A Note On Nigerian Democracy, BY Idris Evuti
Democracy is a system of government that allows the citizens to participate in the political process. This can be through periodic elections, referendums and other means of interest aggregation etc. Most nations in the world have adopted the democratic system of government; because of its tendencies to enshrine freedom, fairness and justice for all. Again, democratic regimes are generally believed to bring about micro and macroeconomic improvements: because democracy also entails opening up of the market space, by and large, encouraging private investments and foreign direct investments.
When leaders emerge through the ballot, the expectations are usually the preservation of accountability and transparency; which eventually leads to development. This hypothesis is beaconed on the fact that democracy is a system of government build on institutions and the rule of law. That is, strong institutions and adherence to the rule of law are fundamental to democracy; because they ensure checks and balances.
The Nigerian democracy operates on three arms of government. These are the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government respectively. The legislative arm is saddled with the responsibility of making the laws and enactment of other governmental instruments. While, the executive has the responsibility of executing the laws through the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects. And on the other hand, the judiciary interprets the laws and ensures equality before the law.
For the smooth running of government, these arms are supposed to function independently. But in Nigeria the relationship between these arms has been lopsided; with the legislature and judiciary depending more on the executive, especially in terms of finance. Although, scholars and legal luminaries have argued that the 1999 constitution being practised is largely responsible for this. This is because the constitution was drafted and ‘imposed’ on Nigerians by the military. And because of the high level of command – and –order nature of the military; they vested more powers on the executive arm.
Having briefly examined what democracy is! What then could be the position of Nigeria on a democratic scale? To begin with, the ability of a nation to conduct credible elections; to a larger extend, tells a lot on the manner of democracy in practise. Since our return to democracy in 1999, elections in Nigeria have bared our democracy – negatively. It is in this light that the late president Umaru Yar’adua admitted to be a beneficiary of a flawed electoral process. Recently, the president of Malawi, Joyce Banda cancelled the presidential elections in which she also contested. The reasons she advanced for her actions were simple – electoral irregularities. Whatever the ulterior motive she might harbour, at least she has displayed some level of transparency and sincerity. Because, in ‘African democracy’ incumbent are most likely to benefit from electoral malpractice. However, the country’s judiciary ruled for a recount of the votes; and afterwards the opposition was declared the winner.
On the aspect of citizens participation in the decision making process of the government – it is evident that Nigeria is making significant improvement. For example, the roles played by Nigerians in aborting former president Obasanjo’s third-term agenda, the 2012 protest against hike in the price of premium motor spirit and the influence of social media in shaping national issues (currently trending is the #BringBackOurGirls).
When discussing the economy gains of democracy, we are always fast to mention deregulation and privatisation, especially the communication sector. But, has democracy brought about economy growth in Nigeria, in the real sense? The respond to this question can be found in the relationship between the common Nigerians and unemployment, and access to basic amenities. Recently, we had our Gross Domestic Product rebased; but, with only graph illustrations and figures on papers to justify it. Real economic improvement should go beyond bookish analysis. It should entail deliberate policies and programmes towards tackling poverty, and addressing social injustice.
As we mark another democracy anniversary, we should sober on the factors that have contributed in plunging our country into an abysmal malfunctioning society. Most Nigerians are guilty of chauvinism, cynicism or corruption. Nevertheless since being optimistic is part and parcel of democracy; I urge my fellow countryperson(s) to keep fate, but most importantly continue working towards a better Nigeria.
Idris Evuti, is the senior programme manager of Young People’s Initiative for Credible Leadership and he tweets on @idrisevuti.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com