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OPINION: An Aberrant Democracy

Akintokunbo A Adejumo (akinadejum@aol.com)

What exactly is democracy?

Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokratía, literally “rule by people”) is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting…In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature.

What is the best definition of democracy?

In the dictionary definition, democracy “is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” … In short, democracy is the institutionalization of freedom.

What is the purpose of democracy?

The principal purposes for which the People establish democratic government are the protection and promotion of their rights, interests, and welfare. Democracy requires that each individual be free to participate in the political community’s self-government.

What are the 4 principles of democracy?

There are several guiding principles that act as the foundation of a democracy, such as rule of law, protected rights and freedoms, free and fair elections, and accountability and transparency of government officials. Citizens have a responsibility to uphold and support these principles.

What are the benefits of democracy?

The advantage of a representative democracy is its efficiency. A large group of people receive the benefits of living in a democracy by having one representative vote according to their needs, wishes or desires. It saves time and money for the government so the funds can be used for other purposes.

All above from Wikipedia

Pardon me for the above definitions that you already know, but I felt the need and necessity to highlight the above definitions and explanations before I start this narrative, which was brought on by three recent incidents, or maybe we should call them political events, in Nigeria.

The first was an elected Federal Senator, Mr Smart Adeyemi, who has been in the Nigerian Senate twice, on two different political platforms/parties, avowing that military rule is better than democratic rule (at least as far as his country is concerned) not minding that he got into his current position on a democratic platform.

The second even, and probably of less importance to my views, was that of the court-ordered removal of APC Party Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomole, a long time Labour leader, turned two-term former Governor of Edo State, and the subsequent aberration of the court order by another court. I think learned men call it “vacation of order” or something like that.

The third, and very worrying, was the dethronement and banishment of the now former Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi to a village in Nasarawa State. It is crass impunity from a power-mad (s)elected governor. Was the Emir given fair hearing? No! Did the State House of assembly meet to debate the issue and then authorise the governor to take that action? No! Did the governor have the power to arrest and then ship the Emir to another state? No! We live in very interesting times, indeed. It is baffling that in 2020, we are still thinking Stone Age ideas and acting Neanderthal. Worryingly, our Democracy cannot develop and be sustained this way when atavistic ideas and impunity are allowed to reign unchecked, especially from “elected” officials.

I have always suspected, feared and written that we are still largely a primeval, primordial, primitive and prehistoric people struggling to come to terms with living and adapting in a modern age, despite all our shouted and perceived sophistication and education.

When you look at the second case, one hardly has any faith or hope in the Nigerian Judiciary. Democracy can never thrive where there is no justice and where the justice system is delayed, warped, corrupted, mediocre and partisan. Of course, this is by far, NOT the best, or perhaps, worst, example of judicial anomaly in Nigeria. The land is replete with delayed, dishonest and miscarriages of justice in this our little corner of the world.

Now, there is really nothing wrong with Democracy. So far in the world we live in, it seems to be the best form of government we can have as human beings closer to Utopia. It is time-tested and successful in many countries. It has killed off opposing forms such as autocracy, communism, military and dictatorships, etc.

It has also been proven that ONLY the people operating it can make it work. Where the will of the people is absent, or is misrepresented and implemented, Democracy will NOT work! So is the case with Nigeria and many African countries. The problem with our Democracy is our lack of will and sincerity to make it work, as well as allowing those we think and elect to make it work, now hijack it (and the politics) to make it work for ONLY themselves. It is not because it is a foreign ideology to Africans, it is because of African’s inability to adapt and innovate. There lies the tragedy, and it is costly in lives and human development.

Yessir!! Millions of lives are lost because we are not operating Democracy the way it should be operated. It is not a laughing matter, but something to be reflected on and of concern by any right-thinking, truly patriotic and caring people, who have the deepest love for their country.

Another problem is that our institutions and psyche are not built to withstand the onslaught of rogue politicians, manipulative and greedy business moguls and corrupt civil servants, and also not built to withstand normal democratic practices and norms as obtained in many successful examples we see.

This may perhaps be alluded to decades-long military rule which has probably subdued us and cowered us into a beaten/defeated and depressed people, and smothered our minds and thinking faculties so much that our senses of social justice, equity and equality, goodness and love for each other (even as preached by the Holy Books of all religions we practice) have evaporated over the decades, to make uncaring, insensitive, selfish and greedy monsters of us.

Politicians of Senator Smart Adeyemi’s ilk do not understand what Democracy is about, so they cannot appreciate and practice it any other way than they know now. They sneaked into the corridors of power through election rigging, voters’ manipulation and forceful thuggery and intimidation of opponents and the ignorant and unsuspecting electorate.

They hardly know what the Constitution says, and certainly do not know, or perhaps deliberately ignore, their roles in the society and in democratic settings. They also do not know the Rules of Democracy and their knowledge of politics is bereft of any known standard. They are beneficiaries of manipulated and rigged elections. In a warped irony, I do not blame them, I blame the ignorant and gullible people that we are, who allowed them to get into undeserved power and authority, and hence give them unfettered freedom to enter the treasury and loot our common wealth, to the detriment of our lives, welfare and progress as a people and country.

So how do you expect such people to know, understand and appreciate that Democracy, if and when practiced as they do in America, Britain and many other democracies of the world, is actually beneficial to the WHOLE populace, and NOT just for a very miniscule minority of crass opportunists and charlatans like themselves? And this with their own experience of travelling to these good parts of the world either to study or just to visit.

Ask them for the simplest definition of Democracy, and you will find them scratching their heads for answers – all they know is that simple definition of “the government of the people, by the people, for the people – and nothing else. A lot of them are governing us, making laws for us and virtually holding us to ransom in our quest for an egalitarian, just and developed society that should be harnessing and utilising our vast human and natural resources to build a nation we can all be proud of and be the envy of the world, instead of stagnating and struggling to survive in a concoction of lethargy, poverty, desperation, insecurity, crime and disorder that we are in now.

All these our so-called leaders, since Independence of almost 60 years, including some democratic years, (1) where have they been leading us and (2) where will they lead us?

My answers are (1) they have been leading us nowhere, or at best leading us into darkness, and (2) if we do not arrest these situations, they will lead us into the abyss.

There’s no doubt that Nigeria has been unlucky with her leaders and rulers. There is a dearth of good, honest, sincere and visionary leadership at every level. We all agree on this but seem incapable of bring out the few good ones we could find. Invariably, we find the few good and genuine leaders frustrated and later, alas, join the mediocre crowd.

Impunity is rife and excessive coming from almost everybody who think they have some power and authority; corruption is brazen, unabated and is seen as a way of life or to survive; injustice is normal and people just accept their fate from the hands of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary; human and civil rights, freedom of speech, movement, association, etc are just lip service and are routinely trampled upon; mediocrity is superior to, and admired more than meritocracy. These are just some of the reasons why our Democracy is not working for us.

Many Nigerians in general, especially our rulers, are DEFINITELY NOT PATRIOTS. If both leaders and followers are truly patriots, we would have solved all our problems a long time ago, be living in peace and unity and won’t be in the current mess we are now.

However, if we don’t believe in NIGERIA, what other country should we believe in?

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