Rating Nigeria’s democracy on World International Day of Democracy

 

In a pure democracy, elected leaders simply carry out the wishes of the voters, while securing the absolute sovereignty of its territories from outside forces.

Since its independence from colonialists on October 1, 1960, Nigeria has gone through different political transitions. It has witnessed the birth and death of three republics. It’s progress has been thwarted by violent military takeovers, ethnic and religious violence, corruption and other social unrest. Recently, it was battered by the cold whips of recession.

With calls for restructuring emanating from different indigenous groups, and considering the fate of a nation that many would say is hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff, not forgetting the neglect of equal representation as stipulated by the Federal Character Commission (FCC) Act promulgated in 1995, and later fused into the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), it seems there is cause to raise questions concerning Nigeria’s practice of true democracy.

The Act stipulates in its Part 1 that (1) “Each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory shall be equitably represented in all public enterprises and organization”.

(2) “The best and the most competent person shall be recruited from each state of the federation to fill positions reserved for the indigenes of the FCT”.

Today, September 15, being the World International Day of Democracy, is a significant day to examine Nigeria’s progress in its 19 years as a democratic nation.

Paul Francis, a 73-year-old trader at Wuse Market, believes democracy, as a system of government, has come of age in Nigeria but cannot spread its tentacles due to the evil claws of corruption.

“Democracy has come of age in Nigeria because there is no more military interruption, though one thing that keeps pulling Nigeria down is corruption,” he said.

“Everybody wants to get to the helm, get what they can, and leave. There is crisis here and there, but it is certain that democracy has definitely reached its maturity phase in this nation.

“If we are being frank with ourselves, we need to put some certain things together. We have to avoid sentiments, religion and ethnic differences, this is the best way to combat the bad blood flowing.

“Projects left by predecessors should be completed. Let’s curb the craving to award new contracts when previous ones are still underway or not finished. Only then and then alone will the widespread national agitations be nipped in the bud.”

Also, Celestine Onuorah, an Abuja resident, said there are lot of things amiss in the country but rather than make amends, we imitate other established nations like America in our system of governance while overlooking the things we need to do.

“In a country that your freedom of expression could be threatened so easily, who is to say that your right to existence cannot be equally snatched from you?” he asked, visibly getting emotional.

“We need to address the issue of geopolitical neglect. We need to start listening to those who feel they are being marginalized, sit down and negotiate properly.”

However, Danjuma a 45-year-old merchant, said the country’s democracy is still immature.

“Democracy in Nigeria cannot be said to have come of age, when what we have is just rulers and not leaders,” he said.

“Nigeria is not a parade ground; democracy should not be substituted for autocracy. We are past the era of dictators. But in a nation where we have majority of top officials as retired generals, what then is our fate?

“Since they are retired, they ought to be the ones directing younger troops on the different drills in the army to safeguard the nation; the affairs of the state should be the affairs of the state and not otherwise. Our rulers are taking the judiciary as child’s’ play, the same people that swore you in, you have turned into slaves.”

In addition, he urged the ruling class to work according to the purpose of democracy — for the people by the people.

“In a democratic nation were the teachers are neglected, where do you think we are headed for? Where rage and bitterness for the polity is what fuel their determination?” he asked.

He said that democracy could not have possibly come of age with only old and tired people controlling the affairs of the state.

“When you have a son whose level of productivity is way above yours, then it is time to write a will and step down for him instead of butting heads with him,” he added.

“Our leaders need to own up to their level of productivity in this country, else kidnapping, armed robbery and other social vices are just the beginning of our problems.”






     

     

    Usoro Favour, an importer, also told the ICIR that although Nigeria has not attained an ultimate position to be compared to most developed countries in terms of infrastructure, the Muhammadu Buhari administration deserves some plaudit.

    “Nigeria’s democratic rule has done a lot. Compared to other democracies, I would say Nigeria is still a babe,” he said.

    “But we’re coming up. I don’t think the youths have been marginalized either, especially in the current administration.”

    While some say Nigeria’s disintegration of Nigeria is but a hair’s breadth away, it still does not negate the fact that today, the World International Democracy Day, Nigeria pat itself on the back for the baby steps it has taken through the decades.

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