**** Says Nigeria’s democracy still shaky, tottering like toddler learning to walk
***Hails ex-president Jonathan’s selflessness, love for Nigeria
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has said that a united Nigeria will thrive where there is political stability and social security for the people.
The governor said this on Friday in Abuja while delivering his goodwill message at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation’s Policy Dialogue on the theme: “Democracy and Unity of State” held at the Transcorp Hilton.
He also said that politics and leadership in the country must transform into a service that ensures the quality of life is high despite social status while essential goods and services are affordable for the masses.
Speaking on the theme of the dialogue, the governor emphasised the necessity of a united state for democracy thrive, saying the focus of Nigerians should be more on how to make democracy work as a united entity rather divisive nation.
He said “Unity is the primary hypothesis on which democracy stands in any state which has chosen it as the form of government. This is because in a functional democracy, the people, in spite of their diversity in ideology, faith, tribe and politics, have to always unite in a majority for most things to happen in the society, including leadership.”
He however expressed worries that Nigeria’s democracy still remains “shaky and tottering along like a toddler still learning to walk”, 22 years into the country’s 4th Republic.
“Consequently, we hardly speak with a united voice on anything as a nation. This state of affairs makes me believe that we need more democracy, not less. Of course, by ‘more democracy’ I mean the real essence and practice of democracy, that pure marriage of consensus which enthrones the overall public good rather than any sectional or parochial interest.
“With the foregoing in mind, I say that how to make Nigerian Democracy work for us as a uniting factor rather than the divisive measure we have turned it into is the most pressing need of the season, especially as gladiators begin to take position for 2023.
“Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I declare that ‘One Nigeria’ must quickly come to mean more than it currently does to the average citizen or we risk losing more than we bargained for – as leaders and those being led”, he said
He pointed out that his concept of a united Nigeria is not one where everyone is held down by force or fear, but a nation which guarantees all citizens security, unity and peace.
“It must be equitable and allow everyone to thrive on his own merits. Tribe, religion and class must not be used to discriminate against or marginalise anyone and civics must encourage cooperation and integration as a cardinal tenet of citizenship. We have to start substituting place of residence for state of origin and finding ways to immediately and brutally punish corruption in private and public spheres.
“Our politics and leadership must transform into a service that ensures the quality of life is high despite social status while essential goods and services are affordable.
“Our local job markets must deliver jobs to people at their levels of learning, skills and experience. The nation must have economic stability and be a family-friendly place where parents can raise the next generation well.
“We will require income equality, especially across the genders. A united Nigeria will thrive on political stability and social security. It also goes without saying that the quality of the public education system and that of the public health system must be high. Both must deliver free to affordable services. It is only then that people will belong because they want to, not because they must”, he said.
He said his leadership in Kogi State has been to achieving such ideals since he took the reigns of power in the state.
“Kogi is the emerging paradigm for cooperation and integration as a basis for citizens’ co-existence instead of the previous divide and rule tactics with which failed politicians harmed citizens in our past.
“It is a paradigm we hope to expand and export to the larger Nigerian society as we march into the future while building an increasingly peaceful and prosperous Nigerian society. Nigeria is the trigger of Africa and if Africa must free herself from neocolonialism, Nigeria must stand up and take her place of leadership in the continent”, he said.
The governor on the occasion, extolled the leadership qualities of former President Goodluck Jonathan, describing him as an “international Statesman Extraordinaire”.
He said in 2015, the former president “demonstrated in very historic terms that he is a democrat indeed and a patriot par excellence. Where lesser men and less honourable men would have tried to subvert the apparent will of the people in that year’s General Elections, His Excellency as the President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of her Armed Forces took the path of personal honour and national interest. Nigeria, and indeed the world, will always celebrate this wonderful man for that singular feat of selflessness and love for nation.”