Former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki has said that Nigeria’s democracy had not given birth to good governance even after practicing the system for 22 unbroken years in the country.
In a statement he released on this year’s Democracy Day celebration, Mr Saraki said democracy is not just the absence of military rule or the routine conduct of elections after which some individuals are announced to have been elected.
According to him, the real end product of democracy should be good governance.
Mr Saraki said: “There is no doubt that democracy is the best system in evolving a modern government and it remains the most acceptable globally. However, the celebration today should also help us to raise the question of whether democracy is working to serve the interest of Nigerians.
“After all, it is known widely that democracy is not just the absence of military rule or the routine conduct of elections after which some individuals are announced to have been elected. The real end product of democracy should be good governance.”
The former senate president said that it was obvious that in Nigeria, democracy had not given birth to good governance.
However, he said, “We have inadvertently operated a democracy, which instead of being the government of the people is rather creating a distance between the people and what should be their government.
“Elections should be for the purpose of allowing free choice between competing ideologies, manifestos, policies, and programmes.
“Elections should not just be about putting people in office and when they get there, they start groping in the dark or thinking about what to do and where to start from.
“This approach has set us back for many years and deprived our people the opportunity to enjoy good governance or earn what in the national cliché is known as ‘Dividend of Democracy.”
He added, “Today, our country faces security challenges and the government is not able to adequately protect the citizenry.
“There is massive unemployment which has impoverished a high percentage of the population and many citizens are questioning the basis for the unity of the country. These are pointers to the question of whether democracy is actually working in our clime.”
However, he said, since Nigerians have accepted that the best form of government is democracy, “we have no option than to make the system work for our country and her people. Thus, I appeal to all stakeholders to give peace a chance. This is because nothing can be achieved in the absence of peace.
“The quest for peace places a burden on all of us who are leaders, both those in and out of government, to effectively shoulder our responsibilities to our country.
“We have two years to the formation of a new government. That should mean two years for us to have brilliant ideas on issues of security, education, health, youth employment, revolutionising agriculture, human capital development, improving capacity for delivering good governance to the populace and fostering unity among the people.
“It should be time for considering how to entrench discipline, equity, justice, respect for the law and accountability as part of our national ethos.
“We must start to think. We must pre-occupy ourselves with how to make democracy survive and how we can use it to better the lives of our people. I believe this is the best way to ensure we continue to celebrate democracy for many more years.”