• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Poverty is greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy, says Dogara

Poverty is greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy, says Dogara

…Says majority of citizens lack the means to pursue happiness

Yakubu Dogara, former speaker of the House of Representatives, has said that democracy was not working for the majority of Nigerians and that the greatest threat to it (democracy) in the country was high-level poverty.

Dogara, who was in the House for 16 years, representing Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa-Balewa Federal Constituency, in Bauchi State, spoke at an event in Lagos on the topic, “Democracy and the free market economy”, as part of activities to mark this year’s Democracy Day.

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“Our democracy is not working for the majority of our citizens. This is because, although they are alive and free, they lack the means with which to pursue happiness.”

He added: “Poverty is a greater threat to a democracy than weak institutions because it deprives poor citizens not only of their political voice but prevents them from holding their government accountable. It shatters public trust in the emerging institutions of democracy.”

The former speaker observed that the challenge before Nigerians was how to utilise their democratic rights to build an all-inclusive economy that empowers an overwhelming majority of the people to unleash their full potential.

“We must never stop putting pressure on the government to set clear targets and monitor progress when it comes to addressing the causes of poverty because poverty, though experienced by individuals, is created by parlous systems that fail to protect citizens’ rights to a decent standard of living.”

“After 40 years of policy implementation and effective governance, China has successfully lifted 770 million of its citizens out of poverty, and India, too, has revealed that nearly 250 million people have been lifted out of multidimensional poverty. With purposeful leadership, Nigeria can achieve that.

“Nigeria is in a demographic transition with a major problem which is that our population curve has far outpaced the hope and opportunity curve leaving us with no option but to expand our economic space if we must save our democracy. Unfortunately, the “youth bulge” has turned out not a blessing as it is only producing disaffected rebels instead of productive labourers. There is no Nigerian out there that doesn’t want change, but the problems are so consuming and absorbing that we fail to articulate what changes we need to adopt.”

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He decried that more than two decades of unbroken democracy has not led to adequate security of lives and properties of Nigerian citizens, quality infrastructure, decent employment, access to qualitative education, health, shelter, food and water nor afforded the generality of people adequate standard of living.

“These are the economic and social rights that enable people to live with dignity and participate fully in society,” the former lawmaker said.