Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has called on Nigerians to participate actively in the political process to ensure good governance and democratic sustainability in the country.
He made the call in Asaba at a two-day Seminar/Workshop on “Good Governance and Democratic Sustainability vis-a-vis Electoral Process” organized by the Asaba Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council.
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said that it was imperative for Nigerians to participate in the political process to enthrone credible leadership in the country at all times.
According to him, “you as citizens need to participate in politics because when you don’t vote, you have inadvertently voted for those who are coming to do the wrong thing.
“Once you are 18 years and above, you need to register and have your voters card and come out to cast your vote on election days.
“Once you have done that you have ended up helping in the sustainability of democracy in the country”.
The Governor appealed to the seminar participants to take the message home to members of their families saying “God will not come down to vote if you don’t prepare to vote.
He commended the Guest Speaker, Senator Shehu Sani, for his outspokenness and contributions to the growth and sustainability of democracy in Nigeria, describing him as a firebrand leader and a man who spoke the truth to power.
He lauded journalists in the state for their support and commitment to the dissemination of information on his administration’s policies and programmes.
Guest Speaker, Kaduna born Senator Shehu Sani, said Nigeria’s democracy was not a gift from the military, but a product of struggle and sacrifice.
He said Nigeria was effectively under full time military rule from 1983 to 1999, during which the dictators forced themselves on power and commended the role played by Professor Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Col Umar Abubakar, Beko Ransome-Kuti among others, in securing Democratic rule.
Senator Sani said the only way to achieve peace in the country was to ensure equity, justice, fairness and treat every Nigerian as a stakeholder in the country and accused the ruling All Progressives Congress APC of cluelessness, noting that the party had failed to fulfill all the promises made to Nigerians in 2015.
The Activist said the only legacy the government could leave for the people was to secure their lives, adding that the people were not even asking to be lifted out of poverty but to secure their lives while they managed their poverty.
On the nation’s precarious economy, he accused the ruling party of accumulating debts and took a swipe at the National Assembly for approving all loans requested by the Buhari administration without proper use.
Sani blasted the PDP for being too elitist, timid and cowardly to protest all the evil happenings in the country, recalling that when PDP was in power, the then opposition leaders, including Buhari and Oshiomhole, led over 30 protests against perceived wrong doings of the Jonathan administration.
“The PDP has forgotten what the APC did to them in the past, If the PDP is desirous of taking over power from the APC, there must be unity among themselves and they have the people to do it.
“I say this because 80 percent of the people vying for the presidency of this country are not serious.
“Why should people accept quota system and reject rotational power? Those who accept quota system should also accept zoning,” Sani added.
The former Senator said democracy could only be sustained with free, fair and transparent elections, adding “it’s difficult for good people to emerge because the whole process is monetized, people buy their positions”.
He said the payment of N100m to purchase nomination forms will end up encouraging kidnapping, because no matter how good you are you can’t be anything until you have money to share for the people.
“As we move towards the 2023 elections, the ruling party has nothing more to offer they should leave us in peace and allow Nigerians to grapple with their problems as long as they don’t have bandits and terrorists harassing them.
“The reality is before us as Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world, farmers cannot go to their farms without paying taxes to terrorists.
“Don’t think because people are suffering that they would vote out the ruling party, if you are not united it will be difficult to oust them.
“The most critical voter in Nigeria is the Northern poor and they are in millions, they don’t vote because they are suffering, they vote where their leaders asked them to vote.
If we want this country to remain as one, we have to treat each other with respect and dignity and you can’t continue to hold people to ransom for the civil war that happened many years ago.
“If people have lost hope in the ruling party then they are expecting and hoping that the opposition would do better.
“As we move towards the 2023 general elections, Nigerians have a duty to do what is right by electing leaders who can perform and restore law and order in the country.
“All we need is a leader with capacity, competence and experience and the people around you who share in your vision,” he stated.
Welcoming guests earlier, Chairman of the Chapel, Dominic Adewole, said the theme of the Workshop was carefully chosen as part of deliberate effort to broaden the discourse on the fast approaching 2023 general election in the country.
He added that the success of next year’s election was largely dependent on the observance of the provisions of the new Electoral Act by the umpire, INEC, and political stakeholders.
The seminar was attended by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, State Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu, representative of the State Commissioner of Police, Dr. Ali Mohammed Ari, among others.
The event featured the presentation of awards to the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu and the Founder/General Overseer of the Divine Faith Evangelical Mission, Agbor, Prophet Joseph Igbodo, who is also the Proprietor of Saint Stephen’s Trust Widows’ Home.