Nigerian Electorate Must Rise Against Bad Leadership
- Says Participants at Good Governance Lecture; Charge INEC On Credible Elections
- As Okogie, Utomi accuse the political class of violating the rights of Nigerians
“Disorganized, ignorant and naïve majority being manipulated by the organized, elite and devious minority.”
There is the need for the electorate to rise up and unite with the view of electing credible leaders that would steer the ship of the nation along peaceful tides.
This was part of the submission of participants at the maiden public lecture on Good Governance organized recently by the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, and held at St Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja.
From the Lead Speaker, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, to the Discussants which included Prof Pat Utomi, Ms Ngozi Iwere, Comrade Adelaja Odutola, amongst others, there was a general consensus on the need for the electorate to also hold their leaders accountable and demand for better quality of life in line with the true tenets of democracy.
By simple definition, democracy puts power in the hands of the electorate. Unfortunately, in an environment of crass ignorance and poverty like Nigeria, the few elite have stolen that power. They manipulate the institutions and put the masses in perpetual misery and consistent regret.
For Prof Pat Utomi, there is something wrong with our democracy. He believes Nigerians have lost confidence in the electoral process due to the inability of INEC to effectively create a level playing ground for all aspirants. He, like other speakers was of the strong opinion that the general elections starting on Saturday, February 16, offer a good opportunity for the electorate to make good use of their PVC’s to send a strong message to the political class that power truly lies with the people.
Similarly, the emeritus Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, used the occasion to lambast the country’s past and present leadership of not doing enough in creating an enabling environment for the electoral process to function seamlessly. In his paper titled ‘A Disabled Electorate’, he was of the strong view that the electoral act has for long been skewed to favour politicians, while rendering the electorate powerless and disabled.
He called for better quality electoral laws that will protect the interest of Nigerians, and that would ensure that the wishes of the electorate are respected and adhered to, irrespective of the outcome.
“Nigerians have a right to an electoral process whose sanctity is inviolate. But this right has been repeatedly violated. It was violated during the rigged elections of the First Republic. It was violated by military rule. It was violated during the Second Republic. It is still been violated despite our democratic profession and pretension.”
Setting the pace for the discourse with the theme, ‘Power of the electorate in a democracy: Nigeria as a case study,” the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins had earlier in his welcome address, pointed out that the nation’s economy as it stands, cannot sustain any kind of meaningful growth that promotes the social welfare of the people.
“While Nigerians diminish socially and economically, the privileged political class continues to flourish in obscene splendour as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will. The continuous rapacity and rape of our commonwealth by those in power across the country and at all levels of governance has led to the destruction of social infrastructure relevant to a meaningful and acceptance level of social existence for our people.”
For the country to move away from the current decay to a new lease of life, the prelate reiterated his earlier challenge to the electorate to vote their conscience by electing into governance intelligent, visionary, principled, patriotic, proficient and God fearing men and women at the polls.
The political class were also not left out. Mr Jimmy Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party and Mr Gbolahan Gbadamosi of the Action Democratic Party were on ground to parley with the participants and speak of their programmes for the good people of Lagos State.
Participants at the event cut across priests, religious, lay faithful, the Civil Society and politicians. Some of the clergy who graced the occasion include Msgr John Aniagwu who represented the Archbishop; Msgr Bernard Okodua; Msgr Livinus Ukah, Very Rev Patrick Obayomi; Archbishop George Amu, amongst others. Rev Fr Marcellinus Rebecca Igirigi, cmf, from the Lagos Communication House of the Claretian Missionaries, West Nigeria Delegation, led the opening prayers at the event. Various groups in the Archdiocese also came out in their numbers to be part of the historic event.
In all, participants were quick to commend the Catholic Church for coming out with such an initiative, pointing out that more still needed to be done in organizing such programmes geared at promoting civil engagement.