JOS – As the general elections approach, Dr John Danfulani, has said that the stiff competition among political parties in Nigeria has restored the voter’s status as the ‘king of democracy‘’.
“The voter is ideally the king of democracy; it is he that has the mandate and decides who to give it to.
“In the past, no one reckoned with the voter. But the political space has opened up and competition has become tighter and stiffer, forcing office seekers to beg voters to listen to them,’’ Danfulani said.
The senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of Kaduna State University expressed the opinion in an interview with the newsmen in Jos.
He said balance in the strength of the major political parties was a positive development that had shifted power from godfathers to the real people who mattered in the democratic process.
Danfulani said election rigging by godfathers occurred in one of two ways – wholesale and retail.
In the one local chiefs or rich individuals rig elections, while in the other, thugs are hired to rig elections for candidates, he said.
Dafulani said it was thrilling that politicians had continued to “practically beg’’ voters for attention.
He also said getting a ticket in party primaries had ceased to be a guarantee for electoral victory, “especially in areas considered to be one party states’’.
“Now, voters have options considered strong and viable and that has warded off the tendency to take them for granted,’’ he said.
Danfulani said that the development was “very good for democracy and its growth in Nigeria’’, and advised the voters never to take that privilege for granted.
“The voters must guard that privilege very jealously by obtaining their permanent voter cards and protecting them against damage, theft or sale.’’
He expressed optimism that the stiff competition would rub off on performance as those elected would value the voter and seek to impress him.
“We expect winners to try to impress the voters because they will soon come seeking fresh tenures and would be expected to give account of what they did with the first mandate given to them,’’ he said.
Danfulani said that many civil society groups and non-governmental organisations were also interested in the performance of elected officials and demand accountability from them.
He advised the political class to take advantage of the renewed interest in political activities and strive to keep it by listening to the wishes of the people.
“We must strive to check apathy because it can destroy the integrity of the political process; we can do that by working toward effective participatory democracy,’’ he said.