The former World Bank Vice President (Africa) and co-leader of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, said what Nigeria is currently practising is not real but pseudo democracy bequeathed by the Nigerian military.
Ezekwesili made this observation Wednesday as a guest speaker at a seminar on “Advocacy to Lawmakers Seeking Reduction in the Age Limit for Young People Seeking Political Office” with the theme ‘Youths in Nigeria: Inclusion and Participation in Politics’ organised by the League of Progressives Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN).
She explained that the nascent Nigerian democracy was founded on the imperfect constitution drafted under the military authorities and handed over for civil rule.
She, however, noted that even though there were gaps in the constitution, it helped Nigerian democracy to thrive for 17 years, which is the longest stretch of democratic governance since the country gained independence.
“The democracy we have today might not even be real democracy. It might be a pseudo one based on the Constitution handed over to us by the military. However, we must thank God that we have enjoyed democracy now for 17 years.
“Even though there are gaps in the Constitution, it still provides the basis to agitate for more improvement in democracy and for inclusive governance,” she said.
Speaking further, Ezekwesili, noted that the country had only achieved what she termed a “low outcome” since its 56 years of independence.
Consequently, she called for urgency in addressing the issues of governance in the country including visionary youth participation in politics.
“There is an urgency to improve things in the country. By October this year, we are going to be 56 years and in all these we have been able to achieve is this low outcome that the country has found itself. That is why there should be urgency in what we do,” she stressed.
Ezekwesili also noted the fact that in other climes like the United States (US) and other advanced democracy, youths enter into politics with a vision to advance the course of their country and not for monetary gains, which is the norm with most of the politicians in Nigeria.
She also emphasised that the quality of the politicians and institutions go a long way to determine the quality of the governance, policies and programmes in the country.
“Common problems lead us to politics, which in turn lead us to governance, policies and programmes. Our common problems create a necessity for us to therefore engage in politics.
“The quality of the operators of a political system determines the quality of its outcome. So the question is; how are you (youths) going to activate your time to determine the desired quality outcomes,” she posed.
Ezekwesili who was also the former Minister of Solid Minerals and Education, however called on the National Assembly to amend the constitution by reducing the age limit for political aspirants, saying that the current age limit of 30 to 35 for political office participation is outdated.
Earlier, the former Special Assistant (Media) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reuben Abati, in his comment, said one of the impediments of youth participation in active governance was money-politics and lack of political reforms.
Abati urged the political parties, leaders and policy makers to see the issue of youth participation in governance as a right and priority.
“Exclusion and marginalisation is counter-productive, hence youth inclusion is a right and not a privilege. Youth participation in governance and politics is a fundamental rights for every youth,” he said.