A progressive society is said to be one which consistently seeks the means of its conservation through the protection of democratic liberties.
Nations are therefore expected to be guided by this philosophy in their chequered political history against anti-democratic forces and the trappings of institutional abasement.
However, pundits and critical stakeholders are of the view that democratic transition in Nigeria in recent times fall short of the tenets of an egalitarian society.
Rt. Hon Dumnamene Dekor, member-elect, Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency is one of the adherents of reforms in the Nigeria’s electoral process to evince the conviction of the citizenry in the democratic process.
Rt Hon Dekor who spoke with The Tide in an interview ahead of the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, picked holes in the conduct of the last general elections in the country, stating that the right of the citizenry to exercise their franchise was grossly threatened by anti-democratic forces.
Dekor said the reluctance of the All Progressive Congress (APC)led Federal Government to effect practical reforms in the electoral process was an indication of a deliberate plot to subjugate the rights of Nigerians and breed political system where the whims and caprices of some emerging political tyrants would hold sway.
According to the Ogoni born politician, such insensitivity and remote sense of power portends grave consequences for the country; “Representative democracy is under severe threat in Nigeria, a system were citizens are obstructed from participating in the election of their political leaders will create room for the emergence of leaders who are completely alienated from the people, when leaders emerge through popular mandate they are conscious of the fact that they owe the electorates a sense of responsibility.”
Dekor who observed a lull in national planning and development under the APC led federal government, said the years of late U at Umaru Yaradua and Goodluck Jonathan as presidents were characterised by equity and fairness in federal appointments and citing of projects across the country: “The APC government has failed to respond to the imperatives of justice in the running of the country’s affairs, Nigeria is a federal structure and operate on the principles of Federal Character, unfortunately the federal character principle seem to have been suspended. The country is presently drifting towards tribalism and nepotism as almost all federal appointments are lopsided, Nigerians are now vulnerable to unabated repressions and anarchy.”
Commenting on the conduct of the last general elections in Rivers state, the grassroots politician decried what he described as “brazen impunity “against the right of Rivers people to elect their leaders: “The experience in Rivers state during the last general elections was quite disheartening, the exercise was reduced to a full military operation, there was a gross circumvention of civil authorities by military forces, I commend Rivers people for remaining poised and resilient in the face of intimidation and conspiracies, I think the greatest lesson from the last election in Rivers is that there is a limit to tyranny as the will of the people must always prevail, politicians should learn to play the game by the rules and not by tyranny of mere will.”
Rt. Hon Dekor is obviously not a greenhorn in legislative business. He ascended the ladder of legislative duties, when he rose from the position of Deputy Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly to become a member of the Federal House of Representatives under the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP).
However his first sojourn in the National Assembly was truncated few months after, a situation he described as a theft of his and insult on the sensibilities of the people of Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency.
Dekor vowed to reclaim his “stolen” mandate and was vindicated when recontested for the same seat, still under the platform of the PDP and in a landslide victory.
According to him, his second sojourn in the Nation Assembly is to consolidate on the gains of Representative Democracy by giving effective representation to the people of Khana/Gokana,and contribute in meaningful debates for the enactment of laws that will promote democracy in Nigeria.
Listing the panacea for sustainable democracy in Nigeria, the Federal Lawmaker elect said: “Only a strong parliament and a strong opposition can salvage Nigeria’s democracy.”
He recalled that the foundation of Nigeria’s democracy was strong at its incubational stage because there were committed leaders, patriots and parliamentarians who gave service and defended the tenets of democracy.
He however noted that the system nosedived because of the instructions of the country’s legislative processes, as the legislature was always the first to be suspended during military incursions in politics: “Nigeria’s democracy is evolving, a country’s journey to nationhood is always tedious but it takes a high level of commitment on the leaders and citizens to achieve success.”
Dekor also barred his mind on Governor Nyesom Wike’s post victory declarations, particularly the olive branch offered to members of the opposition join perforce with his administration for the development Of Rivers State.
He said: “Governor Wike is a man of great leadership skills and capabilities, I applaud him for his magnanimity and politics of accommodation, he is a man of his words and he has already demonstrated sincerityof purpose by accommodating people of various divides in his transition program.”
The seasoned Law Maker called on all politicians in Rivers State to embrace the offer by the RiversState Governor and abhor politics of bitterness to movethe State forward.
He regretted the fact that the enemies of Rivers State takes advantage of the political squabbles in the stateto paint the State in bad light: “Rivers State is a costly political bride and the centre of unfettered attraction in the country, most people envy Rivers State because of its strategic economic advantage, we must stop the politics of lies and calumny which has robbed the state of federal projects.”
