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Friday, 28 March 2014

Democracy should be people-based, says Ogiemwonyi Ken Edokpayi

It has again been asserted that the rule of law and the twin principles of fairness and justice were truly the only rationalizing benchmark upon which the people’s development and growth could be measured and assessed.
            Making the assertion in a chat with The Navigator recently, a former Minister of State for Works, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Engr. (Dr.) Chris Ogiemwonyi, FNSE, noted that “several peoples and countries of the world have embraced democracy, which encompasses all of these principles of human management, because of its guaranteed freedom and social justice.”
            While remarking that democracy has continued “to fare better and better since its re-emergence on the political landscape of Nigeria since 1999,” Engr. (Dr.) Ogiemwonyi emphasized that unless a greater majority of Nigerians continued to show, not only a feeble interest, but also active and committed participation in the social engineering mechanism of civil governance, the full relevance of democracy and its expected messianic capabilities in positively impacting on the lives of the people, would remain a mirage.
              In his words, “democracy, as we know it, is a system of political governance that is wholly based on the people.  It is of the people, it is by the people and it is for the people.  So, if the people, therefore, do not show effective interest and participation in the operational activities of the system, then, it should be called by a different name altogether.”
            He expressed satisfaction with the growing increase in the number of Nigerians who are daily showing interest in politics and the art of governance, noting that “it should be the business of the people how those in government govern them.  It should be their business how those who they voted for, or who they elected into offices, are running the affairs of the state or nation on their behalf. 
“Democracy, as a system of government and politics, in its enlarged definition, should not be the exclusive preserve of a select few who may not mean well for the generality of the people.  Everyone must not only be seen to be involved, but they should really be in the thick of democratic activities, for there to be any meaningful and sustained change in their welfare.”
            He, therefore, challenged Nigerians, especially as the political events of the election year, 2015, continue to gather momentum, “to come out of their shells and take part in the on-going processes of voters’ registration and sensitization.  It is the responsibility of everyone to speak to encourage others to participate.  Some people say politics is a dirty game; yes, it will remain dirty if we leave the game in the hands of charlatans and mediocres; when more refined persons continue to find their ways into politics, it only would get better, because what you would expect from such a system would equally be more refined and more rewarding.”
            Outside of the call for the people to show greater interest in the governance and politics of their country, state and locality, Dr. Ogiemwonyi, who retired a couple of years ago from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, after rising to the enviable position of Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production, equally demanded from those in government a more transparent and accountable attitude to the electorate, noting that “a responsible, people-oriented government which derived its mandate and credibility from the people, should, in turn, be transparent and accountable to them, for only then would the people’s trust and confidence in that government be more firm and gratifying.”
            On the on-going national conference, Engr. (Dr.) Ogiemwonyi maintained that it was a welcome development as it would afford ethnic nationalities and other interest groups in the country to brainstorm on problems that had clogged their development in the past with a view to finding lasting solutions, insisting that “the convocation of such a conference was long overdue.”

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