President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, said that Nigeria has made significant progress over the last 20 years since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
Lawan stated this in a speech delivered at the 17th Edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Twenty Years of Democracy in Nigeria: Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities”, which held in Abuja.
The Senate President, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi (APC, Niger North).
He said: “Representation, appropriation and legislation are critical to good governance. These virtues are enshrined in a democratic set up, which we (Nigerians) have experienced in the last 20 years.”
“Nigeria has made substantial progress on all counts, in the evolution of our nation, via the democratic dispensation. We have been steady, determined and forward-looking.
“We have developed it to the point where we can look no other way, other than the democratic way. What we now have to do as we have been doing in the National Assembly are ways of perfecting the system.
“The point has been severally made that there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world but the hallmark of a good democracy is the ability to develop its processes and procedures.”
He identified the tools of democracy as the Constitution, political parties and electioneering process, saying “any democracy that seeks to grow must ensure that these sectors work seamlessly.”
Lawan stated that the legislature had put up strategies for the timely passage of the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill and the Bill for the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
His words: “The legislature is in tune with this realization and has set in motion machineries for the timely passage of the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill and the Bill for the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution.”
Among the dignitaries who attended the event are the former Vice President of Nigeria, Mohammed Namadi Sambo who Chaired the occasion; Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, and immediate Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun.
Fayemi made a case for a more inclusive political process that would lead to greater involvement of women and the youth at all levels of leadership in the country.
Speaking on the topic of the forum, Fayemi said the country has indeed made some significant progress in the last 20 years, even as he gave some knocks to cynics who are of the opinion that nothing has worked in the country’s 20 years of democracy.
He said the notion that nothing has changed since 1999 and that things have in fact grown worse is cynical, misleading and self –defeating. According to him, such a posture was also discouraging to many conscientious and patriotic Nigerians in public service, private sector and civil society who have committed themselves to rebuilding the Nigerian nation.
He, however, advocated for a more inclusive political process that would see more women and youths take on more significant roles in the polity. This, according to him has to be dealt with at electoral principle level than electoral contest level.