Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday made a case for a more inclusive political process that would lead to greater involvement of women and the youth at all levels of leadership in the country.
Dr Fayemi who delivered a paper at the Daily Trust Dialogue: Twenty Years of Democratisation in Nigeria: Strengths, weaknesses and Opportunities in Abuja, also defended the establishment of the Southwest security outfit, code –named Amotekun, saying it is in line with community policing, or multi-layered policing, which is very effective in safety and crime prevention..
Other speakers at the one-day dialogue were former Vice President, Arc Namadi Sambo, who was chairman of the event; former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima and Chair, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Hon Lynda Ikpeazu. Other dignitaries include: former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido; former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah; former Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema and former National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie- Oyegun among others.
Fayemi who insisted that the police authorities was involved in the setting up the Amotekun security outfit, said the promoters of the project- south west governors- had made it clear that it was in response to the security challenge in the zone and was designed to complement efforts of the established security agencies.
He, however, said that current debate about the legality/ desirability or otherwise of the security outfit is a healthy national conversation about how to make Nigeria safer and our people more secured.
According to Dr Fayemi, “The Amotekun vision is a logical end product of President Buhari’s compelling vision on community policing and bottom-up approach to security sector governance across the length and breadth of the country.
“Far from being a competitor with the existing national security platforms, it aims to complement them in the areas of neighbourhood watch, information and intelligence gathering, detection of early warning signs and engaging in early response in a pro-active manner, apart from acting as liaison between the conventional security outfits and the local population.
“For those who are familiar with the mechanism of security sector reforms and transformation in democratising politics, they will readily appreciate the need for a multi-faceted, multi-layered and multi-dimensional approaches to national policing and maintenance of law and order. Indeed apart from strengthening the operational and administrative capacity of security institutions and the training and retraining of security agents, the other vital component of this paradigm shift in national security calculus is the direct, logical, coherent and sequential involvement of local population and grassroots governance in national security and crime prevention.
“It is in recognition of the above that the Amotekun model emerged”, Fayemi said.
Speaking on the topic of the forum, Fayemi who is Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), said the country had indeed made some significant progress in the last 20 years, even as he gave some knocks to cynics who are of the opinion that nothing has worked in the country’s 20 years of democracy.
He said: “The notion that nothing has changed since 1999 and that things have in fact grown worse is cynical, misleading and self –defeating. They are also discouraging to many conscientious and patriotic Nigerians in public service , private sector and civil society who have committed themselves to rebuilding the Nigerian nation”.
He however advocated a more inclusive political process that would see more women and youth take on more significant roles in the polity. This, according to him has to be dealt with at electoral principle level than electoral contest level.
The Ekiti State Governor, who noted that democracy is a permanent work in progress that requires re appraisals from time to time, said the country cannot enjoy the changes its citizens are clamouring for except through a national conversation held for that purpose of evaluating the polity.
“For example, the number of women elected to the National Assembly has continued to witness a progressive decline. In the Senate, three women were elected in 1999 as against 106 men; in 2003, four women were elected as against 105 women; in 2007 eight women were elected as against 101 men; in 2011 there were seven women as against 102 men; in 2015 we had eight women against 101 men and in 2019 we had eight women to 101 men women have never had up to 10 per cent representation in the National Assembly.
“Today, there are only 40 women legislators in all the houses of assembly nationwide. This kind of disequilibrium cannot be solved by the current model of representation. We not only need to better women inclusion in leadership, we also need to have a gender agenda fir the decade.
“In same vein, in spite of the passage of the Not-too-young bill into law, this has not led to increase in the number of young people getting elected. Yet, the median age in the country is 17 and 65 per cent of our population is under 30. Some have even suggested that there were more youths in elective positions prior to the passage of the law. This shows that the problem is hardly that of legislation as much as it is about systems and structures. Of course we have issues of lack of representation among people with disability too and even many minority communities. This inadequacy in the system must be redressed in this decade.
“The fundamental restructuring of Nigeria will address key questions of political transformation, such issues as the question of constitutional governance, the fundamental precepts or authorizing principles of national togetherness, citizenship and the nationality question, the political economy of federalism.” He submitted.
Earlier, former Vice President Sambo had set the tone for the discussion in his address that dwelled on the progress made so far in the 20 years of democratisation, which got a global attention with the unprecedented 2015 electoral victory of an opposition party over an incumbent government.
Senator Shettima also evaluated the administrations of the five presidents that had presided over the affairs of the country in the last 20 years, insisting that each recorded some significant milestones, which were clear pointer to the fact the country’s democracy is progressing.
He however urged Nigerians to always put the country first, saying that this remains a sine qua non to a more prosperous democratic process.
Hon Ikpeazu urged Nigerians to always speak truth to power, and put the country first. This, she said remained a more enduring political philosophy that would ensure development.