Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI) and keynote speaker at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series, held on Saturday, 13 July 2019 at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, have faulted Nigeria’s democracy and called for rethink of it.
Speaking at the lecture held in commemoration of the 85th birthday of Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature and Grand Patron of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Ezekwesili said, “Our democracy has unfortunately been reduced to a booty venture and that merits a rethink.”
“Nobody cares who you like in a democracy. The culture of democracy is that we citizens must have the voice. That is why voice is an important part of accountability and important part of good governance. We must have the voice to speak to what our demands are on government so formed,” she said.
“Good governance is demonstrated in the security and safety of life of citizens. Citizens have to be alive in order to enjoy the benefits of governance. That is not our story. Only yesterday or maybe two days ago, we do know that analytical information, data that was picked up over a period of time, said that in 2018, we may have actually lost about 3000 of our fellow citizens in needless killings in our country without any consequence to those that killed them.”
“Any country that is assessed with regard to good governance in terms of output and outcome, would be a country that assures through sound policies a given level of standard of improvement and standard of living; in other words, the quality of life of citizens. In measuring quality of life, we normally would look at the economy, human capital development, physical infrastructure and then the social capital within that society. All scores, our country does badly.”
The former Minister for Solid Minerals also called on Nigerians to rethink their democracy. According to her, “To the extent that the sanctity of the Nigerian life is now under significant threat because of the failure of the government to uphold that sanctity, means that we must all rise to demand a complete rethink of the kind of democratic processes that lead to poor governance. If our democratic practices over a period of 20 years has only but delivered a denigration and devaluation of Nigerian life, then it must be scrutinised; it must be interrogated, and it calls necessarily for a broad conversation.”
She asserted that citizens have to understand how important their role is in a democracy; political parties must be the vehicle that embodies the spirit, the content, the message, the nuances, the principle, the ethos and the vision of governance; and there must be quality of political actors for the Nigerian democracy to work.