The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has saluted promoters of democracy across the world for defending a system of government that allows people to forge their destinies through popular participation in governance.
Obaseki who said this on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, celebrated on September 15, each year, noted that “democracy has proven effective in aggregating the needs and developmental aspirations of the people as well as in allocating resources to all segments of the electorates.”
The governor advised political actors and leaders to “use the international day of democracy to reflect on how much impact we have made in the lives of the people that voted us into power.”
He added: “Our policies and programmes must be designed to address the developmental challenges facing the electorates and the ideals of democracy such as the rule of law, political freedom and tolerance of dissenting views and opinions as well as legal equality must be upheld.”
Obaseki argued that “the major task before democratic leaders is to put aside issues that are extraneous to development and focus on human upliftment and progress, more so in developing countries.”
He maintained that this year’s theme – “Democracy under Strain; Solutions for a Changing World” dovetails with his administration’s conviction that more women and young people must be given more roles to play in governance.
“We are resolute about mainstreaming women’s issues in governance and we firmly believe that we cannot continue to undermine women and the youths in our policy design, considering the fact that participation in governance is strictly a matter of human right and with the growing population of women and the youths, we run a great risk if we do not allow them their space.”
The governor said: “We currently have 18 female senior special assistants and a special adviser on gender issues in Edo State, in addition to the other female appointees on my cabinet. I made these appointments to bring women’s issues to the table. We created EdoJobs to address the issues of unemployment and unemployability and so far, the outcomes have been impressive.”
He stressed that his administration is committed to progressive ideas to keep pace with emerging issues in democratic governance and assured that no segment of Edo people and residents will be left behind in the delivery of the dividends of democracy.
According to the United Nations “This year’s International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers to the systemic challenges it faces.
“This includes tackling economic and political inequalities, making democracies more inclusive by bringing the young and marginalised into the political system, and making democracies more innovative and responsive to emerging challenges such as migration and climate change.”
The organisation said that with this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that ‘the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’ (article 21.3), has inspired constitution-making around the world and contributed to global acceptance of democratic values and principles. Democracy, in turn, provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizing the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions,” the global body added.