Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, on Tuesday said strong institutions were imperative for the growth of democracy.Kukah made the statement while delivering the keynote address at the Nigerian Tribune 70th anniversary symposium in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the symposium where a new logo of the newspaper was unveiled was “Electoral Integrity, Legitimacy of Democratic Institution and Good Governance.”
Kukah emphasised that strong and credible institutions and a reliable electoral process were imperative for democracy and good governance.The Bishop decried absence of what he called real political parties to deliver the goods in the country.
He said the present parties lacked the right ideology to contribute meaningfully to the growth of democracy, as they all served as mere platforms for politicians to seek power.
“What can one say about the state of our Democratic Institutions, our Political Parties, and our Electoral Processes?
“All these notions are closely knit together and one cannot stand without the other.
“For example, Political Parties are platforms by which politicians canvass for votes and sell their ideologies to the people.
“However, how do we assess our Political Parties today?
“We all know that what we call Parties in Nigeria today cannot meet the standards of real Parties elsewhere.“Every Presidential election sees Parties change their name or candidates change their platform.
“Take the two Presidential candidates of the PDP and the APC for example.“Close your eyes and see how many Parties they have campaigned under: PDP, ANPP, CPC, ACN, APC and now PDP.
“Military rule made things even worse. Imagine if a Hotel, a Television Station, a Newspaper or a Church changed their name every so often. What would you make of it?
“What makes democracy beautiful is that Parties can be platforms for managing diversity.
“Ideally, a Party should serve as a platform for men and women of diverse ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds to come together and pursue a common set of goals.
“The inherent competitive nature of Democracy should ideally provide platforms for encouraging losers to work harder and return to compete another.
“The weak foundation of politics in Africa leaves us too vulnerable with winners often endangering the future of the process.
“Often, these weak foundations cannot carry the egos and megalomaniac tendencies of those who wish to use power to enrich themselves and their friends or offer opportunities for a narrow group,” he said.
According to him, this creates tensions, makes politics chaotic and people impatient.“When power sharing is so skewed, favoritism divides the parties and the people, and development becomes impossible.
“Petty nationalisms emerge and centrifugal forces take centre stage.“As we can see in our situation today, alienation now breeds frustration and nihilism. This kind of politics does not unite people. It leaves no room for freedom or development,” he said.
Kukah said absence of the rIght leadership had stifled the delivery of good governance.He said the narrative would change if citizens decided to vote leaders with capacity rather than considering parochial things like piety, faith and tribe.
The Bishop said the power to bring about the needed change lay with the people, urging citizens to use the opportunity of the general elections to elect leaders with the capacity to govern.