Former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), has urged Nigerians to once more look at the need to build a unique two-party structure in the country at this critical period of electioneering year.
In a statement he issued yesterday to mark the Democracy Day, Babangida stated that the political parties in Nigeria since May 29, 1999, have no distinct ideologies with internal squabbles and cross carpeting that is not healthy to the countryâ€™s democracy.
He also reiterated his resolve as a Nigerian to the unity and indivisibility of the country, which according to him, the countryâ€™s founding fathers struggled to gain from the British colonial rule.
â€œAs we celebrate 18 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 rule of the game of politics. Our political parties since May 29, 1999 have no distinct ideologies with internal squabbles and cross carpeting that is not healthy to our democracy. It is high time we look once more on the need to build a unique two party structures in the country at this critical period of electioneering year,â€ Babangida explained.
According to him, the countryâ€™s journey to nationhood and democracy from 1960 to date has been characterised by upheavals and turbulences, adding that Nigerians must cherish their commitment to remain a united country, in brotherhood and respect for one another.
â€œWe 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,â€ he added.
Babangida acknowledged that Nigeria has had its share of conflicts and political instability, just like many other nations and states, noting that the country always survived against all odds.
â€œIn our efforts to promote and protect democratic institutions, we should not forget the roles and sacrifices of our gallant armed forces in the checkered history of nation-building,â€ he said.
He said it would be in the interest of Nigerians to look for solutions to the problems confronting the country, stressing that in whatever circumstance Nigerians find themselves, they must continue to exercise democratic tenants which promote freedom and respect of one another.
FG Must End Wanton Killings, Says Atiku
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has asked the federal government to see the task of ending the murderous carnage taking place in parts of the country as its prime responsibility.
In a message to mark this yearâ€™s Democracy Day celebration, Atiku urged Nigerians to spare some time to reflect and mourn all those murdered in the ongoing needless killings across our dear country.
In the statement issued yesterday, Atiku also harped on the need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and for the government to be accountable to the people in order not truncate democracy.
Atiku said: â€œThis carnage has gone on for too long and must stop. In a letter that I sent to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria recently on these killings, I pointed out, and I repeat it here, that only government can stop these senseless killings if we are to avoid major and further damage to the fabric of our fragile unity.
â€œNigeriaâ€™s journey to democracy was a tortuous one that claimed lives and limbs of many a patriot and it is incumbent upon us as beneficiaries of their sacrifices to ensure that we advance the course of democracy through transparent elections and making our governmental institutions work for the people.
â€œEven as we celebrate, my fellow patriots, let us spare some time to reflect and to mourn all those murdered in the on-going needless killings across our dear country.
Dogara Cautions Leaders against Truncation of Nascent Democracy
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday cautioned the political leadership to refrain from actions that could truncate the current democracy which he described as â€œstill very fragileâ€, despite 19 years of the return to civilian rule.
Speaking in Abuja at the 2018 Democracy Day lecture, the speaker cautioned that all over the world, democracies nowadays hardly die at the hands of people with guns but in the hands of civilians leaders who have dubious allegiance to democratic norms and values.
He noted that elections have sometimes produced enemies of democracy and urged the citizens to be eternally vigilant in order to protect and defend our hard-earned democracy.
The Speaker argued that there is every reason for Nigerians to celebrate almost two decades of civilian rule because the beauty of democracy is that it gives hope for a better future to the people and that history show that the rich and powerful have always interchanged places with the poor and vulnerable.
Ekweremadu Tasks Leaders on Preservation of Democracy
The Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has harped on the need to preserve the fundamental ingredients of the nationâ€™s democracy.
He made the call in a goodwill message to Nigerians on the occasion of the 2018 Democracy Day.
Citing several countries, which built world-class infrastructure, prosperous economy, and maintained high Human Development Index under autocratic regimes, Ekweremadu said the real blessings of democracy were the intangibles such as rule of law, fundamental human rights, liberties, checks and balances, justice, and unity, among others.
He said: â€œThe core blessings of democracy are liberties, human rights, rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, independent electoral umpire, independent judiciary, independent legislature, which all combine to deliver good governance.â€
EU, UK, US, Others Task Politicians on Sustenance of Democracy
As Nigeria celebrate 19 years of uninterrupted democratic rule, the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA) and 19 other countries have charged Nigerians, particularly politicians, to do everything possible to preserve the current democratic form of government in the country.
