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Akinyemi canvasses two-party system to sanitise democracy




FOR Nigeria to sanitise its democratic structure and solve most of the inherent problems threatening the unity of the country, former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has called for the introduction of a two-party system.

Akinyemi, while delivering the maiden edition of the Engineer Ette. I. I Etteh Annual Distinguished Lecture in Lagos yesterday, said the current multi-party system, which allows formations of many political parties in Nigeria, is a clog in the wheel of growth of the country’s democratic culture.

The former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), who described himself as “an unrepentant advocate of two-party system”, traced the history of political conflicts in Nigeria since 1960 and heaped much of the blames on the practice of multi-party democracy which rather than unite the country, emphasized the cracks in national unity.

In the lecture titled “National Reconciliation and Integration as Catalyst for Sustainable Development”, delivered to a gathering of professionals, especially engineers, Akinyemi said being “a complex country to manage”, Nigeria must encourage a political system that would promote unity among its diverse ethnic groupings.

According to him, “During the first Republic, we had three major political parties: the NPC for the North, the NCNC from both the East and the West even though in public perception, it was regarded as an Eastern party, and the Action Group from the West. All the other parties were just ancillary parties.

“During the Second Republic, the pattern was repeated. The NPN was basically a Northern party, the NPP was basically an Eastern party and the UPN was basically a Western party. All other parties were again, ancillary parties.

“The putative Third Republic was the only exception. The military regime decreed a two-party system. There was no Northern party, no Eastern party and no Western party. All of us had to find room in one party or the other rather than to keep setting up ethnic parties.

“Besides multi-party system allows for various underhand dealings and secret permutations done in nocturnal meetings where female politicians and people like me who cannot sacrifice their night’s rest, are effectively locked out.”

Akinyemi, a former chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the military during the dark days of dictatorship, especially in the quest to revalidate the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late business mogul, Chief M.K.O Abiola, said the political success that Nigeria recorded that year was made possible because of the two-party system.

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