Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has declared that resolving national economic challenges is a condition for strengthening democratic culture and enhancing productive participation of the citizenry.
Speaking at the 2023 Democracy Day Lecture organised by the Coalition of Civil Society Coalition in the state, the governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Hon Teslim Igbalaye, posited that an economically satisfied citizenry is a strong insurance for thriving democracy and good governance.
“A foundation we cannot leave out is the economic platform of the society practicing democracy. An hungry citizenry is likely to pose a serious threat to a credible electoral democratic process. Efforts to stabilise the economic life of the nation are also strong preconditions for an empowered citizenry. Addressing poverty and catering for citizens’ economic requirements will go a long way to enhance the potency of the population”, the Governor affirmed.
Other issues the governor identified as important for strengthening democratic culture include a fair electoral umpire and security agencies committed to rule of law.
“Conditionalities such as a truly fair electoral umpire and impartial security agencies are strong complements to an active citizenry. We must add that voters must also eschew vote selling to ensure the manifestation of their will not only at the ballot but during the governance process.
“In the last elections, we saw a hyper level of citizen mobilisation across the electoral cycle. Even when low turnout is still a nagging question, we must accept that citizen’s electoral militancy was the hottest in Nigeria’s political history. We can then arguably posit that the citizenry has woken up from their slumber and are prepared to enforce a functional, people- based electoral process”, the Governor noted.
Adeleke said Nigeria must uphold certain basic democratic norms for citizens’ participation to yield needed results, adding that “the democratic culture grows and flourishes when all the electoral and governance sub-sectors play their parts within the context of due process and rule of law.
Describing Osun as a litmus test for Nigeria’s democracy, Adeleke narrated how his administration is straightening citizens’ participation and responsiveness in the delivery of public service.
“To strengthen citizens’ role in democracy and governance, our administration introduced a truly people -based style built on open governance principles and people first practices. Our Government is addressing workers’ needs in ways that ensure both formal and informal workers are revived from years of neglect. We are upgrading the state of our infrastructure to boost local economy, enhance inter and intra town connectivity and fight poverty of social amenities.
“On the issue of accountability and transparency, we are working to host the first elaborate public accountability forum named IPADE IMOLE later this month. At the open forum , we will present our scorecards and provide a productive citizen participation opportunity in the governance process”, the Number One Citizen informed.
The governor however cautioned Nigerians on any expectation of perfection in democratic practice, adding that “No democracy is perfect. From Europe to North America, democracy is still a work in progress. In Africa, we are in a state of convulsion within the democratic space.
“We however have no option than to continue the experimentation until we reach close to perfection”, the Governor concluded.