20th January, 2014
By Power Ziakede Aginighan
In spite of the posturing of Nigeria’s political parties as democratic or progressive, none of them practices internal democracy in the conduct of their Congresses from the Ward Congress to the National Convention. None of them is democratic and none is progressive. All of them have been hijacked by very powerful individuals who determine who should be Party Officers or candidates for elective offices.
As long as after every election in Nigeria, losers head to Election Tribunals to protest outcomes of elections lost largely because they were out-rigged by opponents; as along as some electoral officers can, with impunity, declare results for elections not held, we are far from being a democratic nation.
While I commend President Goodluck Jonathan’s avowed commitment to one man, one vote as re-echoed in his 2014 New Year message to Nigerians, I wish to seize this auspicious occasion of my 55th birthday to appeal to Mr President to strengthen the institutions with statutory responsibility for deepening democratic culture in Nigeria.
An agency that is particularly relevant to our quest for a truly democratic Nigeria is the National Orientation Agency. Sections (3)1(d) and (e) of the National Orientation Agency Act respectively charges the agency with “establishing social institutions and framework for deliberate exposure of Nigerians to democratic norms and values” and “energizing the conscience of all categories of Nigerians on their rights and privileges, responsibilities and obligations as citizens of Nigeria”.
I urge the National Orientation Agency to be the carriers of Mr President’s one man one vote pledge by urgently commencing programmes of educating all Nigerians on the power of their vote in the various languages spoken by Nigerians. This should include jingles on radio and television throughout Nigeria.
An enlightened citizen will resist the temptation of offering his vote for sale; not only will he cast his vote but ensure that he defends the vote being cast.
Without strengthening institutions like Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which has the duty of conducting elections and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) which has the duty of enlightening Nigerians on their rights and obligations as citizens, it will be wishful thinking to have credible elections in Nigeria.
•Pastor Aginighan wrote this article to commemorate his 55th birthday.