Abuja — If Nigerians continue to die in large numbers in the hands of bandits, militants, herders and farmers communal warriors, democracy as a system of government would be discredited, deputy editor-in-chief, Daily Trust Newspaper, Mahmud Jega said yesterday.
Speaking at a programme organised in remembrance of late Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Rahman and Prof Abubakar Momoh by Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), tagged: "Celebrating 20 Years Of Democracy In Nigeria," Mahmud said during the military era, insecurity and electoral fraud was enough to overthrow a government but added that democracy can only succeed in Nigeria with its internal successes.
"In the long run therefore, if we desire to have liberal democracy in Nigeria, we must prepare to do so on our own steam. Democracy in Nigeria can only be guaranteed by internal successes," Jega said.
He said the most urgent one in a democracy is to guarantee internal security adding that without which nothing matters.
"If Nigerians continue to die in large numbers in the hands of insurgents, armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits, militants, herders farmers, communal warriors, cultists, then democracy as a system of government will be discredited and no one will raise a finger to save it when it is threatened, " Jega added.
He said the high rate of unproductive population growth is making the country more poorer adding that the issue of vote buying can't be curtailed if the citizens are too poor.
Former minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili who corroborated Jega's statement, said Nigeria now must address the fragility of the institutions ,adding that strengthening values and stopping the killings is still very rudimental.
Ezekwesili who said the focus for democracy in the next 20 years should also go to the states, added that the attention is more at the centre while state governors continue to carry out undemocratic tendencies.
"People don't look at states but always quick at monitoring the activities at the federal level which make state governments to compromise.
"The principles of separation of powers don't work in states as it work at the federal level. Citizens participation is only seen at the federal level and not the states," she added.
"Political parties have become vehicles of transactions. They should be government in waiting. We started a journey. This is the longest journey of democracy by civilians but we must invest time and efforts to build democracy. Democracy and development must go together. Whether a nation is developed or not, it must ensure the security of life and property of its citizens. Insecurity is a grave danger," Ezekwesili said stating that more people are now sliding into poverty but warned that inequality will always collapse a nation.
Speaking earlier, the CDD director, Idayat Hassan said no matter how Nigerians may feel about democracy in the last 20 years, they must be happy in the midst of the challenges.
Idayat who said the country is redeemable, added that survey conducted by the centre shows that majority of Nigerians want improved economy and proper security.
According to her, older men from 60 years and above want improvement in the health sector.