SAN FRANCISCO, July 14, (THEWILL) – Obiageli Ezekwesili, Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI) has called on Nigerians to insist on values in determining those who become their leaders and how the polity is administered.
The former Minister of Education and Minister of Solid Minerals made this call at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series in commemoration of Soyinka’s the 85th birthday which held on Saturday at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
According to Ezekwesili, who was a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, good governance is rested on good values.
In her words, “If we are lacking in the building of those values and the shaping of those values, then we will have to wait endlessly. The people who should win our vote should be people with values and character. Age should not just be the determinant of the people who should lead us; it should be age plus values.
“Citizens have abandoned politics in the hands of politicians. So, our political parties have become the venture of political entrepreneurs. It cannot work that way. Political parties are supposed to be the government in waiting.”
Contributing to the lecture’s theme, “Rethinking Credible Elections, Accountable Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria”, other speakers including Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Amina Salihu, Senior Programme Officer, MacArthur Foundation; Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative; and Rotimi Sankore, Editorial Board Chair, Nigeria Info Radio Group were also on hand to contribute to the lecture.
Osaze-Uzzi explained that the citizens should go beyond thinking and rethinking elections, to acting to see the change they seek.
He urged stakeholders to begin to focus on the electoral process in terms of voter registration, technology and infrastructure, the registration of political parties and other determinants of successful elections.
The crucial issue of gender balance was introduced to the discussion by Salihu, who called for gender based affirmative action in governance.
She maintained that women have been “minoritised” because although they are half the population their voices have been diminished and Salihu used the opportunity of the lecture to push for naming and shaming of sex offenders through the launch of a national sex offenders register which she assured will happen shortly.
In his opening remark, Ropo Sekoni, the Board Chair of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), organisers of the programme, mentioned that the lecture’s theme was topical given the insecurity that permeates the system.
The son of the celebrant, Olaokun Soyinka, thanked the WSCIJ on behalf of the family for the consistency that has brought the lecture to its 11th edition and its focus on promoting the culture of investigative reporting.
He observed that Soyinka’s struggle to hold power accountable and fight against impunity are still relevant today and admonished young people to draw the battle line between those who are prodemocracy and does who are not rather than between the young and the old.