Solomon Agbator

June 12: Is Nigeria actually practicing Democracy?

By Martins Adedeji

In the words of President Muhammadu Buhari, today marks the 21 years of uninterrupted civilian administrations in Nigeria.
True saying.
Democracy day June 12 reminds us every year of the struggles of our leaders and their pains as well as the unity of Nigerians in speaking against the ills of failed military dictators.

Today we do not just remember the struggles of the late chief M.K.O Abiola but we remember the scores of people who protested in different states of the federation. The number of people who died speaking the truth and fighting dictators who held the country leadership hostage. We celebrate our founding fathers who were the first nationalist leaders who rose up to the challenge of saving this country.

Today my write up is based on our supposed democracy. Considering the state of our beloved country since June 12 1993 to this present day Nigeria.
Can we honestly and sincerely say we are actually practicing democracy in Nigeria?

No consensus exists on how to define the world democracy, but legal equality, political freedom and rule of law have been identified as it important characteristics. Democrats generally support a progressive tax system, higher minimum wages, social security, universal health care, public education, and public housing.These principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to political processes.

From the above, it can be deduced that we are far from democracy in Nigeria and what we practice is not different from the military junta system. We only tag it democracy merely as an act of name calling but not by principles.

The first characteristics of democracy is ELECTIVE REPRESENTATION, where the people of a state elect representatives who govern them. Not just to elect but the election must be seen as free and fair.

I can confidently say that from the annulled June 12 election till the last general election.
Most of our elections in Nigeria is usually full of malpractices, rigging, Electoral body favouritism, votes buying, electoral violence, “Election tribunals Technicality” and to crown it all declaration of inconclusive elections.

It is a story of an election conducted with major political parties seeking for means to rig. The best rigger wins. This is not associated to one tenure of government but all the civilian administration have been guilty of this. Nigerians themselves have become slaves of politicians, selling their four years right of governance for a token sum of #2,000 (it could be lesser or higher, it all depends on the lavishness of the political party or the candidate). The inconclusive declarations is just something I don’t want to talk about.

Civil liberties are the bedrock of any democracy. However, in Nigeria citizens cannot exercise their freedom of speech without fear. Even as I’m writing this, it is with fear that someone in government may call for my arrest or ask me to remain mute. We have witnessed journalists being killed, threatened or prosecuted for unveiling the truth they don’t want us to hear or know about.

In this same country, human right is based on who you are and the position you hold or the amount of wealth you’ve accrued weather legally or illegally. Special privileges and immunity are given to certain minority at the expense of the majority.Anything that concerns the masses usually takes long to be addressed.

It doesn’t take more than one sittings for legislatures to approve billions for their private vehicles and payment of their exploitative allowances but it takes several sittings to approve the increment of minimum wage or to make a bill for the protection of citizens lives and properties. Some state legislature are even finding it hard to domesticate the child right act but they can easily fight for who becomes principal officers

It was in the same Nigeria that a senator invaded the house and took away the maze. A senator also once molested a woman, another convicted of corruption. They are all still senators in this country. This can’t happen in a sane country.

Furthermore, our judicial system is far from independent. The judiciary is not the third tier of government in Nigeria.
It is the slave body of the executive and the junior arm of government to the legislature.
Judiciary that cannot perform its duty without fear or favour, is that one judiciary?

Nepotism, tribalism and favouritism are the requirements for appointments of judicial officers not merit. Judiciary that conflict itself in it judgement and decisions just to satisfy the ruling class?, Judiciary that is not free from the control of the executive and Legislature in terms of allocations? If I start to talk of all the ills in the judiciary, you will weep for the arm of government that would have saved us from all the vices we experience.
The judiciary which should be the hope of the common man is not even respected. Many courts decisions and judgement are not adhered to. A government that do not obey the decisions of the court is that one democratic?

Where I think we have failed mostly is the roles of organized opposition party.
Opposition party in Nigeria is as good as dead. Opposition party that cannot dig up and call out ills without hypocrisy. Opposition party in other democratic country of the world are known to be very checkmating tools of the government but in Nigeria, it is a system of same circles of leaders in different political parties.

Finally, we need to understand that beyond infrastructures and security of lives and properties. There is no democracy in Nigeria if some set of people are above the law of the country. How can a president deny a state of their allowance and still tell them publicly I don’t have any money to give you.

How can a president grants amnesty to terrorists and bandits just because they are from his region and asked “python to dance” in another state. Isn’t it absurd for us to shamelessly claim we are practicing democracy.

It is beyond just saying we’ve had 21 years of uninterrupted civilian rule but has it been practiced according to the features of democracy.
Someone said and I quote “There is nothing good to celebrate about Democracy because we are still in military regime. If you call this thing democracy then you are insulting other countries that are practicing a true democracy”. It is not democracy when Journalists are denied their Press right.
Citizens denied Judicial and Legal rights (freedom of speech).
Votes doesn’t count!
Courts decides who wins Elections!

We can do better. God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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