Obaseki Calls For Methods To Transform Democracy

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Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called for the adoption of proven methods and innovations in retooling politics and democracy for a better delivery of good governance and development.

Obaseki made the call at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs(NIIA) Distinguished Lecture Series titled: “Making Politics Work for Citizens, Governance and Development: The Edo State Experience,” on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to him, the county is adrift and it is time to take the tough decisions to rescue it from the brink.

The governor said although politics and democracy had not dealt favourbly with Nigeria, but the existence of the potential for democracy to be the vehicle for development could not be denied.

“In Edo, we had to take deliberate and intentioned steps to retool our politics to engender development.

“This has led to the introduction of people-centric policies and programs which have won our administration significant public trust,” he said.

He said a functioning democracy should not only provide basic social and economic goods including roads, portable water and improved education, but also provide the right of groups and individuals to hold their governments accountable.

This, Obaseki said will help states improve on their ability to get things done and be responsive to citizens’ rights and needs.

He added that democracy, be it liberal, African or modern must include equal opportunity for all, majority rule and the protection of minority rights.

The governor further said that as the nation commenced another political transition, there must be a reflection on the challenges faced.

According to him, this will lead to a better understanding of why the democratic experience till date has not provided good governance and why economic and social-political development have remained stunted.

“Good governance reduces poverty by empowering citizens to realise their rights and address the issue of gender equality, discrimination and social inclusion.

“However, in Nigeria, these have not been adequately provided. The people have had to contend with a poverty rate if 47.3 percent representing 98 million Nigerians.

“Our political system is not designed to attract selfless service, rather, it mostly caters for actors with resources most of which was not legally earned. It is time to set sentiments aside,” Obaseki said.

He stated that having built public trust, his state had to open up the business environment which led to robust partnership with the private sector and international development organisations.

The governor said Edo places people at the centre of politics, which according to him led to huge investment in human capital development particularly across all tiers of the education system.

“We have demonstrated in Edo that the political firmament can be altered for the benefit of majority of its citizens. We reversed the political norm in Nigeria.

“Insistence on good governance has helped us build public trust and by rebuilding the culture of accountability, we have reduced the level of resistance to our reform agenda.

“If what happened in Edo can be replicated in the forthcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections, Nigeria would have taken a critical step to democratic consolidation,” Obaseki said.

Former Director-General, NIIA, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, tasked other state governments to learn from the methods of Edo, adding that to achieve a constructive solution to democratic challenges, “we must learn from the experiences of each other.” (NAN)

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