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1999 transition started on wrong footing – Makarfi

Speaking at a national symposium to mark 10 years of Nigeria’s democracy (May 29, 1999 – May 29, 2009), Makarfi said civilians erred in the…

Speaking at a national symposium to mark 10 years of Nigeria’s democracy (May 29, 1999 – May 29, 2009), Makarfi said civilians erred in the first place by allowing the ex- head of state to take over the reins of a democratic government.

Makarfi was a guest speaker at the event organized by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training (AKCDRT), an institution under the auspices of Bayero University, Kano (BUK).

The former governor who spoke on the theme, Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects, equally blamed the General Abdulsalami led military regime for hurriedly preparing the 1999 constitution and handing over the reins of power to the former military head of state.

The military, according to him, determined who would contest in 1999, besides the fact that the country’s political parties lacked in internal democracy.

Makarfi also said Nigerians should therefore demand that they have the best electoral system, suggesting that all the loopholes in the 1999 constitution should be plugged to check the confusion in the country’s democratic culture.

He supported the Federal Government’s current electoral reform efforts, saying however that the whole issues should be addressed squarely.

Also commenting as a guest speaker, former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, revisited the core recommendations of the Muhammadu Lawal Uwais Electoral Reform Committee (ERC), saying that they must be implemented to save the country’s democracy.

Tinubu said the ERC’s recommendation on the appointment of INEC chairman would deny any sitting president or governor the chance to plant a party sympathiser as electoral chief, as it often happens, to help skew the election.

In his remarks, chairman of the occasion, Professor J I Elaigwu, President of the Institute of Government and Social Research (IGSR), Jos, simply defined democracy as a system whereby power is acquired from the people, with the rule of law, legitimacy, values and choices as well as accountability.