NIGERIANS urged to use the 2023 polls to create a new vision for nationhood and citizenship, to enhance participatory democracy.
Making the call in Abuja, the the Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Dr Chido Onumah said that Onumah said recent calls for a return to an undefined ‘true Federalism ‘ has raised questions in the ongoing national debate on federalism as a political system and form of government.
At a Pre-election Conference on Democracy, Federalism and the 2023 polls organized by the Centre with support from the Social Development Integrated Centre (SocialAction) in Abuja on Thursday, Onumah, noted that “as we head into a very important election, these questions are begging for answers.
“This conference provides space for serious and constructive dialogue from scholars, thought leaders, youths, workers, politicians and social activists to make contributions relevant to promoting emancipatory and progressive perspectives on democracy, federalism and nation-building in Nigeria.”
He hoped that the speakers at the conference would be able to shape the conversation and redefine a new vision of nationhood and citizenship.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Onumah said the conference would try to define options for federalism and nation-building including resource control while advancing a national vision through engagement with the political parties.
The Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Dr Sam Amadi, said that the system had failed to carry Nigerians along in terms of having a say in governance.
Amadi said that over the years, politicians had focused on acquisition for self aggrandizement rather than national development.
“The problem is that people in power see power as a way to win the economic power for selfish interests.
“It is important therefore for Nigerians to develop courage to think of ways to tackle the root cause of the problem. People need to ask the right questions organize and put in power persons who think like they do,” he said.
He called on the citizens needed to elect peopele who understood the challenges facing the nation and were willing to do something to solve the problem.
According to him, “there is no way you can run away from politics, you have to organise, win power, and push the ideas that can change the country. I think that’s the way forward for Nigeria.”
A policy analyst, Hauwa Mustapha, said democracy was about the people and about participation, “about people taking control of their destiny, managing the resources and being part of the decision making about things that affects their lives.
“We must invest in people’s empowerment, people need to be aware and have access to information as well as access to participatory democracy.
“Once people are part of the process of governance, then you deepen democracy, reduce friction and conflicts in the society.”
Noting that people were usually not comfortable with policies and programmes they felt excluded from, she said that once they were part of decision making process, even if things went wrong, they would take a collective blame and fix it.