• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Why we are not very confident that things will get better – Dikko-Kila


Ronnie Dikko-Kila, a popular Nollywood actress and entrepreneur, is also the chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Lagos State. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, she spoke on 25 years of democracy in Nigeria, stating that there was little to celebrate and that Nigerians have not had the dividend of democracy. She also disclosed why there is decline in the number of women in elective positions, also warning that the country urgently needs a new constitution to overcome its challenges. Excerpts:

It is 25 years of democracy for Nigeria, how do you assess the journey so far?

You would agree with me, that we have had 25 years of uninterrupted democracy, but there is nothing to celebrate. Things are actually getting worse; I pray it turns out good because they said after this hardship things would get better. But then we have had stories like that in the past. So, we are not very confident that things will get better. But then we want to bring God to it, to give us wisdom to direct, because people are speaking out and I want to believe that those in positions of authority are hearing what people are complaining about. I pray that with God’s intervention that would help them to do the right thing, because our problem in Nigeria today as always been poor leadership. 25 years uninterrupted years is something to celebrate but then the dividends are not there, today we are using it to commemorate the efforts that the late Abiola put into it, when he was deprived of his mandate. We are not where we should be, there is hardship in the land. Things are out of reach of the average Nigerians.

Read also: NNPP tells Tinubu to review policies to check hardship

For many Nigerians, June 12 is also synonymous with free and fair elections. Over the years, the country has been unsuccessful in conducting polls. What is your take on that?

Abiola’s election was seen as the freest and fairest we had then, but today you find out that people don’t want to vote because their votes don’t count. People are voting along the line of religion, some people ethnicity, and some people tribal. It is only in Abiola’s time that people came out massively and not taking religion, ethnicity into consideration. But today, people are still upset that the elections are rigged. I don’t think after Abiola’s election there has been any other election that has been free and fair in Nigeria.

What has happened to our electoral system?

It has been hijacked by some people; some people even say that the highest bidder takes it all. Even in Lagos here in 2023 people were not allowed to vote; they were beaten up. Since after Abiola’s time we have not experienced free and fair elections. They are always going to tribunal, even the governorship election people are complaining, crying that they were disenfranchised. Some would say that their votes did not count and it was rigged. We are not where we would be yet our elections are compromised.

What is your assessment of the successive administrations that Nigeria had since 1999?

Maybe, if Musa Yar’Adua had not passed on, maybe we would be able to boast of a good leader and president; you know our government is often characterised with corruption, looting of public funds. We are not there yet, but I pray that this present government gets it right. I know the President knows how to pick the right people and workforce to work with him. So far, we are not impressed with him.

What is your assessment of Bola Tinubu’s administration one year into office?

Tinubu administration policies seem promising but progress has been so slow. The performance of the government in this one year has not been impressive; we can forgive them and excuse them for it, hoping that they will do better over time. Let’s call it one year of grace. The reality on ground is that inflation is on the high side. There is deep seated anxiety in the land. The majority of our people are wallowing in poverty. One is compelled to question the meaning of democracy, which we all know as the government of the people by the people for the people.

25 years of unbroken democracy, we are yet to satisfactorily enjoy the dividends of democracy.

My brother, considering the state of affairs in Nigeria today, I am sure you will agree with me that we are not practicing true democracy. Our people are hungry and angry. Is it the oil subsidy removal and the means of implementation we want to talk about; some will argue that there was no subsidy, etc. Is it the minimum wage we should talk about? We are not there yet.

How are you settling in as the chairman of the NNPP in Lagos?

I am settling in gradually, especially now that the judicial tussle over ownership of the party is over. As known constitutionally, a political party cannot be owned by an individual but a group of people. Our Focus now is to build a formidable party. We need to embark on a membership drive by creating awareness. I have so much work to do. One of them is bringing all the aggrieved fractions together to ensure harmony.

NNPP is seen as a regional party, what plans do you have for membership drive in Lagos?

NNPP is a national party that has a wide spread covering the 36 States plus the FCT. The last election proved that NNPP has a lot to offer based on the performance of the only state under NNPP other states in subsequent elections will be captured.

Most people confuse it as regional because of the way the Kwankwasia Movement which originated in the North overwhelmed the party as a result of the presence of our national leader, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who brought the party to prominence. However, this is not to say that there are no other groups like e.g TNM (The National Movement) within the party.

Our national leader and the NWC are Nigerians known to be proactive and have never been judged incompetent in leadership and never been judged as tribe men.

We have offices across the 36 states plus the FCT as mentioned and our contact and mobilisation team is very actively involved with the State’s bodies and other groups.

We will keep moving in to educate the people on the activities of NNPP on what the party stands for, the ideology; equity and fairness towards achieving a new Nigeria.

What is your take on calls for a single term of six years for the president and governors?

It’s not a bad proposal. Any government knowing it has a six-year single term only will consider putting in their best. The problem in our country has always been that of poor leadership.

If they fail in providing the dividends of democracy within the specified six-year single term then we nurse no fear of them returning because six years is a long time and enough for any government to deliver the dividends of democracy.

A situation where you spend four years, mess up, rig elections because you are in power and come back another four years has not improved the lives of our people. That which you want to achieve in government in eight years can be achieved in a six-year single term.

Nigerians have called for electoral reforms ahead of the 2027 general election. What is your take?

There is need for electoral reforms. The 1999 Constitution needs to be reviewed; it is not helping our people to enjoy the true essence of democracy. In Nigeria we play very dirty politics. Our people are increasingly divided along party, religious and ethnic lines. The cloud is so dark. Our elections are not free and fair. The only truly democratic elections we had was that of the late MKO Abiola in 1993. When it comes to election matters the reforms should embrace the will of the people to ensure credible elections at all levels.

INEC should strive to be fair, by not compromising the integrity of the commission.

I often argue that no politician should be sworn into office even after the certificate of return was given to a supposed winner by INEC if there is an on- going case because a petition has been filed at the tribunal. The rule of law must be applied. Nobody of voting age should be disenfranchised and the violence during elections should be discouraged.

We have seen a decline in the number of women in elective positions in recent years, what is your take?

Let’s focus on some of the reasons for the decline. One major reason is that our government policy on women inclusion in Politics is at variance with the Beijing Conference of 1995 which championed the notion of equality of women and men in law and in practice.

I often argue that in Nigerian politics, women are not encouraged to run, not to talk of occupying top elective positions; most times due to traditional/cultural beliefs. Think about it, will a woman in this time and age in Nigeria be supported to become the president? Even though Nigerian women are excelling in the private sector, serving at top level positions globally?

Kudos to our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo who implemented say 35percent inclusion of women in governance.