By Salisu Sani Idris
#TrackNigeria: The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II, says the older generation should trust the younger ones with governance while they are still alive, so there will not be large a vacuum when they are gone.
Sanusi made call on Thursday, at the 2019 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture, organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF) in Abuja.
This year’s lecture was themed: “Towards Credible, Peaceful And Participatory Election; Moving Nigeria’s Democracy Forward’’.
The Emir said that it was “extremely important’’ that older politicians gave the younger ones the chance to man the affairs of the nation, not because they were the majority, but because they had shown the commitment and capacity to provide the kind of leadership Nigeria required.
He recalled that most of Nigeria’s heads of state, such as former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Generals Muhammed and Yakubu Gowon, who took the reins of power during their time, did so at young age; and also did incredibly well.
Also speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the foundation, Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, said the platform provided by the lecture series had contributed to shaping public discourse that mattered to Nigeria in particular, and Africa at large.
Muhammed-Oyebode, who is the daughter of the slain Head of State, noted that positive interventions and outcomes in society had been achieved as a result of the follow-up on action points, suggestions and commitments made during previous editions of the lecture by the organisers.
She described this year’s edition as apt because it was only two days to general elections in the country.
“This year’s annual lecture is especially timely and relevant. Indeed the issue of peaceful democratic transitions has been on the front burner in Africa in the past few years.
“This year alone, we have different levels of elections in at least 16 African countries.
“Sadly, these countries facing elections in Africa, Nigeria inclusive, are often flagged as volatile states in the international community.
“It is thus important that Nigeria sets a good precedence for other African countries to follow with the peaceful conduct of the elections this weekend,’’ she said.
The CEO said though her father led a military administration, he believed strongly in Nigeria’s democracy and subscribed to the cardinal democratic principles of civilian supremacy and military neutrality within a participatory democracy.
“General Muhammed believed that African countries had the capacity for self-rule, and the ability to lead progressive governments that delivered on the dividends of peace and prosperity to the people of Africa.”
In his goodwill address, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the Special representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) said elections were peaceful when all stakeholders understood their primary role.
Chambas said the signing of peace accords by candidates for the coming elections, illustrated an understanding of their responsibilities.
The former ECOWAS president said the UN remained committed to promoting free, fair and credible polls in Nigeria.
He stressed the need to collectively increase women and youths participation in elections for a truly democratic process.
On her part, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said the signing of the accord by candidates for the elections showed that democracy remained the bedrock in the development agenda of Nigeria.
Speaking on the topic; Towards Credible, Peaceful and participatory elections: Moving Nigeria’s Democracy Forward’’, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said it was fitting that the convening was taking place on the 33rd Anniversary of the assassination of Murtala Ramat Muhammed and was focusing on the issue of credible elections.
Odinkalu said it was Muhammed who set Nigeria on the “sometimes fitful path of perfecting its imperfections through the exercise of democratic choice in constituting leadership’’.
He said though the elections were taking place in Nigeria; the larger context must be Africa’s continuing struggles with institutionalising democratic governments.
According to him, the fate of elective democracy in Nigeria is important for the trajectory on Africa of “a government of the people, for the people and by the people’’, and so it is important to focus on the essential issues that must define and control how the country approaches and manages them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the MMF is a non-profit organisation committed to the well being of the underprivileged and the reduction of poverty and conflicts in the society.
NAN also reports that this year’s lecture was also attended by many notable personalities including the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, and a former president of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae. (NAN)