Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Thursday urged Nigerians to choose leaders based on their ability to deliver good governance rather than sentiments.
He gave the advice in Ikeja at a programme to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was widely adjudged to be free and fair, but was annulled by the then military administration.
The programme, with the theme “June 12 and Challenges of the Fourth Republic,“ was organised by the state government in conjunction with June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations.
Fashola contended that it was the capacity of leaders that would deliver democratic dividends and not sentiments or emotions.
The governor, therefore, advised the electorate to make informed choices during elections by subjecting would-be leaders to debates to ascertain their leadership capacity before voting for them.
“We must not have elections without testing the capacity of the candidates. We cannot go to elections without putting the candidates to test.
“And debates on TV across all sections must become part of our democratic culture, because it enables us to make informed choice about competence.
“So we can no longer vote on emotions and empathy .We must subject the candidates to tests .We must ask questions like “What would do you about my circumstance? “What are your plans?“
“In this way, we can leave all the emotional issues; they may be relevant, but they are not as important as the capacity of the candidates to deliver and their understanding of development issues, “ he said.
Fashola said the June 12 1993 election was particularly memorable as Nigerians had the opportunity to scruitinise the presumed winner, Chief Moshood Abiola, via debates before voting for him.
He described June 12 as a watershed in the political history of the country, saying it represented the hope of a truly democratic Nigeria.
The governor advised Nigerians to live by the lessons of June 12 by joining efforts in strengthening democracy and democratic institutions.
He implored Nigerians to help bring change in the country by showing more interest in the political process and voting competent candidates during elections.
Also speaking, constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay advised Nigerians to shun sentiments like religion in voting candidates during elections.
He advised the electorate to rather choose leaders based on competence as democratic dividends had no religious coloration.
“Religion has no place in good governance. For example, it is not a Muslim-Muslim ticket or a Christian-Christian ticket that will build roads, hospitals and so on. It is good leadership.
“Therefore, Nigerians should vote for leaders based on what they can offer, rather than sentiments like religion,“ he said.
Sagay called for the strengthening of the electoral system to make the nation`s democracy more virile.
He contended that democracy was a misnomer in the absence of rule of law and free and fair elections.
The lawyer described the June 12 election as a historic moment in the nation`s political history as it gave room for the emergence of the presumed winner, Chief Moshood Abiola, through popular decision.
Sagay urged Nigerians to imbibe the values of the election and pursue efforts that would promote free and fair elections in the country.
On his part, Chief Ayo Opadokun, a pro-democracy activist, said fighting corruption was central to strengthening democracy.
He urged Nigerians to resolve to eliminate the threats of corruption in the country by doing what was right and living above board.
Opadokun said June 12 should be a guide in the nation`s quest to attain true democracy and good governance.