By From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos
Pastor Peters Osawaru Omoragbon, candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the forthcoming September Governorship Election in Edo State, has berated Nigerian elites in both People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) describing them as the greatest enemies of Democracy in Nigeria.
This revelation was made in a press statement by Omoragbon on Saturday, August 15.
He said that the nation was relieved by the bold statement and ruling of the Appellate Court with competent jurisdiction and jurisprudence on August 10, 2020, when it overruled INEC on its illegal de-registration of 74 duly registered political parties in Nigeria including the National Conscience Party (NCP), the oldest political party today in Nigeria and the party that got the land-mark judgement of the Supreme Court of November 8 2002, making it possible for the registration by INEC of any political party in Nigeria in line with section 40 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.
Omoragbon stated that the judgement Eighteen years ago made it possible for parties like the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the political party of the current President of Nigeria that later merged with Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party, and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance to form the All Progressive Congress (APC) in February of 2013.
He spoke further “To the National Conscience Party and I, one of the Governorship candidates in the forthcoming elections in Edo State, the unanimous ruling as delivered by the President of the Appeal Court in Abuja, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem is highly commendable and demonstrated that Nigeria still have many judges of honour and integrity left in them, ready to keep the last hope of the common man alive. That is the Rule of Law and not the reign of tyranny and authoritarianism.”
Omoragbon disclosed that less than 24 hours of the ruling of the Court of Appeal, INEC through its officer-Mr Festus Okoye has indicated its desire to challenge that ruling at the Supreme Court. Without prejudice to INEC’s right to seek further judicial pronouncement on this matter is the question: Whose interest is being served by the actions or inactions of INEC in the current political dispensation? The answer is not far-fetched, the elites in both the APC and the PDP!”
He referred to Arowolo and Aluko, (2012), in their paper ‘Democracy, Political Participation and Good Governance in Nigeria which postulated that it is the responsibility of the elites to design policies of their own choice that hinged societal progress and stability as a function of the elites’ initiative. The paper, Omoragbo said, went further to identify that the civil unrest being experienced in Africa and Europe’s advancement cannot be separated from the activities of these elites in these areas.
“According to Arowolo and Aluko, (2012), ‘the fact that Nigeria is oscillating between democratic stagnancy and governance backwardness is reflexive of the elites’ pursuit of personal aggrandisement and promotion of egocentricism rather than altruistic policies, that are nationalistic and ‘peoplecentric’ in nature. Peoplecentric policies are policies that are people-centred, whose objective primarily is designed to engage the citizenry and serve the interest of the people and the community’, he quoted.
According Omoragbon, “From the foregoing, one can only deduce that, INEC do not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart but to serve its masters in APC and PDP both in the Presidency and the National Assembly that colluded together to insert the fraud called Section 225 into the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended. This is why INEC wants to engage in the waste of public funds characteristic of the APC and PDP government by initiating plans to challenge the ruling and like it was shamed in 2002 under their first chairman, Late Dr Abel Guobadia, so would it be disgraced again this year if it goes to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court knows that it is not about INEC and its paymasters in APC and PDP, but it is about the soul of this nation and democracy.” He stated that the world is tired of the continuous shameless behaviour and attitudes of our elites and their ‘selected’ members at the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly nationwide.
“May I remind INEC and the elites to take time to read and research evidence-based materials by Nigerian Scholars on good governance (I know they are too lazy for this) to realize what Arowolo and Aluko, (2012) alluded to, when they made it very clear that democracy is not all about elections. They said ‘‘Democracy here goes beyond opportunity of election.’ Omoragbon said that although, the centrality of elections to democratic process cannot be over-emphasised, democracy is not wholly centred on election. For democracy to evolve good governance, it must be liberal and participatory. In this sense, Liberal democracy entails not only free and fair elections in terms of voting administration, it requires a more comprehensive fairness of political competition embodied in the concept of a just and open competition.”
He asserted that in a liberal democracy, the electoral arena is open, and the playing field is reasonably level. Only in a free society with opportunity of free participation and respects for citizens’ rights can good governance be achieved. “True democracy places emphasis on freedom, and open competition, popular and meaningful participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability. Freedom to organise, freedom to protest anti-people policies and freedom to demand and assert citizens’ rights and interests, freedom of the press to report, investigate and expose government policies and actions without fear or favour.”
Quoting Diamond (2005), he said “Only in a climate of true political and civil freedom can a country achieve the absolute fundamental condition for development: responsible government, that is government that is committed to the advancement of the public good, rather than the private interests of its own officials and their families and their cronies”.
He said “My advice to INEC like I said on June 27, 2020 after my Party Primaries that made me a candidate, is very simple: Respect and obey the Appeal Court ruling as read by the President of the Appeal Court herself- Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, by reversing yourself on the illegal de-registration of 74 political parties. The argument that you have two appeal court’s rulings does not hold water; the latest ruling takes precedence over the former. That is common knowledge in law. Secondly, include my name and that of my Party on the list of candidates for the governorship election come September 19, 2020. Any deviation from this reality would mean that INEC will be conducting another election after September 2020, because we shall resort to the Courts to declare the election without us a nullity because of our illegal removal from the ballots. Every successive INEC or NEC Chairmen since 1979 have always been remembered for good or evil.
“Today, how many of them are being celebrated by Nigerians for their roles in all the elections they have conducted? Mahmood Yakubu, may I ask how you want to be remembered after your tenure as INEC Chairman? The world is watching. And we are not retreating nor are we going to surrender our struggle for a better Nigeria.