Are we in Democracy?


 Our thought was joy

But, its democracy of  coy

Politics without principles

Wealth without work

Right without responsibilities

Fuel hike today, tomorrow worker strike

Calamities in it administration

Coupled disguise representation

Economy and social maladies

And malaise no remedies

Hungry hawk and hawkish wash the innocents

Executive of assailants and no judicial arriangments

Hmm! Poverty promotion policy

 And we are in democracy?

As a nation, we have come of age, having our share of military, autocratic and dictatorial government which has rather enhance development, but contributed to the woes bedevilling us today. On May 29, 1999, we succeeded, sending the military back to the barracks. Nigerians were hoisted high with hopes that votes will count, press will be free, and our rights will be protected. The hope was indeed high and so were the promises.

Soon after May 29, our leaders became embroiled amassing public treasury, subverting judicial pronouncements and all hues of anti-democratic practices. We have not internalised the virtues of democracy which connotes “government of the people” the implications? Ethno religious crisis, militancy and a moment ago the Boko Haram pain in the neck.

In Nigeria, the dividends of democracy is not producing good roads, uninterrupted power supply, security of lives and property rather, it yielded; corruption, electoral violence, and eventually poverty. Pessimism and cynicism are widespread in evaluating the Nigerian democracy and the hoi polloi are forced to ask; are we in democracy? But, why is the Nigerian democracy a vision utopian? Vision 2050:20, I guess!

Beginning from the late 1980s and particularly in the 1990s, there were numerous mass agitations against military regimes and popular insistence on the restoration of democracy. Impetus for this development came from frustration and impoverishment experienced as an upshot of the downturn in the economy and acute hardship occasioned by different dictatorial governments.

We felt that the absence of democracy in Nigeria for over thirty three years heartened the short of answerability. We advocated for antidote, squabbling with the intention of democracy with its in-built accountability would lead to responsibility and so, high level of growth. At that time, we were of the same view with Claude Ake who posits that “Africa needs democracy not only because democracy is desirable in itself but because it will greatly facilitate development.”

Democracy, for the distressed Nigerians and as foretold by the struggles of the pro-democracy groups, was not about continued existence and muddling-through under intense deprivation of the state, to a certain extent, and hankered after virtuous ascendancy to convalesce our living order. Hence, we look up to democracy for a better deal. The people coveted change and democracy was no more than pleasing. On May 29, 1999, to a large extent there were ecstasy and respite in the land.

 Thirteen years downhill, the hope smidgen, our anticipations awed. The alienation that hitherto existed between government and the people receded. Past a decade, there is still much ruckus in the political pitch. In the hands of our leaders, democracy seems directionless navigating from the road that leads to the promise land whereas, the drivers seem bewildered.

Democracy, it can be said, is like a seed! Essentially, what you sow is what you reap in oodles.  The genetically engineered seed planted by successive military regime under dubious transition to civil rule germinated. As a substitute of yielding peace, stability, security of live and property, job for the jobless and hope for the hopeless, one share reaped by Nigerians ever since the transfer of power to civilian government is the rising spate insecurity, with devastating consequences on lives and property.

How free are Nigerians to choose whom they will to serve them? The question is indubitably not, how free are Nigerians to vote? Nigerians are free to vote, made obvious time and again. On the contrary, how keen we are to choose who would serve us, deferred us. Freedom to vote equals freedom to choose if and only if the vote counts. Recent elections put on view patent facts that votes don’t count. Democracy- “government by the people” eluded Nigerians. I beg your pardon, what else?

What went wrong? The democracy we longed was of sincere representation and participation by measures of objectivity, equity, and justice. It was of propos accountability and good governance. I mean responsive and responsible leadership and consequently, the therapy to sleazes. “Freedom and equality”, “greatest happiness of the greatest number” the gospels democracy hunts for is murky in the Nigerian milieu. However, power is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy few giving them boundless privilege and preponderant political influences, making them grasp democracy as unlimited freedom. Hmm! Freedom indeed!

Our breed of democracy was a militarily conditioned, controlled and directed project, more of a function of contagion effect of global and African process and conditionality than a product of popular consent with internalised democratic norms and value-orientations. The militarisation posed a big obstacle of the institutionalisation and conceptualisation of this democracy. These are the implications of prolonged military rule and its damaging legacies are a major source of concern for sustainable democratisation in Nigeria. Since May 29, 1999, till date, Nigeria has been under one Milivian or Civiltary government. I felt so bad!

The leech, corruption! Like the biblical proverb, what the ‘norm’ has fastened together, no law seems adept to lay parity.  Corruption is akin to, and has gnawed the Nigerian democracy to flourish.   Corruption is more than what a Yoruba would call “Egunje”. It sabotages the time-honoured rule; ultimately, some benefits would trickle in reciprocity. It dents the capacity to act, rears sycophancy, godfatherism and marginalise the struggle for democracy. Facts admitted? Then no further proof!

Since the inception of democracy, successive government made very bold and commendable statements about their determination to curb corruption in the public sector. Nonetheless, this is yet to translate into any concrete action that can inspire confidence in our democracy. The order is that of executive of assailants and no judicial arraignments.

We are still bent and break by inflation, our roads are death traps, our schools are still shadows of future moulders, our students still clueless graduate and our teachers had lost will. On streets, shanty joints and overcrowded lots. We still kowtow the yearnings of deep pockets while dictators feed fat. The integuments : no wit monkey! We are still cramp of pretentious policies with no helpful foreign policy. No electricity, no humanity. Still, we summon grit and engage in idle rant. And we are in democracy?

200 Level,
Islamic and Common Law, Lagos State University (LASU).




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