Democracy in Nigeria and its future
Nigeria is the largest democratic nation in the Africa. Democracy has been regarded as an ideal form of government in which people are governed by their own elected representatives. It is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is a people's government in which the voice of the people is supreme and where the laws are fashioned according to their wishes. The question whether democracy has a future in Nigeria has aroused grave concern among our educated ones. Even the most pious optimist believes that our democracy has a bleak future. It can have a future only when our politicians cease to be power mongers.
After, achieving independence our national leaders, who were born democrats and adherent supporters of the poor masses, set-up a democratic form of government for Nigeria. Their dreams were to see that even the highest office of the land could be held by the humblest citizen. That every citizen of Nigeria, without any distinction based on grounds of tribe, creed, religion, property or sex has a right to vote and be voted for, but seems there effort and struggle is already in vain. With every sector crumbling, one wonders what the future really holds for our dear motherland. Tolerance is the essence of democracy. Judiciary is its backbone. One after the other leaders of today has been showing their firm faith in the unity of the Nation. But the common man finds these very leaders, with knives of different size and shape putting deep scars on the face of the motherland.
There is a gap between promise and performance. We enjoy every right in theory, but not in practice. The idea of a socialistic pattern of society has remained a dream. Real democracy will come into being only when the masses are awakened and take part in the economic and political life of the country. Nigeria today is a rich man's democracy. Our democracy is a democracy of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. The implementation of laws is almost nil in most of the parts of the country. If they are honestly implemented Nigeria will have been a dream land for other nations, but the reverse is the case in our society. The National Assembly and State Assemblies enact laws and pass them on to the administration not for their execution but for their non-execution.
Our national leaders introduced adult franchise with one stroke of pen when 85% of our people were illiterate. It was a fool proof experiment to start with. Universal basic education should precede adult franchise. Election is always a costly affair and the lure of money works wonders especially among illiterate ones. The absence of an organized opposition the party in power resorts to dishonest means. No single party in Nigeria can claim to be really democratic.
Violence has taken a serious turn in our country. Bunds, strikes, misuse of legislative privileges do not augur well for democracy. Defection from one party to the other on selfish and flimsy grounds has added to the instability of the government in our country. It is bad on both moral and political ground. There is no sphere of national life which can be described to be free from corruption. At the political level everyone ministers, legislators, party officials suffer from it. Our democracy has miserably failed on different front, agriculture, home, foreign etc. The result is that it is dubbed as monocracy or democracy.
The masses are illiterate. They abuse their votes. They are easily bought by the capitalists. No democracy can succeed until there is widespread education and enlightenment among the people. Our democracy is capitalistic. Here the rich exploit the poor who have no voice or share in the democratic structure. Democracy is on its trial now. Democracy has not failed. It is we who have failed. If we develop democratic spirit, temper, and character and become Nigerians in true sense, it can certainly become a success. The future of democracy will be bright only when our people possess national character, consciousness and responsibility. Intellectuals should come forward and create better society with a true democratic spirit prepared to march further in a democratic way. It is still in the childhood, yet the hope for the future is bright.
Comrade Ahmed Omeiza Lukman,
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