Date Published: 10/14/10
Communique Issued at the end of a Seminar on ‘Political Matters-Arising in Ogun State: The Imperativeness of Redefining Democracy to Reflect the Need of the People’
At Gateway Hotel Ota On 12 th October, 2010
The Seminar was organized by the South-West Zone of Peoples’ Action for Democracy (PAD) a broad civil society coalition for political education, research and advocacy in collaboration with Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) a platform for anti-corruption research, documentation, enlightenment and advocacy activities. It is sponsored by First Faculty Ventures, a development consultancy firm.
The Goal of the Forum was to provide a platform for experts to explain the intricacies of separation of powers, checks and balances in executive-legislative work in a democracy with a view to enhancing the credibility of governance and for elected officers to assert the legitimacy of their tenure relative to assigned constitutional roles where the best interest of the people will be sacrosanct using Ogun state as a case study.
Under the Main Theme: ‘Making the People Matter in a Democracy: Imperative Duty for the Executive and Legislature in Nigeria’, the following Sub-Themes were discussed after resource papers were presented by competent lead speakers:
The People vs. the government in a democracy: a contest of authority?
Tyranny in democracy; myth, reality or conjecture?
Making the people the subject, object and ultimate authority in a democracy: ways and means.
Causes, effects and antidotes to executive-legislative feud in a democracy: Ogun state as a case study.
Strategies and tactics for a people to assert their authority in the face of inter-organic feud in a government: Ogun state as case study.
The Seminar was organized to achieve the following objectives:
Redefine democracy beyond just being a ‘government’ to reflect the authority of the people to determine how they should be ruled in open parliament where the true aggregate of peoples opinion will determine policy direction of their government;
Justify need for elected representatives to devise ways and means of meeting the needs of the people no matter how smooth or strained the relationship between the two arms of the government might be.
To identify, determine and explain to general understanding of the populace on what challenges impede progress of executive-legislative work thereby preventing them from meeting their optimal targets or expectations of the citizens and proffer ways and means of surmounting the challenges; and
To come up with a resolution on the generally agreed way-forward for resolving the political impasse in Ogun state. This will detail areas of governance needing priority attention with a realistic time-frame to execute them.
Participants at the seminar included members of PAD and CACOL from different parts of Nigeria as well as invited guests from other civil-society, human rights, faith and community-based organisations, professional bodies, market women, artisans etc. After exhaustive deliberations;
The following observations were made :
Democracy has generally been misapplied in Nigeria to suit the whims and caprices of the ruling clique while the needs of the citizenry are relegated to the background;
The crisis in Ogun State is an intra-class struggle between members of Executive and Legislative arms of government and not between the masses and government;
The struggle is occasioned by disagreement in looting modalities and sharing of supposed looted resources of the state not for the development of various constituencies or well-being of the constituents;
Because of the heinous struggle between the ruling class, masses in the state are denied good governance which is expected through their socio-economic well being;
The Legislative arm of Ogun State government has not fared well by claiming that it is not aware of how the governor expends the state money approved by the legislature. This is a clear aberration as such is an indication of their failing in performing their oversight responsibility to the people of Ogun State;
No executive, be it public or private or, is allowed to waste resources without check. Should there be any financial recklessness, the legislature or the board of directors, as the case may be, is duty bound to curb the excesses of such Chief executive in accordance with the relevant laws, rules or regulations;
Most of the legislators have not been able to demonstrate that they are popular in their various constituencies nor that they have the mandate of their constituencies to stagnate governance for any reason whatsoever;
The Seminar therefore resolved that;
Application of ‘Democracy’ should not be limited to the ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ parliamentary divides which is usually indicated by political godfathers whose pay pack, rather than the will of the people, determines the side of the divide taken by the ‘representatives’ of the people at such parliaments, rather democracy should recognize the voice of the people in various constituencies;
Democracy should be applied to mean the act of a government meeting the needs of its entire citizenry relative to the honestly applied resources available and accruable to it and any government, its arm or organ that fails to meet the need of its citizenry is undemocratic;
The Governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is not, cannot, and should not be seen as a saint. The people of Ogun state would appreciate any efforts of the Legislature to publish any financial anomaly of the Governor while PAD and CACOL should be willing to give it a push with the anti-graft agencies;
Ogun State constituencies should be mobilized by the civil society organisations to take their destinies into their hands once it becomes impossible for their representatives to govern the state in accordance with their wishes;
It is imperative to caution that a state of emergency is unnecessary in resolving the present crisis in Ogun state as such will be viewed as a coercive force to subvert the will of the state’s citizens;
Splitting Nigeria into different ethnic nations, whether on tribal or religious basis, will not solve our problems because such new nations as in the Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, etc. would later discover their differences that would ignite fresh crises; and
A Sovereign National Conference or a revolution is required to reclaim Nigeria from the stronghold of the present ruling clique at all arms and tiers of government in Nigeria.
The Seminar then decided that:
A Committee of ten should be set up to meet with elders and leaders of thought in Ogun state, individually or in groups, with a view to presenting the resolution of this Seminar to them as well as working out the modalities to carry out the other two phases of this interventionist project in the State i.e.
Facilitate an Explanatory Colloquium or Roundtable where the resolution would be jointly, if possible, or separately, if necessary, be presented to the executive and legislative arms of the Ogun state government
Engender Community Actions on the implementation of this resolution in each of the Local Government Areas of the state.
www.debo-adeniran.blogspot.com Wednesday, October 13, 2010