By Fortune Abang
Abuja, Sept. 15, 2018
The British High Commission to Nigeria has restated its commitment to spend 47. 4 million pounds on Deepening Democracy in Nigeria Programme Phase 2 (DDiN2).
Mrs Harriet Thompson, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission to Nigeria, gave the assurance in her address at the interactive session organised for journalists by the Commission in Abuja on Friday.
She said that the event was part of the Commission’s activity to commemorate the 2018 International Day of Democracy on the theme, “Democracy under strain: Solutions for a changing world.”
She said the first phase of DDiN was implemented in 2011 and that 33 million pounds out of the total amount had been disbursed in the second phase from 2014 to 2020.
According to her, DDiN is a funded programme under the Department for International Development (DFID) arm of the Commission geared toward supporting democratic governance around the world with focus on Nigeria.
Thompson said “democracy is key to development because it is a system whereby people can express their feelings on how they are being governed.
“The people of Nigeria know what they need and democracy creates such platform for them to be able to say what they want in terms of investment in basic amenities.
“We will ensure that people have the right to vote and be voted for, mobilise women, youths and people living with disability to exercise their franchise.
“We will also support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure conduct of credible elections in 2019,” she said, stressing that the British Government had no intention to influence the outcome of the forthcoming general elections and also did not have preference for any candidate, but to ensure credible elections.
The Head of DFID Nigeria, Mrs Debbie Palmas, said that DDiN2 was a six- year programme with strategic outcome to support growth of responsive electoral and democratic institutions.
She explained that DDiN2 would be focused on values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy.
She said there was a need to strengthen democracy and seek answers to challenges it faced.
According to her, the DDiN2 is to support well-prepared and well-administered national and state elections with measures in place for independent observation and to mitigate risks of violence.
Palmas said the project also aimed “To increase National Assembly’s capacity for responsiveness in law-making representation and oversight and to improve public participation in governance and electoral process, particularly women, youth and people living with disabilities.”
Earlier, Mr Dominic Williams, Political Counsellor of the Commission, commended Nigeria for achieving remarkable improvement in the transition of democratic administration from 1999 till date.
Williams said “one of the reasons we are focused on democracy in Nigeria is because it is an important aspect of British value.
“We believe that democracy is a value that we share with Nigeria and other members of the Commonwealth; it is part of the British foreign policy to defend democracy.
“There has been tremendous progress in the Nigeria’s democratic process, particularly the transition of power from incumbent president to an opposition party in 2015.”
He, however, urged the participants to play their roles effectively in the dissemination of factual information during the forthcoming electoral process to build on the success recorded in previous elections.
International Day of Democracy is often celebrated on September 15 and globally it provides opportunities to seek answers to economic and political inequalities that affect democracy.