Dekor was also saddened by the cult relate war and bloodletting that have engulfed Ogoni in recent times, resulting in the colossal wastages of human lives and properties.
He said the virtues of hard work and discipline for which Ogoni was renowned was fast eroding as a result of the invasion of the area by unbridled cultism: “Ogoni is drifting into anarchy and this is inimical to the overall development of the area. Something must be done to curb this menace. Let me use this opportunity to call on all Ogoni sons and daughters to embrace peace and shun cultism”
He attributed the crisis in Ogoni and other parts of society to neglect of the traditional values and norms of the people in preference of a strange culture that glorifies mediocrity: “It’s regrettable that most youths today do not want to work hard and apply skills to earn a living, but they want to live exorbitant and flamboyant lifestyles, there is also the issueof bad role modeling, as most young people today have admiration for those who use arm illegally to acquire wealth.
Speaking on the implementation of the UNEP report recommendation on the clean-up of Ogoni environment, Dekor described the exercise as “a piece of fraud.”
He berated the federal government for playing politics with Ogoni clean up exercise.
He said, “There is no clean up going on in Ogoni, rather the federal government is concerned about the resumption of oil exploration in ogoni the area. It’s quite disturbing that the federal government is playing politics with the destiny of a people that have paid a great price for the development of the country, some of the clandestine activities of federal government are responsible for the insecurity in Ogoni Land.”
APC: C’River LP Disowns Decampees
The Labour Party (LP) has disowned one Mr. Maurice Ekeng, who claimed to be Chairman of the party in Cross River State, and his purported exco who defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC)
The party, in a press statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, described the action of Ekeng and others as “laughable and unfortunate for an old man who parades himself as an elder of the church”.
The statement signed by Comrade Dr. Ofem Lekam, State Publicity Secretary of the party said, “The attention of the leadership of Labour Party in Cross River State led by Ambassador Ogar Osim as Chairman and Comrade Asuquo Etim as State Secretary has been drawn to publications claiming that the State Chairman and members of his executive have decamped to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“Mr Ekeng is an impostor who was never made a State Chairman at any Congress. We challenge him to publish the names of his executive, pictures taken in 2021 extra-ordinary NEC meeting in Benin City where the National Chairman, Julius Abure and the Secretary, Alhaji Farouk Ibrahim were elected, as well as that of Home Land Hotel Calabar where the National Leadership represented by the Vice Chairman South South, Prince Reuben Nuka inaugurated the current State Caretaker
“The impostor from all available evidences is a member of APC sponsored to create confusion in a peaceful party of idealists who are making sacrifices in travelling round the nooks and crannies of the state to revive the structures of the party at all level in the state which is already making monumental impact in the state ahead of 2023.
“We want to put it on record that, Labour Party is intact, and is not contemplating merging with All Progressive Congress (APC) and any other political party; rather it is a party to beat come 2023.
“We appeal to the general public to disregard any news making the rounds that the LP Chairman and his executive have decamped, it is the imagination of political jobbers and mischief-makers whose occupation is to sacrifice their integrity and ideology just for peanuts.
“It is also instructive to advise Mr. Bassey Ita serving at APC Secretariat at Marian Road Calabar not to allow the temporary excitement of the moment to cloud his sense of reasoning by accepting people claiming a platform without verification.
“It is pathetic that Mr. Bassey Ita is yet to realize that with Governor Prof. Ben Ayade now as leader of APC CRS, the days of kangaroo administration of APC CRS should have been over by now in Cross River State.”
INEC To Deploy 5,346 Personnel For CVR
INEC said on Monday in Abuja that it would deploy 5,346 personnel to 2,673 registration centres for Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) resuming nationwide on June 28.
Its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the declaration at the presentation of INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) and online registration portal for the exercise at a meeting he held with media executives.
IVED is an Android tablet to be used in place of the existing Data Capturing Machine used for CVR in previous exercises.
Prof. Yakubu said that before now INEC had 1,446 registration centres where it registered 14. 2 million voters between 2017 and 2018.
“Learning from the experience of what happened, we have now almost doubled the number of those centres.
“Our hope is that unlike 14.2 million we registered in the previous exercise, we are targeting a minimum of 20 million registrants this time. It will take the number of registered voters to about 100 million,’’ Yakubu said.
He said that majority of the 5,346 personnel to be deployed would be INEC officials, while ad-hoc staff would be used where the Commission lacked the required number of personnel.
