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Bishop Kukah: Democracy In Nigeria Still Overshadowed By Military Mentality

The outspoken cleric barred his mind when speaking as a panelist during an event put together by YIAGA Africa on electoral reforms on Tuesday. He revealed that the country carried over some elements of the military rule into the present democratic dispensation. 

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese has disclosed that Nigeria’s long years of military rule has continued to overshadow the country’s current democratic dispensation.  It was his conviction that Nigeria is still far from fully transitioning to a democracy.

The outspoken cleric barred his mind when speaking as a panelist during an event put together by YIAGA Africa on electoral reforms on Tuesday. He revealed that the country carried over some elements of the military rule into the present democratic dispensation.

He opined that there is a need for reappraisal within political parties in order to promote service to the people instead of the promotion of narrow, parochial interests.

In his words, “we are mistaken in assuming that we have had a transition from dictatorship to democracy. We still haven’t. This is why we are showing all kinds of systemic malfunctioning.”

“When we talk about political parties, we have assumptions. But the truth of the matter is that in our own case in Nigeria, we have the greed and the political interest.

“Clearly what we have in Nigeria, as we have seen with the occasional malfunctioning of the system midway through the journey, manifested in the quarrelsome nature of the politics and the way the judiciary has now come to undermine the wishes of the people, suggests very clearly that we have very serious issues with party discipline largely because what we call political parties in Nigeria are mere contraptions purely constructed to help to ferry the ambitions of people — a good number of who are really and truly ill-prepared for the discipline that politics and political party formations require.”

He called for consistency in maintaining the governance structure, and also proffered two measures to address challenges affecting the country’s political process.

“The first is for us to pay attention to the future. That is why this conversation is very important; that a new generation of Nigerians with a different view about our country, with a different set of skills and discipline, must begin to see politics in a much more noble form,” he said.

“The second point is for the judiciary itself to begin to think more in focusing on compelling politics and politicians to fine-tune their articles of discipline internally.”

The town hall meeting is being put together by Yiaga Africa in conjunction with coalition of other civil society groups.

Samson Itodo, the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, revealed that the town hall meetings was organized within the framework of the EU Support to democratic governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN).  The EU-SDGN has the following organisations as partners: the Albino Foundation, International Press Centre (IPC), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), CLEEN Foundation, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

Others involved in the planning of the town hall meeting are the Westminster Foundation, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), BBC Media Action, Institute of Media and Society (IMS) and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).

The planners have listed areas of expected electoral reforms before the next general elections and other scheduled elections.

Elections in Nigeria have consistently been marred by violence, administrative irregularities and outright manipulation of results by several parties.

The proposed electoral reforms would hopefully address the lapses identified from previous election.