The Nigerian Workforce Strategy and Enlightenment Centre (NIWOSEC) has urged Nigerians to imbibe patriotism and rise above religious sentiments and tribalism.
Dr David Ehindero, the Executive Director and Lead Strategist of the centre, made the appeal as Nigeria marked 21 years of democracy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had declared June 12, each year, as Democracy Day.
Ehindero said in a statement on Saturday in Ilorin that only patriotism rather than religion and tribe would sustain and grow the nation’s democracy.
He said that democracy, being the best form of government, offered a common platform where citizens had rights to make the choice of their representatives in government.
On the need to sustain the nation’s democracy, Ehindero said that bad leadership negated patriotism, and often culminated into erosion of national values.
“So I want to earnestly call on building ideology around the nationhood, Nigeria.
“Nationhood is to perceive ourselves beyond religion, politics and ethnicity. We should consider ourselves as Nigerians before other elements,” he urged.
He explained that for June 12 to have true meaning and worth celebrating, Nigerians must imbibe patriotism either as leaders or followers.
“As this year’s celebration is gone, I want to call for a total restart of our nationhood and rejigging of our value system to give dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
“According to Abraham Lincoln “No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent.
“Democracy as a form of government, gives regard to the opinion and conscience of the people. It instills a sense of belonging to all and sundry in the process of representative government.
“June 12, 1993 election, a warmly accepted freest and fairest election so far in the history of our nation, was held without religious sentiment and tribal walls. It was indeed devoid of violence and intimidation.
“The ‘democracy’ of today is a total departure from what we had then. Ironically, our democracy is being ‘militarised’.
“The military conducted the adjudged freest election of the June 12, 1993, while our so-called civilian government are today conducting ‘militarised’ elections in Nigeria.
“Recent elections are not only militarised, they are also characterised by terrorisation, intimidation, non-transparency, rigging, bribery, inducements and killings.
“Military are not trained to govern but to protect. I agree with the maxim that the worst democracy is better than any military rule,” he stated.
He condemned the manner that most Nigerian politicians sought power at all cost and embezzle funds meant for development.
“When we check the history of election conducted in Nigeria since 1999 till date, desperation of politicians is paranormal; obviously revealing that there is a hidden motive behind their sugary and corrosive manifestoes, and the conduct of election, without mincing words, has grown worse.
“Election day should be a day to express personal opinion, carnival like atmosphere, without fear or intimidation, but now, it has become a war zone, where eligible voters prefer to protect their lives by staying at home and the peaceful atmosphere of the home is jettisoned by war on our streets.
“It is on this note that I will say that celebrating ‘Democracy Day’ today does not show its worth, and no thanks to some bad politicians in Nigeria.
“Bad leadership has jettisoned the intent of real leadership that is supposed to be absolutely craving for service, responsibility and transparency to the nation, has turned into a business venture to acquire and amass wealth corruptly,” he said.
He said it was disheartening that this was an era where young peoples’ mind are already poisoned and eagerly waiting to have their own share of ‘the cake’ at all cost.
“Our National Anthem, National Pledge and Symbols have no meaning anymore. They are now seen as mere social rituals.
“Any government, after election, is supposed to stop playing politics and concentrate on delivering good governance,” Ehindero said.