Confidence Building Measures Will Sustain Nigeria’s Democracy – Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that if democracy must endure, the democratic process must be developed in a way that people will have confidence in the electoral process.
This is as Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the problems of Nigeria are self-inflicted as they flow from politicization of everything and the promotion of pervasive injustice.
The Former President Spoke at a Lecture/Book Presentation to mark the Second Term Inauguration of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in Port Harcourt on Monday.
Jonathan stated that despite the challenges, the country must embrace electronic voting. He said that Electronic voting is the ultimate going forward.
He noted that the African Continent must come up with a minimum standards for the establishment of the Election Management Body. Jonathan said for the purpose of confidence building for credible elections, no one single person should have the power to constitute the Election Management Body.
He said: “We must come up with new standards for constituting our election management body in a way that people will have confidence. I believe in some Quarters what they do is that a body of people constitute the Election Management Body. It is not in the hands of one person.
“When you leave such responsibility in the hands of a politician, no matter how good the person is, there will be the tendency for people to suspect that the right thing is not done. When people don’t have confidence in the system, whatever they do, it is difficult for the people to accept “.
He added: “The continental body , African Union , should come up with a minimum standard across Africa for constituting Electoral Management Body “.
He added that no single official should have the power to appoint all the Election Petition Tribunals as this erodes confidence in the system.
“Also, the Judicial Process where one person constitutes all the election Tribunals to hear petitions is not right. It is difficult in a democracy for somebody to be extremely neutral. In one way or the other, somebody close to you will be in one party or the other. The only way to be above is to make sure that one person does not have all the powers to constitute tribunals to listen to all cases”, he said.
The Former Nigerian President called for the enthronement of independent security agencies that will provide security during elections. He decried the online video in Rivers State where women were dragging soldiers attempting to compromise Rivers elections.
“The African Union must come up with a code of conduct for security operatives that participate in elections. What happened in Rivers State, in a video being circulated where women were dragging soldiers down from walls was a very sorry sight. When these things are being discussed outside the country, if you are a Nigerian, you feel so ashamed “.
The Former President called on Parliamentarians to work towards modifying National Laws to ensure that what happened in 2019 is not repeated in 2023.
He congratulated the people of Rivers State for their total support of Governor Wike during the elections.
The Former President said that the Rivers election was a star election in 2019, as it was used to assess the elections.
“Governor Wike stood firmly. He was courageous. He was a good leader. I urge you to continue with your good works.
“If you did not impress Rivers people, you wouldn’t have received support. Wike tried. He brought unity and physical development to the state”, Jonathan said.
In his address, Governor Wike decried the level of politicisation of the governance process of the country.
He said: “Although I lack the intellectual impetus to join issues with the learned Professor, but for me, Nigeria’s problems, which are largely self-inflicted, can be reduced to two: the politicization of everything and pervasive injustice.
“Over the years, we have allowed the entire governing system to be been corrupted by banal politics and the courage to do what is right and fair to all parts of the country had since departed.
“As a result, we are increasingly become insensitive or rather impervious to the injustices and the horrific happenings in our country that have reduced our humanity”.
Governor Wike said that insecurity continues to thrive in the country because the nation has refused to listen to the cries for Justice.
He said: “In our case, everyone is crying out for justice and because we’ve as a nation blocked our ears and hearts to the deafening cries for justice, peace has become a rare commodity in our country. a rare commodity.
“My take is that we are going nowhere as a country; we will continue to run round in circles and possibly crash-land in a very hard way unless we change our narratives about justice because peace or peaceful co-existence cannot be decreed in a multi-cultural society such as ours, or in any society at all. It is only a real sense of justice that can command and guarantee enduring peace, patriotism and solidarity in Nigeria”.
The Governor said that he was persuaded to approve the writing of the book because books document and educate people for the development of the society.
He said: ” The essence of this book as captured by the short side of the title: Excellence in Governance, is truly captivating. I think, “excellence” as opposed to “perfection” in governance is attainable if leaders care about how posterity would judge them after office.
“However, since excellence in governance is not a term of art , how can it be measured in relation to the burden of leadership? Is it by simply making comparisons between governments, past and present? Or by how and to what positive extent the government of the day responded to the public issues, challenges and opportunities of the time?”
Governor Wike lauded the quality of discourse in the book, which he said promotes good governance without any form of sycophancy.
He said: “I have been managing people and resources as Governor of Rivers State for four years and it is only proper for stakeholders to start to dispassionately interrogate our performance in office, the quality of our leadership and the extent to which we have delivered public services from different perspectives.
“This book is therefore, a pioneering effort in this regard from the socio-legal perspective, which I consider very uplifting because it is not about self-serving opportunistic claims to the high moral ground nor the product of sycophantic image laundry and patronage.
” Against this background, I have no hesitation in identifying wholly with this book and commend both the editors and the contributors for their highly informative and logical arguments that elevated the legal discourse round the contemporary relationship between law, leadership and creativity in governance”.
Guest Lecturer, Professor Anya O. Anya in a paper titled: “Re-imagining Nigeria: The Imperative of Democracy, values, peace and National Development in the New Nigeria ” said Nigeria is a country under siege and its people and leaders are in denial.
He said: “We are at a stage where most nations are in dynamic state; where change is the order of the day. The rules of linear progression in social and economic evolution have given way to a situation where interactive forces act as interconnected matrices”.
Anya said ultimately the forces of peace will prevail despite the insecurity in different parts of the country.
He said God will manifest in the end on behalf of Nigerians and stop the high level of insecurity. He urged Governor Wike to continue to work for the peace of Rivers State and Nigeria.
Book Reviewer, Prof M. T. Ladan recommended the book to all students of law and politics, because it captures the need for the development of Nigeria by examining the outstanding qualities of Governor Wike.
He said the book was written by 51 authors with 40 chapters and 735 pages. He said the lawyers who wrote the book documented the delivery of democracy dividends in Rivers State.
Book Presenter and Representative of Sokoto State Governor, Engr Bello Alhaji Suleiman described Governor Wike as a true leader who will play a key role in the future of the country.
He said Governor Wike has written his name in the sands of time by his superlative performance as chronicled in the book.
Chairman of Inauguration Committee and Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara said that the event is part of the programme to herald