Former Minister of Solid Minerals and one time Vice-President, World Bank (Africa), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili said on Saturday, that the Nigerian democracy is blemished.
Ezekwesili delivered a keynote address in Lagos at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series with the theme ‘Rethinking credible elections, accountable democracy and good governance in Nigeria’, in commemoration of the 85th birthday of Professor Wole Soyinka.
According to the former Minister of Education during Obasanjo’s tenure,:”The sanctity of the Nigerian man is under significant threat because of the failure of the government to uphold that sanctity. This means that we must all rise to demand a complete rethink of the kind of democratic processes that lead to poor governance.
“If our democratic processes over a period of 20 years has only but delivered a devaluation of the Nigerian life, then it must be scrutinized .It calls necessarily for a broad conversation.
“We must save our democracy from blemish.Our current democracy is blemished because of its inability to deliver the desirable outcome for citizens .If the citizens do not feel the sense of improvement, that must be corrected”.
Ezekwesili also argued that the citizens must realize how important their role is. She called on Nigerians to hold the government accountable because the office of the citizen is the most important office in a democracy.
“The citizens must understand how important their role is in a democracy. The office of the citizen is the most important office in a democracy”.
The former World Bank VP expressed concern over the quality of life of the average Nigerian.She added that when the quality of life is not improved among the citizens, they will start asking questions.
“When the quality of life is not improved amongst the generality of your citizens, they will tend to ask you some day, ‘democracy for who’?and they will ask you ‘democracy for what’?
“We have had 20 years of uninterrupted democracy but if we stop at that, we have done damage to the psyche of Nigerian citizens whose power to vote is the basis of democracy.
“Another indicator that is clear is the indicator of human capital development.
In all measures of human development, Nigeria comes out a mediocre.We have not attained a five out of a possible ten. When you think of economic growth which is the driver of reduction in poverty, you find that good governance is still a dream. The reason being that in the past almost five years, we have been at the lowest level of growth”.
The event held at Muson Centre’s Agip Recital Hall also had Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), OluwoleOsaze-Uzzi; Senior Programme Officer, MacArthur Foundation, Amina Salihu; Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan and Chair, Editorial Board Nigeria Info Radio Group, Rotimi Sankore as the panelists.