Fayemi questions Nigeria's democracy as CSOs, others pay tribute to Beckman

Fayemi questions Nigeria's democracy as CSOs, others pay tribute to Beckman

- Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state has questioned Nigeria's democracy

- The governor said what Nigeria is currently practising is not a democracy, but democratisation

- According to the governor, Nigeria is still on its quest to democracy

Ekiti state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has said Nigeria is not presently practising democracy.

The governor made the comment on Thursday, March 12 in Abuja at the memorial colloquium to celebrate the life of Professor Bjorn Beckman a Swedish who contributed to Nigeria’s democracy in the early years of formation.

Governor Fayemi said: “What we have presently is not democracy and that is the truth, what we have is democratisation. We are still on our quest to democracy.

“The interest that the average Nigerian will have is when will we actually reach a point that we can say we have made enough tangible progress in our quest for true democracy.

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“That is also what is critical about this; it is not a teleological process or a link between election and democracy but a process you cannot have without elections.

“So we must continue to improve the process, that is the greatest tribute we can pay to Beckman for all the works he did, particularly in improving our understanding of state and societal relations.’’

He said Nigeria would be forever grateful to Professor Beckman for his humanitarian spirit and committing to a world of decency, respect for one another.

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Civil Society Organisations, labour unions, students, comrades, friends and academia also paid tribute to Beckmanat the event with the theme: The future of Democracy in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Labour Congress president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, led the labour delegation with Comrade Issa Aremu leading the textile and garments workers union.

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Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior fellow at CDD West Africa represented by Alhassan Ibrahim, gave a keynote speech at the event.

His words: “Professor Beckman was one of the most influential Marxist scholars who worked in Nigeria where he was a lecturer in Ahmadu Bello University from 1978 to 1987. His engagement with Nigeria and Nigerians, however, lasted to the end.

“He had researched and taught in Ghana before his Nigerian sojourn and also developed many close friends and comrades in that country.

“Bjorn Beckman in his years of research and teaching also developed a huge network of former students and comrades in many other African and Asian countries and his capacity to maintain relations, friendships and joint work with these networks was one of the wonders of his rich and fruitful life.’’

Professor Ibrahim said Beckman's greatest impact on many Nigerians was the way he oriented them to better appreciate Marxist political economy.

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According to him, Bjorn electrified the learning of Marxist political economy with his vast knowledge of the classics and current literature.

He added that Professor Beckman was important to Nigerians and Africans because of his deep commitment to African development, stressing that he immersed himself in the successive radical struggles of the 1980s and 1990s and beyond.

“He was a central pillar in the coterie of comrades that defined pathways for resistance to imperialism, neo-colonial and national exploitation and oppression.

“By the same token, he was a determined comrade engaged in the struggle for liberation, workers’ rights and women’s rights,’’ Professor Ibrahim said.

On his part, Comrade Wabba described Beckman as an intellectual that made workers, trade unionists and movements in Nigeria know their rights and obligations.

This Wabba said he did by building their capacity and raising consciousness.

Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, Lead Speaker at the event who reminisced on the ideologies of Beckman said that democracy for him was not an abstract notion but that of humanity, family and friendship

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“For Beckman, democracy was not simply about elections or the rituals of democracy, it was impeded in the everyday struggle of the people.

“For him, democratisation only makes sense in the everyday struggles of people not in the episodes of elections,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, a foremost election observer, YIAGA AFRICA has urged the National Assembly to address the mounting voter apathy in Nigeria's recent elections.

The group specifically asked the federal legislature to take advantage of the ongoing constitution and electoral reform to address the issue ahead of 2023 general elections.

Nigeria recorded only 36 per cent turnout for the last presidential and National Assembly elections and 32 per cent turnout for the governorship elections in 2019.

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