Democratic governance in Nigeria does not promise to make us perfect, but at least, the process of striving will make us a better people.
Nigeria’s democratic process can be described as nascent when compared to other countries’ based on our achievements on the key features of democracy. Nigeria, having gone through 18 years of uninterrupted democratic rule, seem to have made progress with periodic elections although lacks “free and fair” status.
Also, progress has been made in the rule of law, human rights and partially on our Judiciary, and thus, we seem to be on our way to consolidating democratic ethos in our polity.
Democracy was defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. When we talk about “the people” in a democratic system of government, we mean the masses, the community, the poor and the rich. The common people, through whom the privileged occupiers of office derive their power.
Power belongs to the people, and “democratic governance” recognizes it holds power in trust for the people. Its legitimacy is derived from the authority invested in it by the people. It therefore entails the ability to listen to the people, not out of a sense of benevolence but because it has no choice and if it must retain its legitimacy, it has to carry the people along all the time.
I acknowledge the fact that no country in the world is practicing a true democracy; even the one practiced in America, United Kingdom, Canada etc that holds itself up as a standard other underdeveloped nations should follow. Democracy in itself, is an ideal, but one worth striving for by the society that practices it.
ISSUES IN NIGERIA DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM
A true accessment of Nigeria’s democracy indicates that we have miss the road to true democratic system. We fail to consistently evaluate the system of democratic governance we claim to practice and ask how well it is working out for we the people to be able to make amends.
The people we entrusted the mandate upon have shy away from asking this very legitimate question. Instead of democracy, what has been perfected in Nigeria, as at today is kleptocracy; which is the combination of military bravado in milking Nigeria, and civilian pretense for the same objective.
The result is increasing underdevelopment of Nigeria, in colours of shame and perpetual embarrassment. Our democracy has been mered by widespread corruption, maginalisation, intimidation, assasination and all sort of social vices all in the quest for people’s mandate.
Fifty Seven years as a nation, we are still a nation in fear. Our youth have no jobs, and many ae self employed in arm robberry, kidnapping, thuggery, militancy and terrorism. In place of hope and inspiration, one leader after another inflicts more pain and suffering.
Fifty Seven years later, we fear whether we will survive as individuals.
We fear whether we will survive as one indivisible nation. We fear what will become of our country in future as the future of our future leaders (youths) have been motgaged. We fear Whether we will survive to tell the tale. Whether we will ever have water to drink, electricity to see, jobs to be able to find even a square meal, roads to get to our various destinations, safety from “unknown” gunmen, safety from known militants, and safety from tyrant security agents. This is the reality of the Nigerian state today.
WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD
If democratic system guarantees equality, we should not merely stop at lamenting the gross inequality in the Nigerian society. We need to go further and challenge our country to give us equal rights, access and privileges to the common wealth of our nation.
We need well meaning, totally committed and uncompromising people who can influence the coming together of Nigerians under a unified vision to turn the tide and bring about the much needed change in our nation. Such is the hope of our people in a democratic setting. The best, the brightest and the fittest among us should be involved in our politics at all levels and also educate, enlighten and empower the people.
If an average young Nigerian devotes as much time as they do to European soccer to the governance of our country, we will be out of the mess fast. The greatest asset of a badly run government is a disempowered and unconcerned citizenry. A nation where people look away from cases of abuse of office by her government officials is a nation where people will always be abused. It is a nation that will remain in the dark for a long time.
“The best argument against democracy is with the average voter.” If the people become the structure of our democratic structure, we can begin to chart our journey towards the ideals of democracy. We might not get there easily but we would at least have begun the journey. It is, altogether, a lifetime journey, one that does not offer a short cut.
God Bless Nigeria; God bless Nigerians. Happy democracy day
By Jomo Iroha. +2348091038310
twitter: @irohajomo. Facebook: jomo iroha. firstname.lastname@example.org