Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, have urged the citizens to ensure a more vibrant, constructive and patriotic citizen participation in the governance.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that one of the key reasons for the non-realisation of the dreams of the founding fathers, who fought for the nation’s independence from the colonial government, was because the citizens failed to seize control of the fortunes and future of the country.
He said the citizens allowed sentiments to determine the choice of leaders and what national objectives should entail.
The Senate president said: “At this point when democracy has come to stay in Nigeria, all Nigerians should use the occasion of the 58th Independence Anniversary to redefine what should constitute the Nigerian dream, rally round that dream, support leaders who are capable and competent to realise that dream.
“Citizens should stop abandoning politics and political choices to politicians and manipulative elements, who invoke only religious, ethnic and geo-political sentiments to impose leadership who are only supported for the purpose of serving the interests of those who put them in office.”
According to him, “Nigerians should re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of defining their personal interests in line with how it helps the realisation of national objectives. Our national objectives should simply be to build a united, peaceful, economically strong and internationally respected country, with robust military, well-motivated work-force, ambitious youth and fulfilled citizens.
“These ideals are what we should rally our people around. The people should not allow government officials and politicians to continue manipulating them in pursuit of narrow interests. It is only manipulation that will allow voters to ignore the competence, experience, suitability and temperament of aspirants for public office and rather focus on where he comes from, how he worships his God and how much he is ready to dole out.”
Ekweremadu, on his part, said only free, fair and credible elections could secure Nigeria’s democracy and guarantee the much-needed good governance that would restore her to the pinnacle of glory.
He described a rigged election as a “coup by other means” against the will of the people and should have no place in a democracy.
The deputy Senate president, in his goodwill message to Nigerians, said: “As we have always known, Nigeria is one of the most endowed nations on earth, but has not lived up to the promises she held at independence.
“For our nation to make progress, our democracy must flourish. And for our democracy to flourish, the people should be at liberty to elect leaders with the requisite character, knowledge, and pedigree, to turn the fortunes of the country around.
“Importantly, the government, stakeholders, and all institutions of democracy, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies, must respect and uphold the right of the people to exercise this franchise in a free, fair, credible, transparent, and peaceful atmosphere.”