While speaking at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series which held in Lagos on Saturday, July 13, 2019, Ezekwesili said Nigeria’s democratic process over the past 20 years has only delivered a denigration and devaluation of the Nigerian life.
The event, themed ‘Rethinking credible elections, accountable democracy and good governance in Nigeria’, was in commemoration of the 85th birthday of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
While delivering her keynote speech, Ezekwesili said the devaluation of Nigeria’s democracy has resulted in a complete lack of dignity for the human life as currently witnessed in the country with ever-present insecurity.
The former presidential candidate said this devaluation must be interrogated so as to save Nigeria’s democracy from a blemish that’s hurting the general populace.
“Our current democracy is blemished because of its inadequacy to deliver the desirable outcome for citizens. If citizens do not feel the sense of improvement, that must be corrected,” she said.
Ezekwesili raised alarm over Nigeria’s democratic process which she said has been degraded by the political class.
Describing elections as the cornerstone of democracy, she said elections in Nigeria are devoid of inclusivity, transparency, accountability and competitiveness that are non-negotiable features of credible elections.
Ezekwesili stressed that a nation must effectively be able to adhere to the principles of credible elections, accountable democracy and good governance for it to thrive, something she noted Nigeria has lacked for ages.
To address the problem, she proffered three solutions, starting with the activation of the office of the citizen which she described as more powerful than that of the president.
“The office of the citizen is the office that gives legitimacy to all other political offices in the land, and so it’s the highest office in the land.
“The office of the president is the highest political office subordinated to the office of the citizen.
“And until the citizens understand this, then our democracy will be government of the politicians, by the politicians, for the politicians. That is wrong,” she said.
She further lamented that Nigerians have abandoned politics to politicians, leaving political parties to become vehicles for political transactions at the detriment of the people.
“Political parties, properly so-called, are supposed to be the vehicles that embody the spirit, content, message, vision, nuances, ethos, principles and vision of governance.
“Every political party is supposed to be regarded as a government in waiting.
“What ideology do we have in the realm of political party development in our society? Next to zero,” she said.
She also noted that the quality of political actors must be improved so as to correct the distortions in the nation’s political system and achieve great governance outcome.
Ezekwesili appealed to Nigerians that democracy is worth fighting for as it’s been observed that, if practiced faithfully, it has a strong correlation with economic growth, development and improvement in the quality of life of citizens.
“Until the citizens realise that there’ll be no possibility of improvement in their economic well-being and there’ll be no improvement in their safety and security without good governance, and that good governance will not be possible without democratic accountability, and that you’ll not get democratic accountability if you do not have credible elections leading to the election of people who understand all of these concepts, then it’s gonna be a long time waiting.”
Ezekwesili further pleaded that Nigerians should desist from putting too much work on Soyinka because he’s sacrificed enough for the country.
She said he should serve instead as an emblem to inspire other Nigerians to become unique citizens who’ll not sit by while abuse of political power continues.