Fela Debates 2021: Citizens Challenged to Deepen Participation in Electoral Process

Fela Debates 2021: Citizens Challenged to Deepen Participation in Electoral Process

Nigerians have been challenged to deepen their participation in the electoral process in order for their voices to be heard, panelists at the annual Fela Debate series canvassed on Monday. The event, with the theme “the national question, evolution or devolution” had different speakers proffering suggestions on how to deepen democracy by getting more people

Nigerians have been challenged to deepen their participation in the electoral process in order for their voices to be heard, panelists at the annual Fela Debate series canvassed on Monday.

The event, with the theme “the national question, evolution or devolution” had different speakers proffering suggestions on how to deepen democracy by getting more people especially women and youth to increase their participation.

Speaking as a panelist, Mrs. Arinola Oloko, a House of Assembly candidate in the 2019 elections under the platform of the Social Democratic Party for Eti-Osa constituency in Lagos State House of Assembly said the voices of the Nigerian citizens must be intentional, deliberate and engaging. She also said that the constitution should recognize women, youths and people living with disabilities.

Lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, who was the moderator of the debate added that if a significant percentage of youths can participate actively in the affairs of Nigeria, the situation of the country will be different.

Also speaking on the theme of the debate, Tony Nnadi, Secretary-General of the Lower Niger Congress, and co-convener of the Movement for New Nigeria (MNN) sees the constitution as the totality of Nigeria’s problems. According to him, “the contents of the constitution have worked against the progress of this nation, giving more power and preference to some regions to the detriment of other regions”.

In his own contribution, another panelist, Seun Kuti, a son of Fela said that what Nigeria needs is revolution not the general ideologies of what people see as revolution. He said this is because the goal of the Nigerian professionals, businessmen and ruling elites is to be in power to control the poor citizens of Nigeria adding that to change the status quo the people must take over power so that they can change the constitution to suit their needs.

The fourth panelist, Mr. Dele Farotimi said Nigerians are not treated as real citizens saying that, “If we were citizens, what we will do with an election in two years’ time will be simple and easy for us. We will be talking about voting in demonstration of our opinions and views on governance, but we are unable to do this because we are not citizens”. He suggested that “the first step is to let ourselves know we have lost our right to self-determination and the way to create a change is to begin the assertion of the right of citizens that has been lost”.

In his coments on the submission of the panelists, Mr. Wale Okunniyi called for civil disobedience by way of a boycott of elections because the constitution of the country does not represent the will of the people. Another speaker said education is the way forward stating that citizens should have proper education that can make them think properly. Mr. Lanre Arogundade suggested an alternative political platform which can stand on the demands of the citizens for the country can improve while Ms. Nike Ransome Kuti said it is important for those seeking to take over power to know what exactly they want.

Following the comments, Mr. Nnadi announced that there is a website – www.ninasvoice.org – where answers can be provided to questions bothering the citizens.

In her own case, Mrs. Oloko emphasised that there is a part for everyone to play in in the electoral process to get good governance adding that there is power in numbers and the citizens’ voices can have influence.

For Seun Kuti “at the core of the questions that have been asked is a misunderstanding of power”. He explained that a change of the constitution is a power move and the citizens with power can decide the fate of the country. He therefore called on the professionals to organise the platforms to bring the youths together and channel their resources correctly to gain power.

Also speaking on the theme of the debate, Femi Anikulapo Kuti, the first son of Fela demanded that “any government who comes into power anywhere in the world must first apologise to Africans for slavery and we must insist on it”. According to him the youths must be educated to make sure that every government who partook in the African slavery must apologise and acknowledge that they participated in slavery.”

Speaking further, he noted that “we must not take five hundred years of slavery for granted. If we lose the historical part of what has happened, we lose where we are coming from, where we are and where we want to be. This is the problem of the youths which is lack of historical knowledge”.

The debate marked the beginning of the year 2021 Felabration taking pace between Monday October 11 and Sunday October 17, 2021.

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