HOW DEMOCRATIC IS NIGERIA DEMOCRACY?

      Democracy is built on the equality of citizens; the freedom of these
citizens to associate with one another for the realization of their ideals and the
defense and promotion of their interests; and the freedom of these citizens to
choose between the different political platforms of various political parties and
candidates, and see to the actualization of the platforms they have voted for, if
their choices win. But in Nigeria, people have effectively been disenfranchised
by their own circumstances on the one hand, and their leaders’ perfidy on the
other. As a result, Nigeria is approaching a situation where democracy is being
practiced without democrats and elections are being conducted with scant
regard for the electorate. The ballot is not respected by the government and the
price of protecting it is too high for the people to pay; but the bullet, once
universally feared, is now generally out of fashion.

      The biggest blunder of Nigeria’s ruling class has been its failure to build
strong and stable social system to provide the kind of atmosphere that
democracy needs to take root and flourish. The ruling elite is also guilty of, as
described   by   Muhammadu       Buhari,    ‘deliberately   promoting   the   social
fragmentation that creates, feeds and reinforces religious and ethnic identities
to the exclusion of civic and national identities.

      In discussing the linkage between Identity, Law and Strategy, Philip
Bobbitt submitted that “It is the self-portrayal of a society that enables it to
know its own identity. Without this knowledge a society cannot establish its
rule by law because every system of laws depends on the continuity of
legitimacy, which is an attribute of identity. Furthermore, without such a self-
portrayal, no society can pursue a rational strategy because it is the identity of
the society that strategy seeks to promote, protect and preserve.”

      In the light of the above, and looking at the year 2011 and beyond in the
Nigerian political parlance, there are several vigorous challenges which must be
met decisively and effectively if the polity is to endure. The questions of
national identity, national integration, the issues of the legitimacy of authority
and the transformation of Nigerian society into a true political community have
still not been properly and definitively addressed and a lot will depend on when
and how quickly they are asked and answered.

      There is no blue-print to achieve resourceful economic management,
broaden educational opportunity, ensure food security, reduce absolute
poverty, ensure security of lives and properties, promote real (not imagined)
economic    growth,    fight   corruption,   provide   employment     and    equal
opportunities. Instead, treasuries are effortlessly and efficiently looted; people
occupying responsible positions of authority demonstrate such lack of self
control and inability to work with others as a team.

      Nations that assess situations as they unfolded without mercantilist
intentions, according to Paul Mamza, do not fall into self-inflicted fatal accident
of fate like Nigeria. Nigeria is the only country in the planet earth that no
impossibilities of contempt exist even in the latent cusps of absurdities – that is
why, he continued, its citizens were rated the most happiest in the entire world
and yet the most corrupt in the universe and the same reason is responsible
for why the cries of marginalization and oppression are mere imitations of a
smokescreen. No country without the rudiments of a rule of law like Nigeria
would not be vulnerable to perfidies and incriminate hostage of power-

      Why is the Nigerian polity so over-heated, and yet, it is apparently
resilient? Could the Nigerian condition make a quantum transition to a worse
condition, or maybe to a better reality, or could Nigeria simply stagnate ad
infinitum? Is there any need to change the status quo in contemporary
Nigerian politics? Are the rules of engagement in Nigerian politics overdue for
drastic changes? How do we minimize the resultant entropy in the Nigerian
political system? What are the most optimal and workable short-term solutions
that can assure long-term resolution of Nigeria’s political dysfunction?
      At the heart of all these are the economic vicissitudes which have
pulverized   the   nation.   After   fifty   years   of   political   and   (economic?)
independence, our economy has stagnated and the present office holders
continue to blame the military for the country’s woes and hiding behind the
toga of ‘nascent democracy’ which has been in practice for the past thirteen
years. This is about the wellbeing of the population in the extent to which the
economy successfully banishes poverty, want, ignorance and disease. It is,
according to Dr. Mahmud Tukur, about success in wealth creation, prosperity
for the broad masses of the people, security of life and property at home, at
work, on the roads and in social harmony. However, a closer look at the
performance of the politicians for the period covered leaves much to be desired.
Billions upon billions of taxpayers’ money have continued to be siphoned
through official sleaze. Corruption has become pandemic, executive impunity
has become fashionable, and rule of law is only chanted at official gatherings
without a dint of intention for its implementation.

      Insecurity of lives and properties has become rampant in the country,
which is a more reason why we ardently need a viable polity – that is a Nigeria
in which there is free movement of people, goods and services and country in
which residency and participation rights are guaranteed for all Nigerians
wherever they may choose to live. This connectivity is important and has to be
appreciated by elite which has the reputation of greed and selfishness.

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