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Democracy Day: Nigeria And Her Wobbling Democracy, Lamentations & Solutions 

“….As we mark this year’s democracy, it is necessary our learners consciously reminisce the rough path we have toed and the genuine sacrifices of citizens over the decades in the quest to rebuilding the country into a democratically stable and economically viable state, and assess and rededicate themselves to genuine service to help the country take up the proud roles of the giant she truly is in the black world, not just Africa…..”

Preamble

The foundation for democracy was laid in the 6th century B.C., in the Ancient Greek City State of Athens and became extremely influential in the Mediterranean region into the ancient Roman Republic and other parts of the world.

After decades of colonial rule followed by authoritarian regimes and military dictatorships, the wave of democratic transition swept through Africa, marking a turning point in the political landscape of many African nations like Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya where the jinx of single-party dominance was broken, allowing for a deeper political pluralism and a more conscious citizens participation across the continent.


Nigeria joined the league of democratic nations in 1960, October 1. This was after her lettered public led by notable elites launched the campaign for her independence which became a precursor to her successful detachment from the apron string of Great Britain. And to the pride of her citizens, the Bristish flag was lowered and the green flag hoisted with the new but old national anthem -“Nigeria we hail thee”, renting the air.

Nigeria’s democracy has been fragile and fluctuating at all levels of government. The trend of instability is triggered by fathomable factors such as political competition and communal, ethnic, religious or resource allocation rivalries all of which pose a major threat to democracy. Corruption pervades the daily lives of Nigerians. Many government institutions do not adequately engage with citizens or the private sector and lack the capacity to carry out their mandates.

Although successive governments have made efforts (whether real or cosmetic) to create a sense of national unity in a complex country whose borders were drawn by same British colonialists who lassoed together more than 200 ethnic groups, there appears to be no end in sight for the the laborious search for a rebirth.

Nigeria’s democracy has a long and troubled relationship with its military as almost half of its existence as an independent state has been under the dictatorial regime of her military class who have overthrown three republics through coups since 1960 – and two of the five democratically-elected presidents of Nigeria’s fourth republic headed those military dictatorships – Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) and Mohammadu Buhari (2015-2023).

Leadership; that ingredient so vital for the effective running of every society has failed Nigeria. And after series of laboratory tests and diagnosis to ascertain the depth of damage that has so stagnated every forward movement, resulting to a multi-sectoral barrenness and a pauperized populace to a marked degree; the result has defiled all known mechanisms of interpretation, alarming that the problem of leadership in the context of Nigeria’s own democracy is dangerously complex and microscopically infectious and legion.

In addition to the factors earlier listed, analysts have proffered many reasons for the perpetual failure of democracy in Nigeria, notable amongst them are-the erosion of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary or, at least, its being cowed into submission by individuals who are more powerful than public institutions; the absence of structures and institutions that can redress the mutual fears and suspicions of Nigeria’s diverse ethnic groups; reckless misrule by a corrupt and morally bankrupt political ruling class.

A sizable majority of the political class in Nigeria can be aptly described as ‘anti-democrats, who, like the proverbial dog, will chase every bone no matter how humiliatingly presented’ with the chief motive of simply acquiring power by any means. Rather than facilitate democracy, members of Nigerian politics class do no more than ‘dam the waters of democratic and social reform’.

Painfully, for majority of them, democracy means no more than transition from military to civilian rule, with the politicians in charge of the federal purse. There are no credible theoreticians or political philosophers among this class, however, they have many self-appointed tacticians and strategists whose main preoccupation is to design winning coalitions through ingenious schemes such as zoning and electoral rigging – Nyesom Wike on my mind.

The democratic project in Nigeria is a distortion, nay, a corruption of what the concept of democracy represents in other climes especially, the small Ancient Greek city-state where it was first practiced; it is antithetical to the ethos of rule of law, social justice and basic human rights. Simply put, democracy in Nigeria is but a mountain of illusion, palpitating in the web of debacle.

Do we call it democracy where meritocracy has been sacrificed in the altar of mediocrity? Democracy where law promulgators are law violators? Democracy where public servants find it right to indulge in fanfare of squander mania leaving the people they claim to represent without a hint of remorse? Or democracy where the pendulum of justice is tilted in favour of the highest bidder? – the judicial rascality that prominently featured in Rivers State during the administration of Nyesom Wike as Governor is crucial to an understanding of the damning effect of Nigeria’s democracy on the country’s jurisprudence.

In countries where democracy is held in high esteem and leadership reserved for people of proven integrity, characters like Wike have no business anywhere around even a million miles to the minimum leadership position; but after his flamboyant display of prodigality with public fund, coupled with his impudent manipulation of election outcomes especially the 2023 election in Rivers which was a departure from even the lowest character benchmark for elections measuring from the Nigerian standard, he was rewarded with a Ministerial position; same man who should be spending the rest of the few years left in his earthly sojourn in the slammer.

Nigeria’s insane democratic pattern has turned politics into a safe playground for men of low pedigree with dented trajectories who understands very little or nothing about the currency of character and it’s worth but only concerned about material possession at the detriment of the poor majority whose interest they claim to represent.

For instance, sometime around December 2023, 27 Lawmakers from Rivers State defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the political platform under which they (through whatever means – whether hook or crook) emerged as Lawmakers and joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). They announced there defection on the floor of the hallowed chambers and on a latter date held an elaborate event at the glare of the whole world where they formally denounced their marriages with their former party -PDP and embraced their new found love -APC. Consequent upon that and in line with Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution of Nigeria, their seats were declared vacant and the vacuum created by their exit was brought to the knowledge of the country’s election umpire who till date has kept mum on the matter.

As unpredictable as Nigeria’s democracy has deteriorated and as characterless as players in the political playground could be, these same 27 former Lawmakers, in a dramatic move, have shamelessly come out to say they never defected and even sponsored men to court in a bid to add legitimacy to their new twist even when evidence abound (pictorial and video clips) of their defection uptill the time they met with Mr. President to inform him of their defection to his party. The 27 Lawmakers are currently stranded.

CONCLUSION:

As we mark this year’s democracy, it is necessary our learners consciously reminisce the rough path we have toed and the genuine sacrifices of citizens over the decades in the quest to rebuilding the country into a democratically stable and economically viable state, and assess and rededicate themselves to genuine service to help the country take up the proud roles of the giant she truly is in the black world, not just Africa.

Despite our wobbling democracy and failed leadership, Nigeria We Hail Thee!

What do you think?

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Written by Nike

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