Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on Nigerians to protect the country’s democracy from derailment into some form of fascism.
He made the call on Wednesday during a conference to mark the 70th birthday of the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Kukah in Abuja.
According to him, this is not the time for Nigerians to lower their guard and allow democracy to crumble. Jonathan maintained that democracy remains the best form of government that can effectively manage the nation’s diversity.
He said:“Obviously many people, especially our youths, are becoming increasingly disillusioned about our politics and democracy.
“However, we must remain on the democratic path because it is the only practical way of effectively managing our diversity, developing sustainably, and recording progress as a nation.
“The task before all of us is not to lower our guards lest the democracy we cherish today succumbs to threats and recedes into fascism tomorrow because there are signs, looking across the states, that we are derailing into some quasi fascism.”
He said democracy is not about winning elections, noting that Nigerians must accommodate other people’s views.
Jonathan also spoke about the six-month-old industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), narrating how his government resolved one of the industrial disputes in one night.
“The society we are managing is quite complex. Now, we are talking about ASUU strike. During my time too, ASUU had four months of strike. Different committees were meeting but nothing was working. I said ‘How can our children stay out of school for four months?” Jonathan said at the event.
“So, I had to call a meeting of all the leadership of ASUU. I presided over the meeting with my vice president. The Attorney General was there. I said that that night we must solve the problem. The Attorney General was there; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was there; the ministers of education were there; the labour ministers were there; the finance minister and everybody that had to do with it [strike].
“And I thought that my being there would help us to do things quickly. But we spent the whole night. We finished like 5:30 am and the strike was called off. So, there were issues.”
Aside from Jonathan, other top dignitaries at the event include the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, state governors, and chairmen of political parties among others.