Laleye Dipo in Minna
As Nigerians mark 18 years of democratic governance Tuesday, former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has said that politicians in the country are no longer adhering to the rules of the game of politics.
Gen. Babangida made the observation in a statement to mark this year’s Democracy Day in Minna on Monday.
“As we celebrate eighteen years of democracy in our country, Democratic governance has been polarised along divisive ethnic and religious lines. It is indeed worrisome that active politicians are not adhering to the rules of the game of politics.
“Our political parties since May 29th 1999 have no distinct ideologies with internal squabbles and cross carpeting that is not healthy to our democracy the order of the day.”
Babangida said as the nation approaches the 2019 general election and electioneering starts, it is necessary for the country to again look at the desirability of building a unique two-party structure to bring sanity to the polity.
He however said in whatever circumstance the country found itself “we must continue to exercise democratic tenets which promote freedom and respect for one another”.
The former military president commended the resilience of Nigerians in adopting democratic structures across the three tiers of government for an interrupted period of 18 years, and expressed the hope that “the general election next year will further consolidate democratic governance, freedom and security”.
Noting that the country’s journey to nationhood and democracy from 1960 to date had been characterised by “upheavals and turbulences”, Babangida also said the country “must cherish our commitment to remain a united country, in brotherhood and respect for one another”.
“We must also appreciate the strength and value of our diversity, with due understanding and recognition of the interests of various ethnic nationalities in our hearts,” he said.
He said Nigeria has had its share of conflicts and political instability, just like many other nations and states, but had always survived against all odds, adding that it would be in our own interest to look for solutions to the problems confronting us as a nation.
Babangida reiterated his “resolve as a Nigerian to the unity and indivisibility of our dear nation, which our founding fathers struggled to gain from the British colonial rule”.