Democracy Day: US based Nigerians harp on unity, end to tribal politics

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    Democracy Day celebrations in Abuja

    AS the nation marked her 21st Democracy Day anniversary, the second to be celebrated on June 12, some Nigerians living in the United States of America have called for an end to politics of tribalism and ethnicity for an ideology based politics.

    Noting that the country had progressed since the return of democracy in 1999, they told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the country today is not particularly where it was 20 years ago in the areas of civil liberty, rule of law and socio-economic development, and blamed “lack of ideology” in politics while advocating for reforms.

    A surgeon based in New Jersey, Dr Seun Sowemimo, said that “one of the positive things is that at least there has been stability in government.

    “There has been one democratically elected government handing over to the other, and that is something we can point at,” even as we celebrate Democracy Day.

    He noted that the country needed to mature in terms of building a strong ideological base for its politics, as “the politics in Nigeria has been very complex in terms of our mix of ethnicity.

    “It is more about affiliating ourselves with where we feel the next bloc of power will come from, and a lot of that has to do with ethnic origins.

    “We have to continue to dialogue with ourselves, educate and orientate ourselves that for us to achieve great things we have to improve the level of our politics.”

    Former Deputy Mayor of the City of Newark in New Jersey, Mr Ugo Nwaokoro, noted that Nigeria is not complex; it is just the mind of our people to be sincere in governance.

    “A problem is our ethnic and religious differences. Those things can actually be our strength.

    “Diversity is a big source of national strength. But how you use it is what matters.

    “If we keep seeing ourselves based on our ethnic groups, then there is a problem.”

    Nwaokoro, a writer and policy strategist called on the political elite to embark on attitudinal change to advance the nation’s democracy.

    New York-based social justice activist and community leader, Mr George Onuorah, pointed out that the nation’s challenges were not peculiar and that democracy is “an imperfect system of governance as evidenced from what we can see in so-called advanced democratic countries.”

    Onuorah called for restructuring of the political and governance systems in the country to “reflect how we live, relate and interact,” and advocated investments in civic and voter education.

    The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Americas, Mr Obed Monago, lauded the improvements made in the area of freedom of expression.

    “People are freer nowadays to express themselves with little or no fear of retribution as opposed to the days of the late Dele Giwa, the Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine.”

    Monago, who also harped on the need for national rebirth and for Nigerians to rise above selfish interests for the good of the country, noted, “we can do better if we are able to overcome the obstacles of ethnic, religious and tribal sentiments in our politics.”

    The President of Mbano National Assembly, an association of U.S.-based Imo indigenes, called for inclusive governance at all levels to foster unity in the country.

    “We are balkanised into regions. We have not been able to come together to understand ourselves as an entity.

    “I have not seen Nigerians profess their country except when the nation is participating in an international soccer competition.

    “When there is a goal, a Yoruba does not care whether it is an Hausa man that is with him; they hug and you can see the passion.

    “I wish we can replicate that in our politics and governance,” especially as we are celebrating Democracy Day.

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