The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has challenged the opposition party to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s challenges, stating that he cannot recall the last time an opposition party prepared and detailed an alternative budget to that of the party in government.
Fashola, who disclosed this yesterday in Lagos during the annual lecture of The Niche with the theme: ‘2023 Election and the Future of Nigeria Democracy’, said democracy was simply concerned about the popular participation in choosing a leader or set of leaders.
He also stated that the federal government has heard enough criticisms of what the All Progress Congress (APC) was not doing or getting right; “but when I ask, can you recall an opposition party offering a credible and alternative solution to what the party in government has done wrong?
“To be fair I must acknowledge the generalizations such as we will do this and do that, but very often that is where it ends.”
He added: “Democracy does not guarantee that the leader or those leaders will deliver or indeed are able to deliver on what we want. Put conversely, what really is it that we expect from those we elect and what do they promise to do before we vote, and what have they done for us?”
He further explained that elections are only a part of the democratic process, saying this requires not only the successful party to play their role in the formation and running of government. According to him, the opposition as watchdog, and government in waiting, has an equally important role to play in enriching the process.
He said: “If you listen to any of the several Morning Shows the issue will come up and you will hear the criticisms, which are legitimate, but you will not get any credible answer to the question – what are the alternatives?
“The answer must lie somewhere between cutting waste, reducing the size of Government, raising taxes, stopping some programmes, projects or policies. But who is ready to have these conversations in real politics.”
Fashola stressed that in the run up to the 2023 general election, Nigerians should focus on how the new government would resolve the revenue problem the country has had with fuel subsidy without leading to social unrest which the two dominant parties have not yet resolved, and the other contenders remain quiet about.
“Why has parliament, where all the people of Nigeria are represented, not taken a bi-partisan position on the matter after consulting with their constituents, the Nigerian people, and say that we have your mandate to do this or that about the subsidy.
“Why can we not have a voting process that shows how each legislator voted to show that the vote was the result of consultation with the constituents and ensure that they will re-elect the legislator again.
“Why is it not a stipulation that our elected representatives live in our constituency so that they understand what we experience and present it for government attention? Is this type of hands-on representation less important than the occasional goodies shared at seasonal meetings by absentee representatives?
“We can win elections without exaggerating our problems. We can do so by offering credible service and well thought out solutions. We can win elections without disrobing our country before the global community.
“We can do so by valorising Nigeria’s possibilities and not by widening her fault lines. Elections and democracy must represent for us a feast of ideas and choices that bring out the best of us and the best of our country.”
Earlier in his remarks, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said reverting to a regional system of government as being clamoured for would no longer help the Nigerian situation.
He said the dangerous situation which the country found itself in and the array of challenges bedeviling the country cannot be corrected by reverting to the regional system of government.
Yakasai also made the call for Nigeria to adopt the French Presidential system of government.
He said the most outstanding aspect of the French system of government was that it made it easier to replace non-performing governments than the American Presidential system operated in Nigeria.