Public office holders in Nigeria have been urged to work hard to restore the confidence and trust of the populace in government.
The charge was given on Sunday by the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Senator Ike Nwachukwu in a speech he delivered at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Washington DC United States.
He expressed concern over the current state of disconnect between government and the people in virtually every African country including Nigeria, stressing that this situation must be overcome.
The former Minister of External Affairs wants political leaders to know that democracy cannot survive in an environment of distrust, suspicion and general apathy.
Nwachukwu called for the review of current economic policies, which tend to depend on petroleum resources as the major source of national revenue. “Strenuous and determined effort must be made to restore agriculture to its prime position, especially given the fact that about seventy percent (70%) of our population depend on it,” he emphasized.
He believes that massive investments in agriculture will provide a major platform for wealth creation for the vast majority of Nigerians who are so devastated by poverty.
According to him, it is for reason of abject poverty that the mass of Nigerians do not have the courage and resources to defend democracy even when threatened and manipulated by blundering politicians.
Commenting on the plight of Nigerian women, General Nwachukwu noted that empowering them, including the youths should be considered as investment in democratic consolidation and sustainability.
Nwachukwu however commended the current emphasis on provision of infrastructure in Nigeria. He observed that investment in human capacity development through education and related agencies yields greater dividends for the nation’s democratization process, especially in the long run.
He also called for improvement in the quality, disposition and general conduct of the political class. In his view, no nation can boost of true democracy without sincere democrats as Nigeria’s experience since 1999 has tended to reveal.
He was quick to advise political parties in Nigeria to institutionalize internal democratic practices in their operations, especially in the nomination of candidates to run for elective offices.
Summarily put, General Nwachukwu advocated the enthronement and institutionalization of a political culture, which emphasizes equity, social justice, fairness, honesty, accountability, integrity, inclusiveness, women and youth empowerment, and equality of all before the law regardless of social and political status, or ethnic and religious affiliation.
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The John Hopkins University is a world-renowned graduate school devoted to the study of international relations. The African Studies programme at SAIS focuses on key political, economic and social questions in contemporary Africa.