Is Democracy Really For The People?
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Those who invented democracy described it as government of the people, for the people by the people. While it may well be true in civilised countries, the truth is that it is a big fraud here in Nigeria. It is arguable that democracy is really not about the generality of
the people, but about the people in government, who at the expense of the generality of the people, use the powers conferred on them by democracy to build towers of Babylon for themselves.
Ironically, while it has made life generally brutish, nasty and short and a veritable source of impoverishment, backwardness and disaster to the generality of the people, it is a pot of honey; an Eldorado of gargantuan proportion to the people in government who use the machinery of democracy, not only to position themselves, but also to secure the future of their children's children.
While the generality of the people are daily confronted with lack and disease and even live from hand to mouth, those in government, who are a creation of democracy, live in stupendous wealth. In the name of democracy, they live in mansions in choice areas of the cities maintained by tax payers and drive exotic cars bought from our common resources. In spite of all these, at the end of the month, they get fat salaries and allowances also from our common resources. In addition there is more than enough to steal from the common treasury. While infrastructures have been totally neglected, the roads leading to their houses and their loved ones and other infrastructures enjoyed by them are well maintained.
Meanwhile, before the advent of democracy, some of them now in government, who now live larger than life, were mere taxi drivers and were perpetually on the credit list of the food vendors in their neighbourhood. Some of them could not even afford to pay the school fees of their children. But when democracy came, it became like the ark of Noah; they ran into it to avoid the impending doom staring them in the face. Through democracy, which offered them free fund and heavy political patronage, they managed to navigate out of the hardship of life. Today, their children no longer go to those cheap schools, which hitherto charged paltry school fees and allowed them to pay in bits and pieces because of their pitiable circumstances. But now, they have enough resources to send their children to schools abroad. While the generality of the people are faced with insecurity, a strong wall of Jericho is built around the people in government and their family and they go about with escorts to protect their loot.
Although unemployment is rife, it is only so among the generality of the people. It will never be so with those who are well connected with the people in government. Or have you ever heard that the children of a senator or the people in government have no job?
When there was no democracy through which they became senators, honourable members and big time politicians, like all of us, they all squeezed their children into public universities, where they too graduated from. Having emasculated those institutions and rendered them completely prostate because of inadequate funding and policy summersault, they set up private universities with the money stolen from public so that those of them who want their children to be around to inherit their political fortune will have a befitting institution in Nigeria for their education. They know that the academic environment created by them cannot guarantee good education for anyone just as it is not certain when the academic calendar will run its full cycle per session. They know that all the monies meant for the development of education have been appropriated for their comfort and extreme indulgence.
Suffice to say that there is nothing in the land they have not appropriated to themselves in the name of democracy. Call yourself an international contractor, you will not get any contract from government. As a matter of fact, all the contractors of yesteryears have been rendered redundant and have closed shops. Contract is not meant for just any human being. It is the preserve of the people in government or their cronies. It is the pastime of the senators, the ministers and all the big time politicians who would either award to themselves or harass those who are to do the award to give it to them. What this means is that every good of the land belongs, in the name of democracy, to the people in government.
Before democracy, they were our brothers and we jeered and booed the military government together. We called them thieves together. We fantasized together that with democracy all would be well. And when democracy came, they cajoled us to embrace it promising heaven and earth that in matters of time, our lives would witness radical transformation. They made us to clap for them as they raised our hope with soothing words. Yes, there was radical transformation but they did not democratise it. Only they profited from the transformation. Although they preached deregulation in every aspect, they did not deregulate the transformation; only in their camp did we see the evidence of the radical transformation.
Those of them who were taxi drivers before democracy gave them the chance to enter the government house began to live larger than life. Those of them who were daily pursued about by creditors now have so much money that they can even afford to lose as much as N9 million to their drivers. To make matters worse, they lock their phones, gates, doors and other means of access against the same people on whose back they rode to stupendous wealth, the people for whom they say democracy exists and is described as 'government of the people'. They now see them as 'peculiar mess', irritants and bloody nuisance.
Kunle Fadipe is a legal practitioner in Lagos.