He said that the Commission was working with stakeholders for the security of personnel and equipment to be deployed.
Yakubu disclosed that the design for both the online portal and IVED were done by INEC engineers, taking into consideration Nigeria’s peculiarity, including weather, for its durability.
He said registrants would be able to know where machines for registration are located via the portal.
He also noted that the Commission was working on ensuring that Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for internally-displaced persons were reproduced for them so as not to be disenfranchised.
Many would have lost their cards while under siege, he said.
Prof. Yakubu also said that PVCs for newly-registered voters would be produced on quarterly basis after the registration, noting that the list of the registrants would be displayed at the registration units for claims and objections.
Presenting the online portal and IVED, INEC’s Director of ICT, Mr Chidi Nwafor, said that the online portal was designed to serve various needs of eligible Nigerians for the registration.
These, according to Nwafor, include new registration, review of registration, and review of personal details or voting centres, PVCs replacement or collection.
“As a new voter, you can pre-register online, or as a registered voter, you can revalidate your voter registration, request to update your information or transfer your voter registration to another polling unit, Nwafor said.
He said that registrants could register their details online before going to the nearest registration centre selected by them for photographs and finger prints capturing to complete the exercise.
Nwafor said that the portal was designed in a way that once an intending voter completed the online registration, an appointment for physical registration would be generated by the portal for the registrant.
He added that any registrant who could not meet up with the appointed date and time could reschedule the appointment via the same portal.
He said that the portal also made provision for people to contact the Commission in the event of challenges during online registration.
He noted that a registrant had 14 days to complete the online pre-registration and a year to complete the whole process.
He advised registered voters to make use of the portal to identify polling units or centres nearest to them.
Nwafor also assured that the Commission was putting adequate security in place to protect the device and the portal against hacks or cybercrime.
He also said that concerns about underage voter registration would be taken care of as those that registered online would still visit the registration centre before the process could be completed.
The media executives in a communiqué issued after the meeting suggested that the CVR be devolved to INEC LGA Council offices based on thorough appraisal of security situations and related factors.
They also recommended that the CVR be gradually devolved to other designated registration centres nationwide after assessments of security situations and other factors relating to safety of personnel and materials.
They tasked relevant stakeholders, especially political parties, traditional institutions, religious leaders and Civil Society Organisations to mobilise all eligible registrants to participate in the CVR.
PDP NWC Harps On Unity Over Anambra Guber Poll
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) has called for unity among stakeholders in Anambra state, ahead the June 26 primaries for the state governorship election.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, made the call during the NWC meeting with the party aspirants, leaders and other stakeholders from Anambra, held in Abuja on Monday.
Secondus said the meeting was called to enable the NWC to interact with stakeholders, as elections held off season were always very stormy and tough.
“We are here basically for us to make sure first and foremost that all our leaders and all our aspirants are in unity. It is very important for this trying period and you know the period, we are in,”he said.
Secondus said that unity was key, especially now that the country was passing through challenges including insecurity that must not be taken for granted.
He said the only way to get out of that was to make sure that things were done properly.
“Let there be fairness, equity and justice, which is in deficit in our country; and that is what the PDP stands for.
“We stand for fairness, equity and justice under the rule of law. This is a party that believes that all Nigerians are one. We must live together as brothers and sisters,” he said.
The party chairman said that Anambra was key to the mission of rescuing Nigeria and uniting the country.
“Anambra is the economic key of our country and we must conduct our affairs to show the world that PDP is different and ready to rescue this country.
“That is why we are to interact with leaders of our party, and at the end of this meeting, I think we will go home happy that on Saturday it will be the freest congresses ever that are conducted.
“So, Anambra, we want to advise, we want to call our people, the time to put down ourselves is now.
“This is the time to look at each other. We must not allow both Anambra and our country to fail. We must show that good example.
“You have been leading in several areas, you must lead politically now. Our leaders must be statesmen. They must look beyond an individual and narrow interest.
“It is time for us to look at Nigeria. If we get it wrong, the consequences will be great. It will reflect on other parts of the country,” Secondus said.
Also, PDP National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu, said the meeting was customary anytime PDP had major contests.
Akobundu said the meeting was called to ensure everybody was carried along in the primary to ensure peaceful outcome.
“It is for this reason that the NWC directed to meet with all stakeholders in Anambra.
“This is just a cross section of our quality stakeholders in Anambra that were invited to attend this meeting.
“It is simply to rub minds, have an interactive session and discuss ways and means that we can employ to have hitch-free primary with everybody on board.”
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