Let’s use democracy to achieve good governance, says Saraki

By Chimezie Godfrey

The immediate past President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has advised politicians to use democracy to achieve good governance to the benefit of Nigerians.

Saraki said this in a statement on Friday, as part of his 2021 Democracy Day message to Nigerians.

He noted that democracy is not just the absence of the military but that it should be used for good governance.

He said,”As we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, I congratulate all Nigerians on this occasion. It is noteworthy that unlike before 1999, we have sustained the semblance of a democratic system for 22 unbroken years.

“There is no doubt that Democracy is the best system in evolving a modern government and it remains the most acceptable globally.

“However, the celebration today should also help us to raise the question of whether democracy is working to serve the interest of Nigerians.

“After all, it is known widely that democracy is not just the absence of military rule or the routine conduct of elections after which some individuals are announced to have been elected. The real end product of democracy should be good governance.

“It is obvious that in Nigeria, democracy has not given birth to good governance. We have inadvertently operated a democracy which instead of being the government of the people is rather creating a distance between the people and what should be their government.”

He added that elections should be for the purpose of allowing free choice between competing ideologies, manifestos, policies, and programmes.

“Elections should not just be about putting people in office and when they get there, they start groping in the dark or thinking about what to do and where to start from.

“This approach has set us back for many years and deprived our people the opportunity to enjoy good governance or earn what in the national cliche is known as ‘Dividend of Democracy’.

“Today, our country faces security challenges and the government is not able to adequately protect the citizenry.

“There is massive unemployment which has impoverished a high percentage of the population and many citizens are questioning the basis for the unity of the country.

“These are pointers to the question of whether democracy is actually working in our clime.

“However, since we have accepted that the best form of government is democracy, we have no option than to make the system work for our country and her people.

“Thus, I appeal to all stakeholders to give peace a chance. This is because nothing can be achieved in the absence of peace.

“The quest for peace places a burden on all of us who are leaders, both those in and out of government, to effectively shoulder our responsibilities to our country.”

Saraki stressed that the reason why Nigerians mark this year’s Democracy Day, is that there should be a departure from the usual rhetoric.

“We must find new approaches to remind ourselves that democracy is continuously being undermined and endangered in our country.

“General insecurity, poverty and other socio-economic problems continue to make what should be a representative government look strange to the people.

“The electoral process and the attitude of politicians do not support the claim that we operate a democracy.

“Also, our elections still lack appropriate legislations and conventions that are aimed at entrenching free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.

“That is why today, the courts, more than the votes cast by the electorate, determine who occupies top political posts,” he said.

He enjoined all members of the political class to focused on debating the Nigeria that is the desire of Nigerians after the next round of elections.

He added that efforts should be concentrated in discussing solutions to the problems that are threatening to bury the country or push her down the precipice.

According to him, this is the time for all discussions to shift to solutions, creative and innovative ideas.

Saraki added that everybody who wants to occupy any position in post-May 2023 Nigeria and all those who love this country must as a matter of urgency and patriotic duty enter the arena in discussing ideas that will solve the problems facing the country.

He urged that the public space must now become an arena or open market for contest of innovative ideas and the best in time should be allowed to prevail.