The charge was contained in a goodwill message yesterday.
In a joint statement signed by the 22 countries and made available to journalists, they specifically urged the executive and legislature to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring that the 2019 general election is free, fair and credible.
â€œThe struggle to achieve democracy gives it a special value and places responsibility on all of us to support the democratic process.Â Â We congratulate Nigeria on its progress since 1999, including the first peaceful transition of power from a ruling party to an opposition party in 2015.Â Â As we celebrate your progress, we encourage and support Nigeria and its people to consolidate and deepen democracy as the country heads towards important elections next year.
â€œWho will win the general election in 2019 is a decision for the Nigerian people. Our concern as partners of Nigeria is to see a process that is free, fair and inclusive. We are particularly keen to see greater participation in politics from under-represented groups, including women, young people and people with disabilities.
The signatories include the European Union, Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada and Czech Republic.
Others are Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
CAN, Catholic Bishops Say All Tiers of Govts Have Failed on All Fronts
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday said despite the high hopes Nigerians had on democracy, the three tiers of governments made up of federal, state and local governments have all failed in all fronts since 1999 when the country returned to democracy.
CAN President, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, stated this to mark Democracy Day, saying: â€œCAN rejoices with Nigeria that since 29 May, 1999, Nigerians have been enjoying an uninterrupted democratic system which is the longest period since when the country attained independence.
â€œThe association regrets that the three tiers of government have failed in all fronts; social, economic and political and the unprecedented killings in the land, hardship, poor state of infrastructures and reports of suicide in the country are too obvious to be ignored.
â€œCAN therefore identifies with families that are still mourning as a result of the incessant attacks from the criminal Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, ritual killers and armed robbers who are on the loose as we pray to God to console and comfort all the bereaved and we also pray for our leaders and all the security agencies to wake up from their slumber to their responsibilities before the situation gets out of hand.
Also speaking with THISDAY, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Archbishop of Benin, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, explained that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari had failed completely.
Akubeze stressed the incessant cases of herdsmen killings in the country and government inability to stop such killings clearly portray the failings of the government.
NLC: 18 Years After Return of Democracy, Dark Memories of Military Rule Still Fresh
As Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday said 18 years after the return of democracy, dark memories of military are still fresh even within the current dispensation.
Speaking on the precarious situation Nigeria has found herself 18 years after the return of democracy, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that the present happenings are a big disappointment to the citizens.
He said: â€œMay 29 reminds all of us that we are on a democratic journey. It also affords us the space to review how far and how well this journey has progressed. For Nigerian workers, democracy day reminds us of our commitment to building a just society.
â€œThe truth is that 18 years of democracy has come with very sparse rewards for the Nigerian people. While we celebrate democracyâ€™s irreplaceable gift of freedom, liberty and popular representation, the truth remains that this democracy has served the political class and not the average Nigerian.
â€œUnfortunately, those we elected to serve as democratic leaders have not only turned around to serve themselves but continue to exploit every given opportunity to turn the rest of us into paupers in our own land.
â€œFor us, the dark memories of military rule are still fresh and we pledge not to stand by as some elements seek to imperil this democracy by their acts of greed, insane desperation for power, petty proclivities and inanities.
â€œBeside the frequent unlawful dipping of fingers into the public till, everything including salaries, pensions, Â perquisites, ways and means are skewed in their favour to the exclusion of workers.â€
ADP, Labour Party Slam Buhari over Bad Economy, Human Rights Abuses
As Nigeria marks its democracy day, political parties and politicians have given their assessment of the state of affairs in the country.
The Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Labour Party (LP) have scored the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration low on the management of the economy and upholding of rule of law.
The National Chairman of ADP, Sani Yagbagi, who spoke in an interview with journalists in Abuja yesterday, described democratic practice in Nigeria as a tragedy in the sense that the leaders have failed to play by the rules or deliver on promises.
The party said aside from the opportunity it offered for freedom of choice and end to military rule, theÂ Â democratic experience has been very turbulent.
On how he would describe the last three years of the APC-led administration, Yagbagi said: â€œI think what has happened to Nigeria is a tragedy. Three years of APC is a tragedy because theÂ Â government should have hit the ground running.
On his part, the LP National Chairman, Abdulsalam Abdulkadir, said the country has witnessed abuses of human rights and disrespect to rule of law.
He also lamented what it described as growing poverty and suffering in the country.