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Democracy Built On Ethnicity Does Not Endure — It’ll Continue To Wobble - GEJ

Former President Goodluck Jonathan says political leaders in Nigeria should not hand over a democracy built on the politics of region and religion to future generations.

Jonathan spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the public lecture to mark the country’s 25 years of democracy.

The former president spoke on ‘25 years of enduring democracy: Prospects for the future’, which was the theme of the public lecture.

Jonathan said the political class must lead by example and work with unity of purpose to ensure that Nigerians get the dividends of democracy.

democracy to yield its desired dividend, we, the political class and elites, must lead by example and work with unity of purpose to guarantee peace and social justice for the citizens,” the former president said.

“Our lifestyle must reflect that we are elected people. A situation where children of political officeholders go to parties and start spraying dollars is not the kind of democracy we want to witness in this country.

“We must work together despite our political differences, accommodate our diversity, and prioritise policies that will impact the lives of our citizens.

"As we project towards celebrating a golden jubilee of uninterrupted democracy, which I believe we will, we are celebrating 25 years, we will also celebrate the golden jubilee.”

Jonathan called for a model of democracy that is “more inclusive and reinforces social cohesion”.

“Let me say that we need to come up with a model of democratic practice that will be more inclusive and reinforce social cohesion,” he said.

“The zero sort of kind of politics, where a winner takes it all, has not helped us to foster unity and political justice.

"A political party, for example, that scores up to 30% of votes during an election at either the national or subnational level should have something to go with.

“I’m not clearly recommending proportional representation, but different governments come up with models of democracy that suit them.

“All the presidents of the world don’t emerge through the same process. In Nigeria, we elect our president directly. In a number of countries, presidents are elected indirectly.

“So our national assembly can also look at models that will fit us. A party that even sometimes gets 40 percent of the votes, especially at the state level, will have nothing.

“This gives rise to this do-or-die politics. The zero-sum approach, I think, is inimical to consolidating and strengthening our democracy.

“We must not hand over to our children a democracy built on the politics of the region and religion. A democracy built on ethnicity does not endure; it will continue to wobble.”

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