APC’s Opposition’ll Enhance Democracy, Bruton, Straw Insist …As Amaechi, Falana Seek Citizens’ Power

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Former Prime Minister of Ireland, John Bruton and former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw say the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will help strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
Speaking at the International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance at the Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, both Straw and Bruton observed that opposition will help give voice to the minority and reduce the winner takes it all syndrome.
Straw, who spoke on “Democracy, Nationhood, and Citizenship Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities in the Global Order”, said the ‘winner takes it all’ syndrome was responsible for the corruption and weakening of Nigeria’s democracy.
In the words of the former British foreign secretary, “strong opponents keep you on your toes because the robustness of government is tested.”
He also harped on accountability and transparency, lamenting that the country’s huge resources have been acquired by minority few, but submitted that one way to reverse the situation was to make sure that, “those who are guilty of wrongdoing are held accountable and the government must also account’’.
Straw believed that Nigeria could learn from the United Kingdom, which instituted the ” Magna Carta’’ in 1689 to check bad governance.
In addition, he sued for an effective electoral process that would give power to the people to choose their leaders, reasoning that apart from 2011 elections, most of the elections in the country had been seriously faulted by the international community.
He maintained that the country needed to build on the success of the previous elections in 2015, adding that, “there is still a long way to go in your elections, as there are apprehensions on 2015 elections”.
For Straw, “strengthening and monitoring of elections is a sine qua non for democracy”.
On his part, former Ireland prime minister, John Bruton expressed similar view with Straw but pointed out that free, fair and credible election, strong political parties and independent institutions were crucial factors.
He said, “the stronger you make your democracy, the better foreign investments you attract”.
Bruton argued that, “good governance is not a destination but a process”, insisting that no country has gotten there yet.
Calling on the citizenry to show patriotism, Bruton also challenged politicians to forge a common sense of allegiance to their country, stressing that, “those who win elections should foster unity and sense of patriotism”.
He also advocated for an equitable economic system, where wealth would be evenly distributed, as he recommended a transparent tax system for all citizens.
Meanwhile, human rights advocate and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana has called on the people to monitor their leaders.
Falana said, “the people need to be eternally vigilant”, arguing that chapter two of the Nigeria Constitution has made provisions for the fundamental human rights through which the citizens could exercise their rights.
“What Abuja is doing is a total repudiation of chapter two of the Constitution”, Falana observed, as he condemned the Federal Government for trampling on the rights of the people.
He praised Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for organising the summit, stating that, “democracy is growing in our country, especially in Rivers State. For the first time, issues of governance are given attention”.
Later, Governor Chibuike Amaechi called on the people to be alive to their responsibility, saying that, “until we become active, the country is almost helpless and hopeless”.
Amaechi reasoned that even with the weak leadership at the centre, the country could nurture strong institutions by letting them operate without interference.
The Rivers State governor lamented that the country was being bedraggled by corruption and impunity, insisting that time has come for the people to demand resource control.
Amaechi asked the people, “if you don’t give yourself resource control, who will give it to you?”

Rivers State Governor,  Chibuike Amaechi (2nd left), former Prime Minister of Ireland, John Bruton (2nd right), former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw (right) and Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru, during the International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday. Photo: Egberi Sampson
Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi (2nd left), former Prime Minister of Ireland, John Bruton (2nd right), former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw (right) and Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru, during the International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday. Photo: Egberi Sampson