Okowa gave the advice while declaring open a two-day Seminar/Workshop in Asaba on Thursday organised by the Asaba Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council.
The workshop has as its theme, “Good Governance and Democratic Sustainability vis-a-vis Electoral Process”.
The governor, represented by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said that it was imperative for Nigerians to participate in the political process to enthrone credible leadership in the country at all times.
According to him, you as citizens need to participate in politics because when you don’t vote, you have inadvertently voted for those who are coming to do the wrong thing.
“Once you are 18 years and above, you need to register and have your voter’s card and come out to cast your vote on election days.
“Once you have done that, you have ended up helping in the sustainability of democracy in the country,” Okowa said.
He appealed to seminar participants to take the message home to members of their families.
“The people get the leadership they deserve. Meaning that if you don’t vote you would have ended up voting for the wrong people”, the governor said.
He commended the Guest Speaker, Sen. Shehu Sani, for his outspokenness and contributions to the growth and sustainability of democracy in Nigeria.
He described him as a “firebrand leader and a man who speaks truth to power”.
Okowa applauded newsmen in the state for their support and commitment to the dissemination of information on his administration’s programmes and policies to the people.
“As a government, we are pleased with members of the Asaba Correspondents’ Chapel and other journalists in the state because they have supported us in the last seven years, propagating our programmes and policies to the people.
“I speak authoritatively because I have had cause to relate with you all and you believed in honesty and had continued to tell the story just the way they are,’’ he said,
The guest speaker said Nigeria’s democracy was not a gift given by the military but a product of struggle and sacrifice.
He said Nigeria was effectively under full time military rule from 1983 to 1999 and commended the role played by Prof. Wole Soyinka, Late Gani Fawehinmi, Col. Abubakar Umar, Late Beko Ransome-Kuti, amongst others.
“Nigeria’s democracy is a product of the sacrifice of many who fought for it and so we have a duty to protect and preserve it.
“We cannot continue to do what we used to do when our population was small and now that we are over 200 million people,’’ Sani said.
He said the only way to achieve peace in the country is by ensuring equity, justice, fairness and treating every Nigerian as a stakeholder in the country.
“Only justice, equity and fairness can keep the country one,” Sani said.
Earlier, the Chairman, Asaba Correspondents’ Chapel, Mr Dominic Adewole, said the theme of the workshop was carefully chosen as part of deliberate effort to broaden the discourse on the fast approaching 2023 general elections in the country.
He added that the success of next year’s election would largely depend on the observance of the provisions of the new Electoral Act by the umpire, INEC and political stakeholders.
“With the political atmosphere at a fever pitch as the nation matches toward yet another dispensation in the democratic process, this topic couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
“It is with this in mind that this seminar has been put together to sensitise stakeholders on their roles in the new law as we approach 2023,” Adewole said.
Other guests include the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika; State NUJ Council Chairman, Mr Michael Ikeogwu; the State Commissioner of Police, Delta Command, CP Mohammed Ari represented