NOA, CSOs seek citizens’ input in governance
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have advocated the need for Nigeria to ensure good governance, strong anti-corruption crusade and free, fair and credible elections as solutions to the problems facing the country.
While NOA and the groups promised to ensure strong collaborations on the three critical issues as the country moves closer to 2019 general elections, they also said the coming Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections slated for July 14 and September 22, 2018 respectively, could be used as case studies to determine major areas of corrections, amendments and education ahead of the major poll.
Speaking during a roundtable meeting on ‘Good Governance, Anti-Corruption and Election Matters,’ organised by the agency in Lagos yesterday, the Director-General of NOA, Garba Abari said if the three issues could be put in the right perspective among Nigerians, the country would witness the necessary change and transformation that would ultimately transform into growth and development.
Although, Abari noted that the country is witnessing serious crises in every sector, which has continued to make some people express fear it may disintegrate, he dismissed such perception, saying, “Nigeria is not going to break. We are too big to split, what is needed is to get the right thing done and every other things would fall in line.”
While he lamented that experience has shown that most Nigerians engage governments both present and past from ignorant point of perception, Abari said the purpose of the agency’s collaboration with civil society bodies and other critical stakeholders was to ensure mass orientation of the citizens so that they will not continue to disagree with the government on point of ignorance.
Taking the issue of good governance, the NOA boss agreed that most of the challenges facing the country were as a result of bad governance, particularly in the northern region where he comes from.Said he, “Nigeria needs to do much in the area of good governance but this aspect cannot be left for those in government alone. The citizens of the country have to take up the challenge by means of active participation in electoral process and voting.”
He noted that this is where the issue of massive education and orientation comes in to educate Nigerians on reasons they must show interest in the characters that rule them or come to seek for their votes during elections.Abari said the failure of governance over the years has been responsible for the increase in crimes and other major setbacks the country is currently experiencing “but in all, there are still hopes if the right thing is done.”
In her contribution, Chairperson of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Mrs. Abiola Akiode said it was obvious that the challenges facing Nigeria are huge but it is a matter of must for the people to find solutions to them else “we do not have any other nation to run to.”She hammered on voters’ apathy, which she said has been the free check politicians have been using to misbehave.
According to her, “It was lamentable that the present system allows for serious and unchecked impunity but nothing can be done to tame it if the citizens who feel the brunt of bad leadership and governance stayed back and don’t participate fully in the process that determines their leaders or at worst, sell the votes for peanuts during elections.”
On this note, she challenged the civil society groups as well as religious and traditional institutions to wake up to the responsibilities as another election is fast approaching, saying, “The various institutions have not really done much to assist in building strong electoral values in the people.”
Akiode further expressed discomfort about the unhealthy rivalry among the anti-corruption bodies in the country. This she said is not helping the crusade and government needed to act fast.
In his contribution, Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Richard Akinola said the Muhammadu Buhari administration needed to inject fresh confidence in Nigerians on the anti-corruption war as it were now.He posited that the perception of the masses was that government has only been using the anti-graft war to fight its perceived enemies and opponents whereas it is surrounded by corrupt people.
He said one of the banes of Nigeria’s development was that not more than 15 million people decide in an election for estimated 200 million Nigerians “how can we get it right? It is time we erase that mentality from Nigerians that whosoever is seeking for elective position is doing that to seek money.”
He also challenged the government on money received from the proceeds of corruption so far saying Nigerians are beginning to ask questions on what the administration is doing or has done with those monies.
A civil rights activist and security expert, Razak Oladosu said Nigeria is currently burning and it needs to come up with a rescue plan else the consequences might be great, while another activist flayed the government that Nigerians have lost confidence in it because of its actions.It was also noted at the conference that Buhari has failed in his human rights promises on the premise that those whom the court has granted bail were still being detained by the government.
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