At 58, Our Democracy Must Be Sustained


As we celebrate our 58th independent anniversary this year, I am of the opinion that, it will be very crucial for us as citizens to look at where we are coming from; where we are; where we ought to be; and where we are heading.

As a matter of frankness, we will only be deceiving ourselves to say that things are moving on smoothly in the country today because we are still very far from where we ought to be.

Though they say `Rome was not built in a day; the underlying fact remains that the Romans successfully built their city to be a positive reference point because of their resoluteness, patriotism, commitment and consistency.

We cannot continue the way we are going and expect to build any meaningful legacies for the coming generations.

Consequently, this review will delve briefly on the past to understanding the present and, making recommendations for the future.

At this point, it is very important to mention that the pivotal factor to the development of any society is `good governance.`

It is the all essential hinge upon which other factors revolve.

Thus, we cannot talk of good governance without having to put a responsive and people oriented system in place.

Though, it is not limited to a particular style of government; democracy has been generally accepted to be the most populous and people`s friendly form of government that encourages good governance.

Little wonder why Nigerians fought tooth and nail since independence (1960) towards sustaining it despite intermittent military interventions.

We will identify some factors bedeviling democracy in our country and the need to do away with them as antidotes to achieving good governance.

After the attainment of this Fourth Republic in 1999, one would have expected that our leaders and the citizenry will guide it jealously considering the huge problems that were encountered in the process; unfortunately, that is not the case.

It is very disheartening that the country is still finding it difficult to stabilise talk-less of making any concrete efforts to building `its own Rome; because the people have turned the democratic process to a game of sport without standardised ethical rules and values.

As a result, the expected good governance has eluded the people.

Consequently, one of the cardinal objectives of democracy (which is the security of lives and properties of the citizenry) has become an illusion in some parts of the country.

Just few days ago some lives and properties were wasted `as usual` in Rukubar area of Jos, Plateau State.

It is incomprehensible that, in this 21st century where other countries are competing to undo one another in every area of robust achievements and advancements; ours is still at the level of fighting insecurity.

It is either we are busy negotiating or even begging Boko Haram fighters to release our abducted school girls; or, debating on the true identities of the so called `herdsmen` that are maiming, killing and destroying lives and properties with impunity despite the relentless efforts of our gallant security personnel.

Presently, the lives of the citizenry are not as secured as those of birds in a poultry farm.

Unfortunately, instead coming together to join forces against these ills in our country; our leaders and members of the opposition are always trading blames and they are preoccupied with how they must win all elections in the country without minding the welfare and safety of the masses.

This is a far cry from what is attainable in better organised systems where members of the ruling party and the opposition parties always rise above narrow partisan considerations for the national interests.

Thus, the moment a government is formed; the legislatures (from different parties) always jettison parochial partisan considerations for the overall interests and good governance of the country and the citizenry in accordance to the laid down principles of the Rule of Law.

In our own situation, we are still at the level of threatening to committing suicide instead of having members of a minority party heading the National Assembly.

Consequently, rather than ensuring the protection and sustenance of democracy (the surest avenue to achieving good governance); our politicians and the people are still finding it difficult to getting things right.

In the immediate past, it was militarisation of elections; and today, electoral malpractices have taken more scaring dimensions.

It is worrisome that after over 25 years, our leaders have not been able to organised an election that could be compared to the record breaking legacy of the Babangida`s administration.

I know that a lot of people will raise eyebrows because of its eventual annulment; that cannot still take away its shine as the freest, fairest and most peaceful election that was conducted in this country.

The issue of annulment was a product of an administration that ruled by decree and, there was little or nothing that could have been done constitutionally to overturn the decision.

This was due to the fact that the country`s constitution was suspended as at the time and as was the tradition under military rule.

The recent declaration of `June 12` as `Democracy Day` is an attestation of a legacy that cannot be denied the IBB`s administration.

The best thing for us to do is to be guided by the positives and the shortcomings.

Be that as it may, it should be a thing of concern to all well meaning Nigerians that we have not been able to replicate this achievement for over 25 years and still counting.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the recently concluded elections in Ekiti and Osun states have generated reservations from different quarters because they are alleged to be enmeshed in malpractices.

In as much as I still consider those allegations as hearsays; my advice to the aggrieved political parties and candidates is to remain calm and law abiding.

Where there are strong and compelling evidence of wrong doings, go to the Electoral Tribunals/Courts for redress; and, you should be rest assured that our judiciary remains the citadel of dispensing justice as appropriate.

Therefore, I wish to say congratulations to those who abided by the rules in the conduct of the exercises; you have done very well and posterity will surely be fair to you.

For those that did not play by the rules; be rest assured that the judgment day is near.

Always remember that aside from the legal justice; there is also a retributive justice that will surely catch up with all your actions in due course.

If you continue to say `It must be this` or `it must be that`; it will surely get to a point where the `Giver of life` will say `this is how I want it to be` So, you should always be very careful and mindful of your words and actions.

Also of great concern and immense threat to democracy and good governance are such incidence as invasion of the hallowed chamber by `yet to be identified, prosecuted and convicted persons` to disrupt plenary session and remove the mace; the laying of sieges on the homes of principal officers of NASS as well as blockage of the entrance of NASS by security operatives; the pull-down syndrome and antics of the opposition and enemies of the government; the promotion of tribal and religious bigotry on all available platforms on social media; alleged bias and selected fight against corruption; and alleged intimidation of members of the opposition to mention but a few.

These actions are anti progressive in all ramifications and they should never be condoned in our country.

Interestingly, a good number of our so called educated elites have remained mum without coming out to condemn all these acts which are capable of undermining our democratic process.

They are always shying away from saying it as it is.

This fact was recently confirmed by Mr. President when he condemned such people for not saying anything when the previous administrations were mismanaging the affairs of the country.

My advice is for them to always be bold enough to say something when they see something for the overall benefit of our country.

Oise-Oghaede, public policy analyst/commentator, wrote from Surulere, Lagos.

From the above, you will agree with me that this is the time for all of us to join hands together as committed, selfless and patriotic citizens regardless of political affiliations and standings towards ensuring that our democracy is guided jealously and sustained.

This will surely guarantee an all inclusive and indivisible country that is devoid of mutual suspicions and other societal vices.

As I have always stated, my writes up are informed by burning patriotic tendencies and hunger to contributing my quota to the development of our country.

I always try earnestly to say it as it is; and, as it ought to be for the betterment of all.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.