Sunday, 19 May 2013
Why Democracy And Good Governance Is Not Working In Nigeria/Africa By Abdulrazaq O. Hamzat
Someone might have asked you, or you may have been asking yourself this question: if democracy means all the theoretical, institutional and behavioral dimensions that is usually written in books, why is it that not every country in the world where a democratic government exists operate democracy successfully like it is written? Especially in Africa, democratic governance is not a stable feature of our society, but rather, an episodic phenomenon.
According to studies, there are many reasons why Africa especially have proven incapable of operating stable and successful democratic governance namely, economic underdevelopment and mass poverty, centralization of economic and political power, corruption in its various forms and manifestations and negative historical precedent.
For the purpose of this article, the concentration shall be on economic underdevelopment and mass poverty, which I believe was as a result of
corruption and negative policies. Research has proven that, the main feature of underdevelopment that acts as a barrier to democracy and good governance is the fact that the economy of underdeveloped countries are structurally linked with the economies of the advanced capitalist countries in such a way that the economic activities in the underdeveloped countries produce beneficial and positive results in the advanced countries while creating poverty, misery and negative results in the underdeveloped countries.
Example can be seen in the Nigerian Oil sector, where Nigeria's oil is transported to foreign countries to their economic benefits, but return back to Nigeria in exploitative form whereby creating scarcity and misery, which eventually leads to fuel subsidy which has crippled multimillion small and medium scale businesses over the years, as well as created massive poverty, massive corruption in oil sector and all sort of negative examples too numerous to mention.
It is in this sense that some scholars from developing countries speak in terms of ''the development of underdevelopment''
Studies have shown that, this expression simply means that as the underdeveloped countries try to improve their economic conditions, their situation gets worse or to use another expression, the very negative indices of development that they seek to improve become deeper and more far reaching. It is therefore not surprising that such countries of which Nigeria is one, can hardly operate a stable democratic government, but have to move constantly between democracy and authoritarian rule. This ensures that there is a dysfunction between the goods produced in our country and the goods consumed by our population as well as problems like low life expectancy, incapacity to respond to natural calamities such as the recent floods around the country, etc.
The economic system introduced in Africa by the Europeans was extroverted. Extroversion simple refers to a situation where producers/government officials have their attention fixed on the outside rather than on their national market. Roads/sea ports in Africa were directed more at Europe and America than on our national territory. This situation ensures that every valuable resources, be it mineral, man power, intelligent citizens and historical/ancient valuables are transported abroad.
The uneven nature of European activities in Africa produced some core area of influence and affluence existing in precarious relationship with the vast periphery of rural areas. Another area of note is education, the kind of education introduced to African countries in the colonial era is aimed at producing black European gentlemen rather than well trained engineers and technicians, but till date, most African countries including Nigeria have been unable to shift away from the education of being just a gentleman, to an education which is aimed at national transformation. Education, which not just conceive European based policies but a truly indigenous policy that can actually work and produce the right result needs to be implemented in Africa.
This economic idea also allows advanced countries to impose their own policies on the underdeveloped countries by the use of unfounded, partial and often misguided policies and theories. An example is the removal of the fuel subsidy championed by the Nigerian Minister of Finanace,Mrs Ngozie Okonjo Iweala, who claimed that it was inevitable to the economic stability of Nigeria, a policy which was clearly improvised and is having negative effect both on present and future well-being of the citizens. The subsidy situation came about due to corruption, and without tackling the root cause, has ensured there can never be any progress.
Other studies have pointed to that while the devaluation, economic liberalisation, removal of subsidy etc. can be shown to promote economic growth and development in some particular western countries, their blanket application to underdeveloped countries, like Nigeria, in general helps to keep them impoverished. Where a large number of people are poor, illiterate, hungry and sick, the practice of democracy is rendered virtually impossible for in such a situation, many people are so concerned with meeting their basic needs for food and shelter that they care more or less nothing about political
The relationship between economic underdevelopment and democracy and good governance was shown to be that, as the forces of production
of a society grow, the society is able to accumulate more surpluses from the labour of its members. This surplus value extracted from labour over time makes some societies wealthy and capable of dominating others. When such domination is directed mainly at acquiring private economic gain, then a relationship so established becomes an imperialistic relationship, thereby creating wealth and prosperity for the advanced countries and poverty and underdevelopment for the developing countries. And such poverty and economic underdevelopment stands as a major barrier to the growth and development of democracy in the world.
History says that, since the 19th century, most African countries have been held in a structural relationship to the countries of Europe and America, which has left them underdeveloped. For this reason, these countries have been unable to practice democracy and good governance because they lack the necessary social prerequisites for democratic governance.
In conclusion, for the underdeveloped countries to have any chance of operating a successful democracy and good governance with its principles like other advanced countries, the underdeveloped countries must cut its structural tier and relationship with the advance countries, living a room for a level playing ground and moving at their own pace. Their relationship with the advanced countries must strictly be based on mutual interest and mutual benefit.
Underdeveloped countries must operate as independent entity, independent in government, economy, policies and affiliation.
Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters