Democracy has come to stay in Nigeria, says Mohammed


Dr Junaid Mohammed
Dr Junaid Mohammed
Second Republic Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Dr Junaid Mohammed has expressed confidence that Nigeria democracy has come to stay and could no longer be threatened by military coups, having successfully survived 17 unbroken years.
Mohammed, a member of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and also the convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians said, “Nobody can derail the country’s democracy again.”
The Kano based politician and member of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) also noted that as things stand in Nigeria today “democratic rule has come to stay.”
Mohammed, while speaking exclusively with The Guardian recently, however warned that Nigerians must, as a people, exercise some restrain in the way they respond to some critical issues concerning the country, saying that it was imperative of them to first show appreciation and congratulate themselves for having 17 uninterrupted years of democracy.
According to him, “What I am saying is confirmed by both history and political science. The American political scientist and philosopher, Professor Samuel Huntington said the longer a nation’s democracy is, the more the chances it will continue. That is why in matured democracies you don’t talk about the possibility of coups like in the United States of America, Britain and most European countries. There are also other countries, which have seen democracy on a continuous basis. In fact the cut-off point for any democracy to be sustained, according to Professor Huntington, is 16 years and we have reached that landmark last year.
Education is very important and it is the most important investment a nation can do for its citizenry. We are in a situation whereby substantial numbers of children, from 10 – 15 per cent, in Nigeria are not attending school. Where they even go to school, most of them do not complete primary school and when they finish primary school some of them don’t get to do secondary school. I strongly believe that the 12 years of minimum education must be pursued.
“So the chances of us derailing to a non-democratic state again are now very remote. We are likely going to remain a democratic nation. It is just that at some point, certain perspectives are going to be erased while others will remain with us but then that is the working of democracy.”
On whether Nigeria could experience coup de tact again, the Second Republic lawmaker urged those entrusted with governance in the country to guard against “complacency as they strive to discharge their responsibilities to the citizenry.”
According to him: “Nigerians have been making serious mistakes about the viability of our democracy and it is so unfortunate that we are tying it to what they usually referred to as democratic dividends, thus giving the impression that democracy is meant to make people rich. To me that is not the essence of democracy. The essence of democracy is ability to conduct credible elections. Once you have credible election you are a democratic country.”
Mohammed noted that there are other ancillary considerations, which are used to assess a nation’s democratic development. “There is the issue of civil rights, protection of fundamental human rights and adherence to principles, which are of course part of international law starting from the charter of the United Nations and others, which are part of the African Union charter on human and peoples rights and others in terms of protection against poverty, child especially the girl child, in terms of commitment to eliminate extreme forms of poverty, which we did in the last 16 years under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are all part and parcel of democratic governance but these themselves does not constitute democracy.”
Insisting that a nation’s ability to conduct credible and acceptable election was one of the bedrock of good democracy, Mohammed said, “Once a nation could hold credible elections, it must be seen and it must be adjudged to be a democratic country.
“To make progress may be tough in the beginning because Nigeria is still very much hamstrung by poverty but that depends on what benchmark you are using because over 70 to 90 per cent of Nigerians are still living in poverty. The level of inequality among Nigerians is very high; it is therefore difficult to reconcile this fact considering the vast resources at our disposal.
“Nigerians must strive to make sure that people who are going to exercise their democratic rights in a credible election are also the kind of people who are going to make decision in a credible judgment because the poor man has very little choice, an illiterate doesn’t have much of a choice.”
The former minority leader also emphasized on the importance of education to the sustainability of our democracy. According to him, “Education is very important and it is the most important investment a nation can do for its citizenry. We are in a situation whereby substantial numbers of children, from 10 – 15 per cent, in Nigeria are not attending school. Where they even go to school, most of them do not complete primary school and when they finish primary school some of them don’t get to do secondary school. I strongly believe that the 12 years of minimum education must be pursued.
“I also believe that a democratic government of whatever type must be able to maintain security in the country so that Nigerians can live and work wherever they chose to live without hindrance.”
He said on the whole Nigeria’s democracy would take some time to heal because of the internal complexity of the country itself. According to him, “It is not enough to just hold elections and say we are a democracy. Democratic governance is not a badge of honour. People must buy into it and be prepared to defend it, sometimes with their blood if necessary. But a situation where the political class, like the current members of the National Assembly and some of the governors are behaving as if democracy is a personal affair because they are in office, portrays danger.”
He said the legislature and the executive must put heads together to ensure good governance in the polity but frowned at members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who have been crying foul over on-going effort of President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration to bring to book those that allegedly indulged in corrupt practices over the years.
Said he: “The idea of the National Assembly taking a personal quarrel against the President, to me, is really unfortunate. I sincerely hope the President will take certain steps together with the ruling party not to allow or give room for any altercation between them and National Assembly. And when a nation moves from one elite group, one group of a political system to another there is always room for altercation of this nature. It is clear in the case of the PDP, they have refused to accept that they are no more in power and they are doing whatever they can to undermine the government. That is very dangerous.
“As far as I am concerned, the PDP has lost the election and they should maintain their peace and look forward to the next election. It is also important that we realise that whether we are in a democracy or not, rule of law is very important. That is if you commit atrocity while in government you can be called to order and our own constitution and law makes adequate provisions for that.
“Nobody can tell us that because he is out of government that is why he is being persecuted. That is sheer nonsense because you cannot say because I was in government I committed an offence and that because the party I belong to is no more in power that was why I am being persecuted. A crime is a crime and in the process of dealing with criminals in government, the law is no respecter of persons or political affiliations. As far as I am concerned, if those who committed grievous offences in the past 16 years and they chose to steal our own patrimony, they should be dealt with. Because being in a democracy does not confer any special right on anybody to commit atrocity to undermine us economically.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HOW TO REGISTER FOR SAFETOKEN

How To Get Help In MMM Nigeria - Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox