By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has said that democracy cannot be guaranteed where there is prevalence of poverty, even as it disclosed plans to build African Democratic Institute (ADI) in Abuja for research and learning of universal philosophy and practice of democracy.
IPAC National Chairman, Yusuf Sani Yabagi, who disclosed this at the weekend in Abuja during the Council’s courtesy visit on the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), said global thrust in democracy transcends the rituals of elections through the ballot box, the observance of the rule of law and fundamental human rights.
“… there can be no guarantee for the survival of any system of government by whatever name, if the system is not constructed on the foundation of security of lives and property where poverty is prevalent”, he said.
Yabagi said even as Nigeria has come on the road of democracy for an unprecedented period of twenty-three years, all hands must be on deck, as politicians should not rest on their oars by taking it for granted that they have crossed the Jordan River and cannot go back to the old road they traversed.
According to him, “Vigilance and relentless efforts must be continuously exerted by the present generation of Nigerians who have a generational responsibility of being pioneers and builders of democracy.
“In the context of the principal architects of forth Republic, I wish to point out that in spite of the downturn in the nation’s economy that has lasted the last seven years, and the catastrophe of the Covid-19 global pandemic, the present crop of our governors and other leaders at the national and sub-regional governments, must be commended for the much they have been able to accomplish in reinforcing the roots of democracy through uplifting the quality of life of the citizens.
“We have seen the provision of infrastructure and creation of institutions and programmes even in the face of lean resources. These commendable efforts and the outstanding landmarks must have been informed by the consciousness that, to grow and deepen the practice of democracy, consistent efforts must be made to drive the levers of governments in the direction of attaining practical impact on the lives of the electorate.”
Speaking on establishing a continent-wide democracy institute under the name, the African Democratic Institute in Abuja, the IPAC chairman said the proposed institute is intended to attract scholars, researchers, politicians and workers in democracy-related institutions and agencies.
“The curricular will be structured to impart the teaching of the universal tenets of democracy, in the context of the peculiar African characteristics, culture and history. This lofty project is obviously, one that IPAC will be looking up to the collaboration and support of all strategic stakeholders among which, I must point out, the Nigerian Governors Forum, will be especially looked upon for needed material and moral assistance”, he said.
He further urged the Governors to assist in strengthening the presence and operations of chapters of IPAC in their respective states with regards to the provision of office accommodation, logistics among other material requirements to make for their vibrant and effective operation.
Responding, the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, who is also the Governor of Ekiti State, said “We are not driven by the agenda of any political party, but we are driven more by the interest of the State that we govern and our interests as association of Governors”, he said.
“Receiving IPAC falls within that purview of our Organisation, the Nigeria Governors Forum. I am happy you are interested in using IPAC as a vehicle for institutional deepening of our Democratic project.
“You talked about establishing an Institute in Abuja for training, research, for promoting the values of democracy in Nigeria. Even though we have not done any work on political parties training or party development, but listening to you, I don’t think we are averse to supporting such initiatives, as long as it is not one sided, or driven by any political agenda.
“If it is broadly speaking, focusing on deepening the Democratic project, stemming the reversal that we have seen in some countries, particularly in our sub-region. We will do all we can do to ensure that democracy thrives in our climes, we must do all we can in that respect, to promote Electoral integrity, to also ensure that governments deliver in its promises to Nigerians, and these are principles that I think you had espoused.