INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY: NIGERIA YET TO IMPLEMENT DEMOCRATIC TENETS — STAKEHOLDERS IN ANAMBRA
Reporter : UCHE NDEKE –
Some stakeholders in Anambra State have called on all tiers of government to ensure that their policies and programmes reflect the wishes and aspirations of the citizens they govern. They made the call while commenting on International Day of Democracy.
According to them, tenets of democracy will only thrive in the country when every government consults and considers the people before initiating its programmes.
The International Day of Democracy was set aside by the United Nations in 2007 to promote the principles of democratic government, celebrate the progress of democratic reforms and to raise awareness about the the need for other parts of the world, which are yet to embrace democracy to do so.
Though Nigeria reverted to democratic rule twenty one years ago, some respondents in Awka say the country is yet to handle its affairs democratically, especially as regards to rule of law and accountability, which are basic tenets of democracy.
One of them and civil rights activist, Comrade Obi Ochije, says though Nigeria has so far witnessed twenty-one years of uninterrupted democratic rule, the country is still bedeviled with certain undemocratic realities.
“Our vote is not counting in Nigeria and that is not democracy, there is high rate of unemployment, we are not yet enjoying democracy.
“But I think the people have a great role to play because democracy is government of the people by the people,” Comrade Ochije states.
The Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Council, Comrade Emma Ifesinachi, while calling on government to be transparent in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities, notes that under a mocratic rule, the government must be accountable to the people.
“Under democracy the government derives its power from the people, the government should be accountable to the people.
“We call on Nigerian Government to be transparent and unbiased in its policies and programmes. And I call on media practitioners to continue to be the Watch Dog and not Attack or Lap Dog,” Comrade urges.
A former Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state and civil society activist, Mrs. Bridget Obi, observes that practising democracy for the past twenty-one years without military incursions, is something to feel good about. She however agrees that there is yet the need for improvement while attention should be paid to issues of marginalisation, lopsided distribution of resources and social injustice.
“Democracy is not about one section feeling that they are more superior to the other; it is not being able to share properly the available resources.
“With COVID-19 there has been a lot shortage in food security and when you talk about what has been given to cushion it, who got it? So these are the questions, because when people get what belong to them, they will continue to support the government,” Mrs. Obi espoused.
The lawmaker representing Njikoka Constituency One in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr. Timothy Ifedioramma, who described democracy as a developmental concept as regards to governance, however expresses regret that fair hearing, equality under the law, free and fair elections as well as justice are still elusive in the country.
In his message to the International Democracy Day, the United Nations Secretary General Anthonio Gutterres, particularly encourages governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable in their COVID-19 response and ensure that any emergency measures are legal, proportionate and non-discriminatory.