By Steve Oni, Ilorin
A Former United Nations Under-Secretary General, Professor Ibrahim Gambari has advocated the need for Nigeria to create and strengthen institutions that would assist in achieving the national goals of holistic security, democratic governance and sustainable socio-economic development.
According to him, “in Nigeria, we don’t run short of ideas. A lot of ideas have been canvassed on different pertinent issues and challenges that bedeviled our country but the problem we have is that of implementation, hence the need to build and strengthen our institutions.
Professor Gambari, while delivering the sixth Convocation Lecture of the Kwara State University, Malete, titled “19 Years of Democracy in Nigeria and Beyond: Challenges and Prospects” held at the University’s Convocation Arena, said for a meaningful growth of good governance and democracy, there is evidently the need to develop and strengthen the institutions of democracy.
These institutions, according to him, include, the legislature, executive, judiciary, political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations and the press, stressing the need to ponder and reflect on both successes and failures of the country from time to time.
He said: “The imperative of building strong National Institutions for our Democracy and Development cannot be over-emphasized. One of the greatest challenges of nation-building is that of lack of strong national institution building. Whether nations are able to manage their political and social disputes peacefully, without lapsing into conflict, or sustain economic growth without creating huge inequalities, critically depend on the quality of the relevant national institutions.
“ In this regard, there are three important components to institution building: setting the rules; hiring persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organizations; and ensuring that the institutions inspire public confidence by being accountable, transparent, fair and consistent”, Professor Gambari explained further.”
The Founder and Chairman Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development also asked agencies that should act as checks and balances, including the judiciary and the media, to avoid issues that could get them enmeshed in series of controversies.
Professor Gambari stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to create policies and invest the necessary resources in infrastructure and services, empowering people to improve their conditions and safeguard the children’s lives, thus accelerating progress towards the Millinum Development Goals
On the 2019 general polls, the Chancellor of Kwara State University urged Nigerian politicians seeking elective offices to realize the fact that there is no other civilized method of expressing preferences than utilizing the democratic process, adding that they must learn to accommodate one another, no matter their political inclinations.
According to him, “ the political space has been greatly heated up such that we require positive actions to ward off the negative effects of incendiary pronouncements. We must not pretend that hate speech, hurling of insults and making dangerous statements portray well for the coming elections; and the whole antennae of the global community is focussed on Nigeria. Anything that is deceitful amounts to insulting the intelligence of our people”.
The Convocation lecturer however charged the federal government to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a free and fair election in next year’s polls and beyond, saying that government must give that support while insisting on a permanent end to impunity and zero-tolerance for thuggery and manipulation of elections.
He asked political parties in Nigeria to also abandon the current political normadism where the sole purpose is for acquisition of power in order to satisfy parochial interest of the political class and not of the people.
To attain this, Professor Gambari said it is important that parties are based on issues, group interests and ideology.
“Elections are not an end in themselves rather a process leading to the real business of governance. Elections 2019 in Nigeria and beyond must represent a watershed with the potential to cross a threshold into a new era in global governance and human experience. Nigerians must be allowed to freely elect the leaders of their choice from any of the registered political parties”, he added.