Stakeholders call for accountable democracy as Soyinka turns 85

Cynthia Okere, Lagos

The son of the celebrant, Olaokun Soyinka cuts the birthday cake alongside other dignitaries at the event.

Democracy does not work unless it has inclusion, credibility, transparency as well as competitiveness.

The Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative AEDPI, Obiageli Ezekwesili stated this at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series in Lagos in commemoration of the 85th birthday of Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate.

Mrs. Ezekwesili urged Nigerians to always consider values whenever they are making choice of those that will become their leaders.

According to her, those that should be voted for during any elections should be people with values and character regardless of age.

She urged Nigerians not to take their voting power for granted but should always exert their powers in demanding for their rights from those they voted into power.

She called for a Nigeria where the people are at the centre of governance in planning and implementation of what the leaders are doing, saying that good governance is rested on good values.

“Democracy should be accountable but some leaders don’t know this. It’s time people rose up to understand that in democracy, their power is limitless. Let the leaders know that it’s no longer business as usual. People should not get tired in fighting for their rights. Nigerians should be conscious of their powers as the citizens and exert it in demanding for their rights. Citizens have abandoned politics in the hands of politicians. It cannot work that way,” she added.

Affirmative Action
The Senior Programme Officer MacArthur Foundation, Amina Salihu called for gender-based affirmative action in governance.

Mrs. Salihu said women have been seen as the minorities with their voices being diminished.

She called for naming and shaming of sex offenders through the launch of a national sex offenders register which she assured will happen shortly.

“Women constitute almost fifty percent of the population and so, you cannot have a credible election, democratic accountability and good governance without the full participation of women in the democratic processes. Women should not be marginal to political issues and development. The political system is configured to shot out women. It is wrong to poorly engage women  in the process of governance. There should be equitable development and equality of opportunities,” she said.

On his part, the Nigeria Info Radio Group Editorial Board Chairman, Rotimi Sankore wants the media to report factually and seek to educate and solve problems rather than add to the existing problems.

According to him, the media needs to engage with data and evidences in their reportage of issues affecting the country and its people.

“Lack of in-depth reporting, verifications of facts and deployment of evidence by the media has denied the people the opportunity to engage issues appropriately,” Rotimi said.

The son of the celebrant, Olaokun Soyinka, thanked the people on behalf of the family for celebrating Wole Soyinka saying that his struggles to hold power accountable and fight against impunity are still relevant today.

He called on the youths not to relent in their struggles to take over powers.

The speakers who wished Prof. Wole Soyinka a good ending as he marked his 85th birthday spoke from the theme, Rethinking Credible Elections, Accountable Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria

Highlights of the event were the cutting of birthday cake and appreciation from the organiser, Monturayo Alaka.