I can argue it to eternity that the current system the government of Nigeria is practicing is not a democracy. Counting from the Third Republic I mean 1999, Nigeria’s ‘acclaimed democracy’ is now 13 years old. And if at this period, Nigeria independence, which is 51 years, can be said to be in its infancy. I cannot imagine what adjective will satisfactorily qualify the Nigerian 13 year’s old democracy. Perhaps, it will be described as a democracy yet to be ejaculated into the uterus of it mother. I will be sad if the masses can claim that, throughout these periods, they have got the much touted dividends of democracy. I think I have no reason to be sad because the fact is, as at today, the masses cannot claim to have enjoyed any dividends of democracy.
The idea of democracy is traced back to the ancient Greece which practiced direct democracy in which ‘the whole citizen body formed the legislature’ because ‘then representative democracy system was unknown. For the sake of clarity, the word ‘democracy’ itself is the combination of the two Greek words; ‘demos’ which means ‘people’ and ‘kratein’ meaning ‘rule’. After the fall of the Greek city-states 2000 years back, that buried democracy was exhumed by Abraham Lincoln, the former President of the United State of America, in his famous Gettysburg address delivered in November 19, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he said ‘ it is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’. This idea of his became the most popular definition of democracy.
If you will be patient enough to hear me to the last, you will understand. It is posited that there are five basic rudiments without which no country can claim to be practicing democracy. These are; equality, sovereignty of the people, respect for human life, the rule of law and liberty of the individual. I do not mean to burden, but can you help me highlight any one of these elements that exists in Nigeria. Count them, how many?
It is no more a democracy when the political repression turned politics into warfare and a ‘do or die affair’ thereby undermining issue of development of the state. It is no more a democracy either when the leaders disconnected themselves from the citizen and even detaches public policy from social and basic needs of the citizens. Neither is it a democracy when the constant economic coercion of the citizens has made them become estranged from the state and the government is seen as a force to be feared nor is it a democracy when the leaders cherish enormous waste of human resources and concentrate on amassing wealth for their great grand children yet to be born at the expense of the citizenry. At this juncture too, I will not like to trouble you, but let me ask you in a manner you will understand, which one of these does not exist in Nigeria? Shh! Keep the answer to yourself I do not need it.
One of the cardinals of democracy is free and fair election. This is the platform through which the citizens elect those who will represent them. But take the memory lane backward, how many Governors can you assuredly say that won the Election of 2007 based only on the votes casted for them by the electorates? How many Governors were later brought in by the intervention of the Nigerian Election Petition Tribunals? If you do not remember any others, at least you can remember Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of Osun State, Ayo Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State, Adams Oshiomolo, the Governor of Edo State, Olusegun Mimiko, the Governor of Edo State, and a host of others. Now, if you cannot remember all these cases, were you aware when the former President Umar Musa Yar’dua publicly admitted that the election that brought him into office was mercifully rigged? And do you still believe that there is free and fair election in Nigeria?
That one apart, the next is the issue of welfare of citizens and their fundamental Human rights. Can you alone, without the influence of anybody, decide when and when not to meet the counsellor of your area; the chairman of your local government; the governor of your state not to talk of Mr. Mighty President at the dungeon in Aso Rock, in Abuja? Besides, do you know the number of people that sustained injury while exercising their rights to protest against the removal of subsidy? If you do not know, one citizen Opobiyi was reported dead on 5th January, 2012 in Ilorin Kwara State consequent to the protest on removal of subsidy. Did you read the Nation News Paper and what the police said was the cause of his death? Did you believe it? Once more, on 9th January, 2012 one Ademola Adesin Tobi aged 28 was shot dead in Lagos by a member of Nigeria Police Force, while playing football. On the same spot, one Samuel Egbuyor, 23, Abubakar Alimi, 24 and Joy Monday, 20 were all wounded. Do you know whether some people still died somewhere? Is this democracy?
Since my Secondary school days I have learnt that in democratic system majority carries the vote. And if I may ask, do you know the number of Nigerians clamouring for the removal of subsidy? Do you know the number of those insisting that subsidy should not be removed? Do you know that their conditions are not the same? Is this still a democracy?
Okay if you feel you do not understand the above questions; let me ask you in manner you will understand. You too, look steadily around you then fix the ‘Nigerian Democracy’ into the context any definition of democracy you know - any compatibility? Is Nigerian Democracy a government of the people? Do you have a say at all? Is it still of a government by the people when the Big Brothers in election rigging have not given it a quit? Is the government for the people- you and I? Count from one to three, how many times have you gotten the dividend of democracy?
To my mind, Nigerians, myself inclusive, need a definition for the type of system of government we are practicing. But I am afraid we may have to wake the past political thinkers and theorists from their graves or probably conjure their spirit for this purpose. If I have read the current situations of things in Nigeria in a book, I would not hesitate to tag it to be a fallacy. But what can I say now when all these are happening before my very eye? My dear reader(s), please, once more help me answer this last question. I know this cannot be democracy. And you may not agree with me, but if I may ask, do you consider this to be an ideal democracy? If the answer is yes, why? And if no, then what is your own definition of the system of government Nigeria is practicing?