From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
For the nation to enjoy enduring peace, members of the National Association of Seadogs, (NAS) popularly known as Pyrates Confraternity, have advocated the promotion of rule of law, democracy and respect for fundamental rights in a horizontal, integrated and comprehensive way.
This was the submission during a zoom lecture as part of activities for this year’s International Day for Democracy and Peace organised by the Vito Corsica Deck of the confraternity.
With the themed: ‘True Democracy: Panacea For Peace in Nigeria’, the lecture had Rev. Fr. Dr. Kenneth Oraegbunem, an Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in Anambra State; and Prof. Jaja Nwanegbo of Political Science Department, Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State, as guest speakers.
It was moderated by Hajia Rafatu Salami, an Assistant Director, Digital Media Department, Voice of Nigeria (VoA), Abuja.
President of Vito Corsica Deck of NAS, Emeka Okolo, had said the lecture was to review the state of democracy, its goals with full participation and support of every individual.
He insisted that the purpose of the annual celebration to review the state of democracy in the world to uphold and promote democracy and its principles.
“On the days, individuals and organisations of all kinds work together for democracy and hold events to create awareness on democracy, including conferences, discussions and debates, as well as press conferences and publicity campaigns through distribution of leaflets, posters and flyers,” Okolo stated.
Delivering his lecture titled: ‘Observing The Rule Of Law In A Democracy: Recipe For Peace In Nigeria’, Fr. Oraegbunam, opined that rule of law, democracy, peace and respect for fundamental rights, which are essential building blocks of modern societies, lay at the heart of any society whose aim was to promote the well-being of its citizens.
The Associate Professor of Law said as important as they were, their realisation could not be taken for granted, adding that they must be sought and worked for.
“In a constantly changing political and societal landscape like Nigeria, these values and principles should not be taken as settled. Nigeria is currently passing through a phase that is marked by tension, injustice, inequity, corruption, impunity, and general sense of hopelessness and dissatisfaction.
“There are agitations against lopsided appointments, marginalisation and unfair distribution of resources and amenities. There are also cases of selective application of the rule of law by which, for instance, the government choose particular court orders to obey and which one to disobey.
“These inequitable situations have often led to calls that are detrimental to the unity of the country. The result is lack of peace and much suffering in the country in the form of poverty, hunger, joblessness, insecurity, violence, fear … the list is endless. Nigeria appears to be under siege.
“Nigeria today experiences upsurge in killings due to cases of banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassinations and activities of terrorists, insurgents, militia and the so-called ‘unknown gunmen’.
“This perilous situation leaves the citizenry jittery, frightened and traumatised. Many parts of our nation are still in disarray. The country is badly divided. This is evident in appointments to positions of national importance, sharing of resources and distribution of social amenities.
“In Nigeria today, qualities of accountability, transparency, independence of the judiciary, respect for human rights, observance of the rule of law, to mention only these, are still deficient,” he maintained.
In his own paper, titled: ‘Uniting The Monkeys and Baboons For The Security Of Democracy In Nigeria: Discourse On The Matters Arising’, Prof. Nwanegbo said the quality of education would determine the progress of a society, adding that the nation’s education was declining.
He said that negative perceptions had consumed larger parts of the masses heart and that only equal recognition and treatment would restore the elusive peace in the country.
The moderator, Hajia Salami expressed worries at the way politicians defected from one party to another, saying that it was not healthy for the nation’s democracy.
Other contributors, including Prof. Alex Asigbo, Dr. Ralph Ibekwe, Dr. Victor Amuwah, urged the Federal Government to resurrect the sleeping National Orientation Agency to do what it was established for.
The lecture equally noted that the Nigeria leaders were not the actual problem but followers that were following blindly.