Former Minister of Education Dr Oby Ezekwesili has lamented that bad governance had brought the country to its knees.
Ezekwesili said the missing link for a great future for Nigeria was the absence of citizens power, Concise News reports.
She spoke on Wednesday at an event in Ikeja, Lagos, to commemorate the June 12 Democracy Day in honour of late MKO Abiola.
The event, organised by the Pro-Democracy Movement, was attended by the business expert, Pat Utomi; former Kaduna State senator, Shehu Sani, Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Oginni and Muhammed Fawehinmi, the son of a late prominent lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi.
She said, “What was the rate of poverty when Chief MKO Abiola enunciated a manifesto that talked about farewell to poverty? What you can see clearly from the indicators is that poverty has increased. What has happened between 1993 and now is that Nigeria has overtaken India, a nation that is about six times its population, by having the largest number of extremely poor people in its population. Today, according to the world poverty map, we have some 93 million extremely poor people among us.
“If you have 93 million people living in poverty, then it means that you must focus the government on them. But what has happened is that the political class has monopolised the political and governance space and taken absolute control, excluding the citizens for whom the democracy should be for. The political class has weaponised poverty as an instrument of perpetual control.
“Unfortunately, some of the 93 million people don’t vote and when they have the power to vote, they don’t clearly know how to exercise that vote in their own interest. What do you then do when the excluded have a way of conspiring with a system that has excluded them to entrench the exclusion?”
Ezekwesili said blaming voters who sell their votes and engaging in political and civic education could no longer solve the problem.
The former minister explained that for Nigeria to be better, there was the need for leaders with strong character, competence and capacity.