Former Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, says 20 years after the return of civilian government, the foundation of democracy remains shaky.
He called on political leaders in the country to continue to work for the sustenance of democracy.
Dickson, represented by his former Commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, spoke on Friday in Abuja at his lecture entitled: “Election, Good Governance and Democracy in Nigeria”.
He said democracy has suffered setbacks due to lack of respect for its institutions by those saddled with the responsibility to protect, preserve and defend its tenets.
Dickson said, “When the rule of law, freedom of speech and association is not allowed to thrive then there is danger. The three arms of government must have mutual respect for one another. No arm should be overbearing.
“Democracy is in decline in our country and we must all be worried. Of course the correlation between democracy and development has since been proven and we must take note of that.
“Without a sound democratic system, development will continue to elude us. Democracy as we know it in Nigeria is nothing but an aberration.
“I also think we should take a second look at our leadership recruitment process. Sure we need more good people in politics who can help to safeguard sound leadership and the important question of good governance.
“But that itself would come as a product of a functional democratic process. Imperative to give democracy a chance to flourish in Nigeria by keeping to its universal best practices.”
Dickson further lamented that elections in Nigeria has fallen short of expected standards
“Elections in Nigeria has been characterised by violence, high level rigging and manipulation. Vote buying and ballot box snatching are also part of the common features of our elections”, he noted.
“All of these are caused by the lucrative nature of political offices. Politicians acquire guns for youths and pay them some little money to disrupt elections and force their way through.
“The associated impediments above do not guarantee true democracy as government of the people by the people and for the people as most acceptable definition of democracy.
“This is because the people are not usually allowed to decide election results. In this situation, election as we have witnessed in recent times, does not truly serve its purpose and this is unfortunate.”