Good governance and voting the right candidates into power are the keys to sustaining democracy in Nigeria ~ Chief Leo Chigbo Emesue (Ezu Abagana)
The CEO of Megavox Foundation writes on June 12 Democracy Day celebration in Nigeria.
As a proud, productive and hardworking people we have continuously engaged the distortions and contradictions precipitated by our past history. At the same time, we have learnt not to blame the past or attempt to rationalize the environment in which we found ourselves at political independence. Poor capacity to manage inherited challenges, bad leadership, corruption, and failure to build lasting, effective and efficient institutions threw our country into situations that caused us all a lot of pain and cost us a lot of resources and opportunities. But we rebounded from those debilitating situations and refocused our efforts at rebuilding and repositioning our country for greatness. While it is true that the advent of military rule suffocated civil society and closed democratic spaces, we have also shown that irrespective of personality or regime type, we believe in democracy, the will of the people, the rule of law and in building a prosperous future collectively.
Today, we are working together to ensure the sustenance and consolidation of our democratic enterprise. As a people that have experienced undemocratic conduct, we value democracy in all its ramifications. As a people that have witnessed and suffered from bad governance and dictatorship, we value our freedoms in every way possible. As a people and nation whose present and future were contaminated and compromised by corruption, misplaced priorities and waste, we are beginning to resolve that never again are we going to give room for such forms of resource mismanagement. As a nation that was at some time ostracized in the global community with all the attendant humiliation, we are beginning to enjoy a new acceptance and respect.
We must never compromise on the need for good governance. It is the key to democratic sustainability and consolidation. Good governance remains, in some respect, the most critical ingredient for eliminating poverty, instability, violence, and underdevelopment. With good governance, you can be assured of accountability, respect for the rule of law and human rights, transparency, sensitivity to the plight of the disadvantaged, and the deepening and consolidation of democracy. Political and social reconciliation within and between communities, constituencies and nations become possible. New voices get onto the political landscape even as new leaders, ideas, and contestation emerge to strengthen democratic conduct. Values of social justice and the common good become those that shape and guide relationships in society.
Let us not allow those that seem pathologically fixated on operating a system of “anything goes” and “business as usual” to distract, confuse, intimidate, derail or compromise us as we lay solid foundations for a better future for all. Only by joining hands to build an environment that is conducive to creativity, innovation, production and exchange and purposeful social engagements can we make progress together.
Let me however point out that democracy must, like love, be nurtured, protected, appreciated, encouraged and massaged at all times. We must not take things for granted or assume that the coast is clear and all things are normal. We must not take ourselves for granted and heap insults and invectives on one another individually, ethnically, religiously or sectional. In traditional African society, such acts are indicative of background and upbringing.
In the process of reversing bad governance, corruption, and bad leadership, it is normal that vestiges, practices, agents and values of the ancient or discredited regime remain in some nook or corner. It is only through prayers, hard work, collective vigilance and undiluted loyalty to the nation that we can permanently overcome the forces of socio-economic and political opportunism. Surely, it is not by taking recourse to primordial and antiquated means and methods that have not served us well in the past, rather they have been divisive and destructive. Those who want to be respected must learn to respect others. Insults and abuses are also indications of bankruptcy of ideas and weakness of the argument.
It is only through collective positive democratic action and persuasive arguments and methods that we can deepen, strengthen and widen democracy and democratic values and practices. It is only through working together that we can strengthen democratic political institutions and roll back or contain the forces of reaction on a permanent basis. I call on fellow Nigerians, irrespective of class, religion, region, gender and interest to become progressive and patriotic stakeholders in thoroughly grounding our democracy.
We must all become part of the vanguard in the fight against corruption. Corruption has never been a tool for growth and development. We must join hands to stamp out all forms of violence in our society and promote the values of inclusion, tolerance, accommodation, dialogue and the rule of law. We must encourage youths and women’s participation in politics and Governance to create new leaders with new voices and new ideas. We must democratize the institutions of politics including our political parties to make them better capable of responding to the needs of Nigeria and the rapidly changing global divisions of labour and decision-making. We must, as Nigerians, transcend old, non-functional, even discredited basis of power arrangements and permutations that led us no where other than spreading hatred, suspicion, inefficiency, corruption, and the contamination of progressive conduct and values.
Finally, we must begin to look again at redefining the purpose of politics and leadership to ensure that we do not overlook track record, discipline, capacity to deliver, integrity, and the essence of humanity- the fear of God.
We must always remember chief MKO Abiola who is the reason for the shifting of Nigeria Democracy day from May 29 to June 12.
Happy Democracy Day….
Megavox Foundation for Youths.