politician should be recognised post-humously as the nation’s second democratically elected president.
By Eromosele Ebhomele & Jamiu Yisa