- Democracy remains best solution to our national problems, says Saraki
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged Nigerians to detest all forms of corruption, which take away resources that could address the needs of the poor and puts them on private hands.
This came as Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the weekend commended Nigerians for sustaining democracy in the past 17 years despite the myriad of challenges confronting the country since 1999.
Speaking at the interdenominational service to mark Democracy Day in Abuja yesterday, Osinbajo also sought prayers for the success of the Social Investment Programme of the Buhari-led administration intended to provide welfare to the poor and vulnerable in the society.
The programme would provide hope and substance to millions of Nigerians struggling to survive, he assured.
The vice-president who was represented by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, also called on Nigerians to count their blessings.
“Many nations may not have withstood the several pressures and challenges that continue to confront us as a people. But by God’s grace we still continue to stand and we will prevail. Although it appears as though these are trying times, I am confident that the Lord’s work of restoration will surely bring Nigeria to the promised land- and Nigeria shall fulfill its purpose of being a land flowing with milk and honey for all her people,” Osinbajo said.
In another development, Speaker Yakubu Dogara has said Nigeria is currently experiencing economic crises as her past leaders made easy choices instead of hard ones.
He spoke yesterday at a dedication service for Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi’s (Oyo APC) twins in Abuja.
According to a statement issued by Dogara spokesman, Mr. Turaki Hassan, the Speaker lamented that past leaders chose not to invest or diversify the economy.
“From about $110 per barrel price for crude, we are now averaging about $40 per barrel and because of the crisis in the Niger-Delta; we used to earn about $110 on 2.2 million barrels a day; right now it’s about $40 on about 1.2 million barrels a barrel per day. So you’d see now that our national wealth has gone down by as much as 50 per cent,” Dogara said.
Meanwhile, Saraki, in a statement to mark this year’s Democracy Day, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described democracy as not only the most globally accepted system of government but also the best solution to the problems confronting a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society like Nigeria.
He said in the last 17 years, the electorate had become more discerning and sophisticated, observing that the nation has got to the point where people elected to various offices now know that they are under constant watch and when they fail to meet the expectation of voters, they will be given the red card.
“It is the first time in our national history that we will have 17 unbroken years of democratically elected governments. Last year, our people demonstrated that our democracy is fast maturing as they voted out a party in power and elected another party. Since then, one can notice how people have become more and more interested in governance and the performance of those elected and appointed into public offices.
“In my own view, these are signs that our democracy has matured. Our people deserve commendation for that. This positive development is also already reflecting in the quality of governance and the level of development being witnessed across board in the country,” he stated.
Saraki further called on elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to continue to justify the confidence people reposed in them, saying both himself and his colleagues in the Senate are conscious that if they fail to live up to the expectation of the people, the next elections will be their nemesis.
He added that at a critical time like this, the nation must improve on the conduct of elections in such a manner that the freewill of the electorate will be reflected in the results announced adding that for the country to become a mature democracy, elections must be peaceful, free and fair.
“The issue of free and fair elections is a joint responsibility for all of us. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must continue to improve on its process and machinery for conduct of elections while the people must learn to shun violence and all forms of unlawful conduct during electioneering. We cannot be celebrating many years of democracy if people still take elections as if it is war and refuse to accept the decision of the majority.
“We in the National Assembly will continue to strengthen the electoral laws and other legislations that can build institutional checks against the abuse of the laws by individuals and groups. We must get to the point where people who resort to violence to achieve political objectives are severely punished,” he stated.
He also said Nigeria must become a model in Africa for the enthronement of rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights of all individuals adding that the country must show good example to other countries on the continent and in the Commonwealth nations in that regard.
In the area of economy, Saraki said the entire world was facing challenging times, arguing that what the country requires to overcome the situation are discipline, prudent management of its resources and exploration of hitherto neglected areas in creating national wealth.
“I can assure our people that the present economic problem is a temporary challenge. We will all be happy very soon. It is for this reason that, as I congratulate our people on this occasion of Democracy Day, I call on them to continue to pray for the government and support all efforts aimed at ensuring that we all reap the dividends of democracy. We should remember that tough times do not last but tough people do. God bless Nigeria. God bless Nigeria,” the statement added.