–As IPAC seeks govs assistance to set up African Democratic Institute
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
Nigeria’s Governors Forum, NGF, has promised to promote electoral integrity and ensures that government delivers its promises to Nigerians.
Chairman of the NGF and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi stated this when he received the leadership of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC led by its National Chairman, Engr. Yabagi Sani in Abuja.
This is as IPAC has solicited the collaboration of the 36 governors in the establishment of the African Democratic Institute, ADI in Abuja.
The establishment of ADI, Sani said was aimed at having a centre for the teaching of universal philosophy and practice of democracy.
He also explained that the proposed institute is intended to attract scholars, researchers, politicians and workers in democracy-related institutions and agencies.
Welcoming his guests at the NGF headquarters in Abuja, Governor Fayemi said, “I’m sure you know that even though governors are products of political parties, the Nigeria Governors Forum is not a partisan Association.
“We are not driven by the agenda of any political party, but we are driven more by the interest of the state that we govern and our interests as an association of governors.
“So my primary responsibility in this role that they have elected me to is really to promote, to defend and to protect the interest of office, the onerous task underlining on their duty as elected officers of states, in order for us to successfully do that, we also, as an institution, have established a range of linkages and partnerships with agencies, as well as associations, including
both development agencies, that impinge on the delivery of responsibilities to our States.
“So, receiving IPAC falls within that purview of our organisation, the Nigeria Governors Forum. I’m happy you are interested in using IPAC as a vehicle for the institutional deepening of our democratic project. You talked about establishing an Institute in Abuja for training, research, for promoting the values of democracy in Nigeria.
“In a number of areas, focusing on government, the Nigerian Governors Forum, as a body provides a whole range of research system to institutions as well, even though we have not done any work on political parties training or party development, but listening to you, I don’t think we are averse to supporting such initiatives, as long as it is not one-sided, or driven by any political agenda.
“If it is broadly speaking, focusing on deepening the Democratic project, stemming the reversal that we have seen in some countries, particularly in our sub-region
“We will do all we can do to ensure that democracy thrives in our climes, we must do all we can in that respect, to promote electoral integrity, to also ensure that government deliver in its promises to Nigerians, and these are principles that I think you had espoused in your presentation.
“Once you are in this club, we don’t see you as belonging to a political party but as a member of the NGF. We basically promote and protect democracy and we do that in individual states and also in our collective commitment to democracy.
“We will do our best as a body to support IPAC to deliver in its tasks. We know that this is a crucial and penultimate year to the pre-election year, you have been acting in a couple of states like mine and IPAC will have a lot of roles to play.”
Speaking earlier, the IPAC Chairman, Engr. Sani said the meeting can be regarded as one between two critical associations or, pressure groups working towards the common goal of growth and deepening of the culture and practice of democratic governance in the country.
He said the IPAC is a congregation of all the registered political parties that promote harmony and amity among the political parties and between all the arms of government and democratic institutions.
“The synergy between the NGF and IPAC should, therefore, be seen as an effective mechanism for the enhancement and actualization of their mutual goals of strengthening the roots of enduring democracy in our society.
Our collective striving for the survival of democracy is, a heroic endeavour against the backdrop of our history that is replete with the sad experiences of truncated Republic with attendant incursions and dictatorships of military regimes,” he said.
He further said, “it is instructive that even as we have come on the road of democracy for an unprecedented period of twenty-three years, all hands must yet be on deck. We should not rest on our oars by taking it for granted that, we have crossed the Jordan River and we cannot, therefore, go back to the old road that we traversed.
“In other words, vigilance and relentless efforts must be continuously exerted by the present generation of Nigerians who have a generational responsibility of being pioneers and builders of democracy.”
The IPAC boss noted that the trending global thrust in the practice of democracy transcends the rituals of elections through the ballot box, the observance of the rule of law, fundamental human rights and the presence of other practices traditionally regarded as the hallmark of democracy.
“This is informed by the fact that there can be no guarantee for the survival of any system of government by whatever name if the system is not constructed on the foundation of the security of lives and property where poverty is prevalent,” he said.
He said that IPAC, established about eleven years ago, has recorded major milestones in the fulfilment of its mandate of promoting harmony within and among political parties.
According to him, “It has engaged in the erection of bridges of understanding, and collaboration between the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
“The Council has taken Nigeria to the centre-stage of the world, by projecting and portraying the image of the country as a budding and promising democracy in the global comity of democratic nations.
“Consequently, IPAC is fast gaining international recognition as the umbrella body for all pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organizations, local and global donor agencies and countries that are involved in the advancement of democratic institutions in the world.
“As a result, there has been greater expectations in the responsibilities of IPAC translating to imply greater requirements for resources to meet up with its expanding obligations and expenditure.
“Your Excellencies, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that Nigeria is today virtually regarded as the hub and radiating point of democracy on the African continent.
“The present leadership of IPAC is positioning the platform to live up to its responsibility of Nigeria in fostering and entrenching democracy in Africa. In this regard, we have mapped out new strategies and programmes such as increasing the level of interface between IPAC and advanced democratic nations, institutions and agencies that have been assisting in the growth of our democracy in the past twenty-three years.
“Among another practical step that we are putting in place, IPAC has embarked on a project of establishing a continent-wide democracy institute under the name, the African Democratic Institute, ADI, based in Abuja.
With the aim of having a centre for the teaching of universal philosophy and practice of democracy, the proposed institute is intended to attract scholars, researchers, politicians and workers in democracy-related institutions and agencies.
“The curricular will be structured to impart the teaching of the universal tenets of democracy, in the context of the peculiar African characteristics, culture and history.
“This lofty project is obviously, one that IPAC will be looking up to the collaboration and support of all strategic stakeholders among which, I must point out, the Nigerian Governors Forum will be especially looked upon for needed material and moral assistance.”
Engr. Sani appealed to the governors to consider assisting the strengthening of the presence and operation of chapters of IPAC in their respective states with regard to the provision of office accommodation, logistics among other material requirements to make for their vibrant and effective operation.
“This is in view of the fact that the existence of robust and functional branches of IPAC in the states will go a long way in promoting harmony among the political parties at that level while also, boosting the participation of citizens at the grassroots in the practice and processes of democracy,” he said.
He said that the task of building and deepening the culture and practice of democracy is certainly cumbersome and demanding but, “it is one responsibility that history has made incumbent on the present generation of Nigerians.
“This responsibility we must all endeavour and sacrifice to accomplish as a safeguard for security, peace, unity, stability and survival of our beloved country as one corporate, virile and united entity.”