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.”
Political Space Is Only For Parties Ready To Take Power – Okoye
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s), Festus Okoye, national Commissioner on Information and Voter Education has reminded Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) that political space is meant for political parties that are ready to take power, maintaining that political associations can exist, mobilise, build structures before seeking registration, as soon as they get registered they must be ready to take power.
Okoye said this while speaking on a local media station after the High Court adjourned hearing in the case filed by 33 political parties under the auspices of IPAC, challenging their deregistration by INEC.
The national commissioner reminded IPAC that as registered political parties, they should be ready to take power, because the space was not for learning, as the electoral body would be prepared to de-register any political partyand relegate it to an association if it found out that the party failed to meet the threshold of its registration, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.
“The political parties contesting did not meet the terms of their registration, neither did they win elections in their various states, nor met the projections. Two of the parties that went to court, Labour Party and African Democratic Party, were not deregistered. They claimed they had court injunctions and I don’t know what they are doing in court.”
“The spirit and intent of the constitution, is that political associations can exist, mobilize people, build up structures. The moment they come for registration means they are ready to take power. If you are not due for political power, you should not apply for registration, because the political space is not for learning or testing the ground”, he said.
Okoye said that 74 political parties had been deregistered and the deregistion had already taken place.
He maintained that because the 33 political parties that went to court were aware that deregistration had taken place, that was why on 14 February they filed an application in court, asking the court to reverse it.
The INEC official stated that the act had already been completed, that was why the court adjourned till 27 February for accelerated hearing.
IPAC Hails Court Order Restraining INEC From De-Registering 31 Parties
The Inter-Party Adversary Council (IPAC) has described the judgment stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering political parties as victory for democracy and future generations.
National chairman of the council, Peter Ameh, who made the comment while addressing newsmen shortly after the ruling, said the late Gani Fawehinmi gave the 33 political parties that went to court the courage.
Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in her ruling, said, having failed to counter the application by the applicants, the affected political parties had the legal right, which must be protected.
In an interlocutory motion with suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/444/19 between Advanced Congress of Democratis (ACD) and two others vs. Attorney-General of the Federation and another (INEC), the applicants had on October 30, 2019, approached the court.
The IPAC chairman insisted that there was no way the commission would have succeeded in the illegality it perpetrated against the parties and the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
“We have every reason to thank everybody who stood against this illegality, especially Okey Raph Nwosu, who, despite his party scaling the deregistration hurdle, still joined in the suit because he believed in democracy.
“We believe in the spirit of the Constitution as stated in Section 40, which gave Nigerians the right to freely belong to any political association, and the Constitution stipulated that no agency of government can restrict that right.
“We started this case since last year when we saw that there was plan to put Nigeria upside down. It is our right to defend the constitution through section 225 to challenge the commission to stop it from taking this illegal action.
“INEC should know that if the interest of a political party is to talk about free education, the party should be allowed. If the interest is to talk about tree planting in the North-East, it should be allowed to continue with it.
Group Advises Women On Increased Participation In Politics
Enugu State chapter of the Nigeria League of Women Voters, has urged women to be very active in politics to avoid marginalisation.
The state chairperson of the league, Mrs Nnenna Anozie made the call in an interview with our source in Enugu yesterday.
was a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) that aims at empowering women both politically and economically.
She said that the league encouraged women to participate in election; adding that they discovered that in the last elections, many women did not participate either as voters or contestants in the elections.
Anozie said that the organisation aimed creating more awareness on the girl child and for every woman to be aware of her civil rights in the state and the country at large.
The chairperson said the group recently visited one of the girls schools in Enugu where they shared sanitary pads, carried out sensitisation awareness on dangers of drug abuse, rape and others.
”This is one way of giving back to the society as well as empowering our women because knowledge is power. Most of them are not knowledgeable about their rights and how to keep hygiene.
”Many of them are rape victims and they are not opening up because of stigmatisation.
”We want to embark on the sensitisation drive in all the states in the country; hoping that come 2023 most of our women will be equipped to run for political offices both at the local, state and national levels,” she said.
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