President Buhari says only moral elites can deliver dividends of democracy
NAN-H-96 Summit Abuja, Jan. 25, 2016 (NAN) President Muhammadu Buhari says the dividends of democracy can only be delivered by an elite who is prepared to offer exemplary moral leadership. Buhari stated this while declaring open the 2016 annual National Political Summit organised by the Save Democracy Group Africa (SDG-Africa) on Monday in Abuja. Buhari, represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, said that it also required as elite that ``understands that leadership is a high calling. ``Delivering such promises requires a leadership that is prepared to make sacrifice of self and parochial interest for the good of the people. ``No matter how simple this may sound, democracy can only deliver on its promises grounded by a moral elite who is prepared to offer exemplary moral leadership. ``A leadership, who is prepared to place the nation and the people above self, prepare to serve without making profit or wealth in any way,’’ Buhari said. He said that the task of nation building rested on political elites as well as the strength and success of democratic institutions also to a large extent, depending on the selflessness and commitment of the same elites. ``It entails selflessness and indeed self-restrain, because it requires a deep moral understanding of ones role in the destinies of millions of ones’ people and those yet to be born to hold political power and yet allows oneself to be subject to rule of law and restraining institutional rules and conventions. ``The deformed position of a person without understanding in power is to maximise position for private, family, ethnic and religious advantage. ``That attitude encourages corrupt behaviour, disrespect for democratic institutions, impunity and ultimately the state lose the capacity to maintain law and order and to deliver economic and social goods to the people.’’ He said that leaders of the nations of the world that managed to deliver decent democratic gains to their people had first conquered selfish desires to use power for personal or parochial gains. ``Democracy by itself cannot heal the terrible defect in the human condition that makes a politician demand and take bribe, steal the resources which are meant to provide drugs to hospitals, schools for our children and road for us all. ``We are all witness to some of the revelations of the ways some of the political and military elites in the last administration corruptly handled billions of dollars of funds meant to procure arms and equipment to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria. ``How do you explain the callousness that enable leaders to seek to benefit from civil conflicts?’’ The president, however, expressed the hope that the summit would lead to the evolution of moral leadership in Nigeria. ``My challenge to this distinguished body therefore is seek answer to the question of how to ensure leadership in Nigeria and indeed Africa is culture-realistic, selfless and committed to the common courses that will up light the people.’’ Buhari commended the SDG-Africa for his investiture as the Grand Patron of the group and conferring the Life Time Democracy Award on him. ``I think they are giving me this award as some form of compensation for three times and indeed the four time of my trying to be the president of this country.’’ He also commended the group for honouring Nigerians who had contributed immensely and selflessly to the development of Nigeria’s democracy. Buhari said that the theme of the summit ``2015 General Election: Consolidating the Gains and Building Positive Political Culture for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria’’ was very apt. He said that every step on the part of virile and sustainable democracy was worth studying, even as we celebrated. ``My support for this summit is hinged on the need to promote continuous and sustained dialogue among political stakeholders and key actors in our polity and across party lines. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the summit was the presentation of the Nigeria Hero of Democracy Award on Former President Goodluck Jonathan. A Posthumus Award for Good Democratic Governance was also conferred on late President Musa Umaru YarÁdua. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was also presented with President of Nigerian Shield of Democracy Award among others.