Forum urges better funding, independence of institutions to deepen democracy
Relevant institutions saddled with responsibilities regarding election management and nurturing of democracy must be well funded and given more autonomy to deepen civil rule in Nigeria.
This was the consensus of speakers at the 41st Convention and Lecture of the Neo-Black Movement (NBM) of Africa which held at the weekend with the theme, Strengthening The Voices Of Nigeria’s Democracy, in Abuja. In her presentation, titled “The Voice of Democracy Through Security – Empowering the youth to achieve enduring democracy, the keynote speaker and Assistant Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mrs. Ikponmwosa Ekanem, regretted that most youths these days had become willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians.
She recalled how security agents engaged suspected political thugs in a duel in one of the South West states in the recently concluded governorship and state house of assembly elections when the youthful hoodlums were attempting to snatch ballot boxes.
But for the timely intervention of the police and military personnel on duty, Mrs. Ekanem noted that the action would have marred the outcome of the exercise in the affected council area.She said: “Since independence, the principal challenge that had confronted our political dispensation has been our inability to conduct credible, free and fair elections. Scholars have argued that the only election that was adjudged credible was the June 12, 1993 polls, but unfortunately, it was aborted.“It is contended however, that for almost two decades of this promising democratic rule in Nigeria, it has remained a mirage to achieve free and fair elections. This is merely again, the opinion of scholars and political commentators.
“Democracy cannot be achieved unless there are periodic elections. Elections, though, considered as pre-requite for good governance, cannot be seen to count, unless they are credible.“In the same vein, an election cannot be judged as credible, free and fair unless the following agents of democracy – security, media, civil society organisations and the youths – perform their roles as key stakeholders.”
The NSCDC official observed that democracy, which is essentially a method of organising society politically, must contain five basic ingredients for it to be truly addressed as such. She listed them as equality; sovereignty of the people; respect for human life; rule of law; and individual liberty.
Ekanem recollected that the arrowheads of the nationalist movements in colonial Nigeria were youths in their early 20s and 30s, who were mostly students of higher institutions of learning both at home and abroad. “As early as 1944, Nmandi Azikiwe, still in his 30s, founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun (NCNC). Meanwhile, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Belawa, Almadu Bello and Samuel Akintola, among others within same age bracket, rose to prominence through their activism,” she added.
The lead speaker therefore charged the youths to take their rightful place of pride by identifying with the Neo-Blackist movement and other groups to play actively in the political landscape through exchange of ideas, philosophies and ideologies that could take Nigeria to the next level of development where it could favourably compete in the comity of nations.She urged punitive measures for erring security personnel and managers of the electoral system to deter others.
“Let use our collective position to foster a viable and thriving Nigeria that we all desire today and for our unborn children tomorrow,” Ekanem appealed.Earlier, the movement’s President Worldwide, Chief Felix Kupa, reiterated that the group has zero tolerance for violence, adding that the theme of the event in this year of general elections could not have been more apt.
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