From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
An author and public affairs analyst, Dr Okey Anueyiagu, has identified electoral malpractices as one of the main factors militating against the growth of democracy in Nigeria.
Anueyiagu, the author of the book, Biafra: The Horrors of War, said that the country’s promising democratic experiment has been gravely ravaged by electoral fraud and endemic corruption and that urgent action was required to address it.
He stated this at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka during the institution’s 3rd annual international conference organized by UNIZIK Business School (UBS) where he delivered a keynote lecture on the topic: The Fate of Nigeria’s Economy in an Endangered Democracy.
“The level of voters’ disillusionment and disenfranchisement has reached a very high pitch, resulting in massive cases of democratic distress. The biggest challenge for the survival of democracy in Nigeria lay partly on the willingness of the ruling party to listen to the citizens’ voices, engage their participation, tolerate their protests, protect their freedoms and respond to their needs.
“How do we ensure an enduring democracy in Nigeria? We must confront the monstrous electoral authoritarianism as practiced by INEC. Elections are only democratic if they are truly free and fair.
“This requires the freedom to advocate, associate, contest, and campaign. It also requires a fair and neutral electoral administration, a widely credible system of dispute resolution, balanced access to mass media, and independent vote monitoring. By a strict application of these standards, Nigeria may have slipped below the threshold of a democracy.
“Nigeria’s promising democratic experiment has been gravely ravaged by electoral fraud and endemic corruption. If this experiment fails, and Nigeria reverts to military rule, descends into political chaos, or collapses, it will deal a harsh blow to democratic hopes across Africa”, he warned.
Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Esimone, and the Director of the business school, Prof. Au Nnonyelu, in their separate speeches, said that the institution was making efforts to give its best to the students.
Nnonyelu said: “UNIZIK Business School is still relatively new, but it has made significant contributions in management and leadership training, that students’ enrolment is increasing by the day.
“UBS is now a school of reference and choice of many applicants. We have, with the support of the current Vice-Chancellor, repositioned the Business School in line with the VC’s vision of making UNIZIK one of the 200 best universities in the world.”