By NBF News

Tasks leaders on true democracy
THE Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) has condemned what it considered as the alarming state of insecurity and the decay of infrastructure in the country.

The group, which accused the Federal Government of practising civilian rule rather than democracy, however, tasked the ruling class to practise true democracy.

The National Coordinator of CODER, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, stated this at the 2011 yearly luncheon of the Institute of Strategic Management, Nigeria (ISMN), held in Lagos.

Opadokun, who was a guest lecturer at the event, said Nigeria had had an unbroken record of over 11 years of civilian administration, adding that political operators in the country had by their conduct directly or indirectly subverted the necessary popularisation of democracy and its culture.

He lamented the state of insecurity, infrastructure and others in the country despite the 'unprecedented earnings from petroleum.'

He said: 'Given the volume of resources available to Nigeria since 1999 in particular, the gross deficiency of state of social services, the embarrassing level of decay of the national infrastructure, the glaring state of insecurity of lives and property and the disturbing status of graft and corruption in public office constitute acts that contrast sharply with the expectation of the voters and electorate from those they supposedly voted for to utilise government machinery to make life better for them.'  The theme of the event was, 'Strategising for Peaceful and Credible Elections in 2011.'

According to the human rights activist, if the country is to have credible elections in the April polls, Nigerians must ensure that they take part in the voters' registration exercise and vote on Election Day as well as defend their votes on that day.

Opadokun advised Nigerians to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the 'Modified Open Secret Ballot System,' which, according to him, has the best remedy against ballot box and ballot paper snatching and stuffing, ghost thumb-printing and various other manipulations.

In an interview with journalists at the event, the President and Chairman-In-Council, ISMN, Maj.-Gen. Segun Ajiborisha, lamented the lack of internal democracy in political parties, stating that it has resulted in the 'do or die' politics in Nigeria.

'From what I have read in the media, and all reports, including grievances of people, I am getting worried. In the sense that, we are not allowing internal democracy to take place in our parties. Parties should allow internal democracy. The benefits of political office are so much now that one cannot comprehend. The posts are so lucrative. We read that somebody is getting N15 million a month, and a councillor is getting about N600, 000. That is why we have all this do or die affair. We need to put a good structural foundation into place so that the post can be made less attractive,' he said.

Ajiborisha said that the voters' registration exercise is the biggest challenge in the 2011 elections, saying that it was a major determinant in delivering credible elections.

'The greatest challenge in the forthcoming general elections is what we have started, which is getting a very credible and widely acceptable voters' register and once we can do that and make sure that all other machineries being put in place for the main election is very credible and transparent, and the people that will work there should not support any body. Ghana has done it, most advanced countries have done it, why can we not do it?' he said.