Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has urged Nigerians to weigh their options carefully when they cast their vote during the poll next year.

The former Lagos governor, who was guest speaker during The Niche annual lecture with theme: ‘2023 Elections and the Future of Nigeria’s Democracy’, in Lagos, yesterday, called on electorate to elect only competent leaders who would represent their interest, and warned against selling of votes.

He said the calibre of people Nigerians elect in the forthcoming election would determine the quality of service that would be get.

He said: “What do we expect from the people you vote for at the election? Do you expect service or do you take money from them? If you collect money, you must understand that the gifts you accept from them were budgeted for from the funds meant for infrastructure and other things. The calibre of people you elect will also determine the quality of services you will get.”

He said the forthcoming elections should be made issues-based and frowned at making criticisms without proffering a credible alternative.

“If you want to criticise the policies of the ruling party what credible alternative do you have to what the government has not done. On the election day, you will not see qualifications, Muslim or Christians on the ballot box. Democracy doesn’t ask whether the man is kind or compassionate or whether his values align with yours. It is institution of democracy like this town hall meeting that helps in defining issues because at the end of the day, the majority will chose the person they want. That someone is the choice of the majority does not mean he or she will deliver on what he promised. You can win election without de-robing Nigeria before the international community,” he said.

Tanko Yakassai, chairman on the occasion, said Nigeria was at a crossroad, and traced the problems facing to the abandonment of the parliamentary system for the American style presidential system of government after the military interregnum, which, he said, was influenced by American trained elite in Nigeria rather than exhaustive debate and objective evaluation of the full potential of the parliamentary system in Nigeria.

“There is the overwhelming consensus that the political leadership, under the current federal system, is far from being optimal. The democratic government, which ideally should serve the people and build enduring institutions, has only succeeded in creating a generation of oligarchs and political entrepreneurs running the country as a private undertaking and not a federation responsible for the wellbeing of over 200 million people.”

Ikechukwu Amaechi, managing director of The Niche, said the lecture is part of the organisation’s contribution to deepen democracy in Nigeria as well as remind the citizens that elections have consequences.

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