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Onyeama meets Community of Democracies Secretary-General

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, yesterday, received in audience, the Secretary-General of the Community of Democracies, Thomas Garrett.

In his remarks, Onyeama said Nigeria is committed to the organisation, adding that the values espoused by the community are values that Nigeria also cherished, which are values of democracy.

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Onyeama also said the visit was timely, not just because the country is seeking to renew its membership of the governing council, but because Nigeria is going into elections.

The minister recalled that it is over 20 years that Nigeria has had stable democracy in the country.

Onyeama further said Nigeria plays an important role in Africa and in the sub-region to promote and maintain democracy.

“We saw this some years back when it looked as if in the Gambia, democracy was going to be sacrificed there and Nigeria played an important role and President Muhammadu Buhari to save democracy in the Gambia.

“And also, we support countries of the sub-region in reinforcing and strengthening their democratic systems.

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“In Guinea Bissau, Nigeria played a very important role again in shoring up the democratic governance in that country and also, we played a significant role in the electoral processes in countries in this sub-region.

“Unfortunately, of course, we have seen a step backward in a number of countries recently in the sub-region in which their constitutional order has been overthrown as it were and we are also working very closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in engaging in those countries to seek a very quick return to constitutional order,” Onyeama said.

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Onyeama also told the visiting Secretary-General of the Community of Democracies that within the country under President Buhari, Nigeria has taken a number of very important initiatives to further strengthen democracy in the country.

“So, measures like Not Too Young To Run has seen us bridging the age of participation in the democratic process, reducing it as we are a very young society, we are a youthful society and wanting to empower the youth and have them engaged more in the democratic process.

“And a number of initiatives, not all have been successful, but we are nevertheless determined to have greater participation of women and greater representation of women in our democratic architecture and democratic process.

“We are trying working very hard to ensure free and fair elections, promoting use of technology to ensure that each vote counts and of course, a lot of other measures that have been taken to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to also perform their roles more effectively and efficiently and supporting that process.

“And of course, to maintain a democratic culture and architecture, it requires a lot of different initiatives and the government is fully committed to entrenching democracy in this country and taking all the measures necessary to ensure that it just becomes part of the DNA of our country,” Onyeama stated.

On his part, Garrett said the organisation does not rate the practise of democracy in countries because democracy is never a finished product.

Garrett further said democracy is always something that is creating a new rich generation.

“So, because of that, we don’t necessarily rate a democracy as to where they are at that moment,” Garrett said.

Garrett however said what the organisation is concerned about is what each country is doing to constantly improve itself; doing to bring a new generation of people into the system and what it is doing to ensure equality among men and women.

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