Unholy Expedition of Democracy to Nigeria; Its Imposition on the Nigerian Ecology By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
In the words of Sartori (1965), “Democracy is a political system in which the influence of the majority is assured by elective and competitive minorities to whom it is entrusted”. Here, the people and the masses are naturally relegated into the background.
For Schumpeter (1952), Democracy connotes “a mechanism for choosing and authorizing government”; while Abraham Lincoln (1863), defined democracy as “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Democracy in the political, academic and ideological parlance is regarded as a system of government meant to cater for the yearnings and aspirations of the people. It is promulgated for the general interest of the people towards the enhancement of popular participation. As a majoritarian rule, it could be direct, representative and constitutional.
Etymologically, the concept of democracy was first practiced among the ancient Greeks, where direct democracy (rules by the people or the whole body of citizens) was practiced therein. Indeed, the word democracy has its root in two Greek words, ‘demo’meaning [the people] and ‘kratia’ meaning [to rule].
Basically, Democracy may be described as a system of government under which the people exercise the governing power either directly or through their representatives via a periodic election.
The historical analysis of Democracy
As chronicled by Akinlade and Ibitoye (2002), in “Introduction to Political Science”; the historical development of the modern democracy on a generic scale is a very complex one.
It became popularized after the fall of the Greek city-state; immediately after the American revolution of 1776 and French revolution of 1789. The American Revolution saw the beginning of series of political returns which led to the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1845. Five years later in 1850, women’s suffrage was introduced in America. Similarly, the French Revolution of 1789 also proclaimed the right of the people to choose those who will rule them. Hence, election and plebiscite/referendum based on universal suffrage at this period became familiar features in France.
Ironically, Britain practiced a system of representative democracy whereby only the selected few were allowed to participate in electing the members of the parliament. In 1918, however, Britain recognized the right of all adult males to vote. Ten years later in 1928, full women’s suffrage was introduced. Other countries in Europe and Asia soon adopted the example of America, France and Britain.
So by the end of the Second World War (WW-II) in 1945, virtually all independent countries of the world had proclaimed their commitment to one form of representative democracy or the other. Even, the colonies in Asia and Africa after gaining independence from their colonial masters also adopted democratic forms of government as imposed on them by their respective colonial countries. Unfortunately, since this imported democratic form of government was un-African by nature, it therefore, naturally suffered all sort of hiccups in its adaptation process with recurring cases of military incursion, succession and susceptibility to one party dictatorship, etc.; as palpable in Tanzania, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, etc.
To me, Democracy is an imposed ideology on the Africans; yet, it is valuable to some people and scholars who uphold and prefer its tenets and standards. These sets of people or scholars, unfortunately, have only been able to note the propensity by which democracy had grown and has fast-tracked the development of America and Europe, but they had unequivocally failed in not properly appraising the effectiveness of Democracy as a form of government in Nigeria and Africa in general.
Simply put, the reason why democracy thrives in America and Europe is because it is rooted in an ideology produced, believed and nurtured by them, so they understand its peculiarities and shall always guide it jealously. However, regardless of the social incivility, heterogeneity, fragmented nature of Nigeria’s democratic ecology vis-à-vis the entrenchment of poverty, corruption and high level of illiteracy that have characterized her system; the Nigerian model of democracy has continued to be crippled by various unfortunate internal and external influences, especially through the activities of the Britton-wood institutions, Multi-lateral Corporations, negative leaders and other sub-state actors; sponsored and supervised by agents of the West with their stringent instrumentalities of Neo- colonialism and Imperialism.
Suffice to Walter Rodney postulation in his book, titled-“How Europe underdeveloped Africa”, where he rightly opined that the total adoption of foreign language, partial espousal of foreign culture, full appliance of foreign systems of government and use of foreign technologies and products in Africa will never allow the continent grow. At the moment, I wish to affirm with all sense of objectivity that events have vindicated Rodney. Virtually all sectors of Nigerian economy are centered to the dictate and control of Europe and America. It is no gain-saying that Neo-colonialism and imperialism in their advanced form and practicality now reign supreme in Africa unlike other Asian countries which were once running at par with countries of Africa, but at this moment, they have gone ahead and are major challengers for the apex of the political and socio-economic structure of the international system.
India for instance was colonized by Britain and became a member of the common-wealth of nations but today, India does not patronize products manufactured or fashioned by Britain. Immediately India got her independent, having implemented domestic economic policies and market system that favoured her economy against foreign patronage. Today, India is rated as one of the best globally in automobiles, production of mobile phones, Health Services, ICT and manufacturing of many other electronic gadget. She has jettisoned English language as her official language and had banned importation of foreign cars. All forms of imposition of ideology were never allowed in India. Many features and essential ingredients of democracy were jettisoned in India. What India is practicing today could be classified as quasi-democracy by injecting her tenets and opinions into the extant inherited democracy from the colonial masters and had thereto developed a new model; which has been able to meet its vision, most suitably adaptable to its ecology.
In addition to the aforementioned, Karl Marx (a renowned German writer, scholar and philosopher) once argued that no Nation can succeed, conquer poverty and excel with other nations’ culture, language, religion and political ideology. He further preached that each nation is supposed to operate system of government that is identical with its religion, culture and language. Heartbreakingly, English language was imposed on Nigeria by the British Colonial Masters in a non-disputable and incontrovertible manner during their colonial rule from 1906-1960 and ensured thereafter that it is the official language which is acceptable by the seemingly timid Nigerians.
The Evil the ideology called democracy has bedeviled on Nigeria!
The enumerated analysis below best captured the antithesis of the normalcy that has characterized our democracy in Nigeria against the status-quo as rightly posited by the above mentioned idealists:
Today, most especially in our primary and secondary schools in Nigeria, pupils and children pays fine for speaking in mothers’ tongue. Recently, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos made the teaching of Chinese language compulsory in his State.
The cultures of various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria have been jettisoned for foreign cultures. Foreign attires have replaced local attires in Nigeria, leading to the withering -away of good values and character. Today, sexually-provocative dressing mostly by ladies has triggered cases of raping and sexual harassment.
Christianity, the most practiced religion in Nigeria was imported to Africa by the Colonial masters via the use of propagandist-doctrine to ensure that various Nigerian traditional religions were ditched for Christianity. It has been argued that Christianity brought civilization to Nigeria but it has also been confirmed that the evil Christianity has brought to Nigeria is more than the good. Nigerian Politicians swears with the bible, the symbol of Christianity during their inauguration but ends up looting the common wealth of their people. Can anybody swear before SANGO (god of thunder) and act in contrary?
People now have sex in churches, men are being allowed to marry men in churches (gayism), bishops impregnates church members at will, politicians steals and pay tithes in churches, pastors use their church members for ritual rites and many more. Christianity and Islam at opposite ends had done more damages than good to the Nigeria socio-political system, the unabated war waged against the country by the Boko-Haram suffices.
Today, people are recurrently being bombed, maimed and killed day-by-day in Nigeria under democracy, since lives and properties of the common people and those even in the top places can no longer be guaranteed due to the protracted fiefdom existing between these two religious groups. Consequent upon this, I am casting my vote of no confidence on the said religions.
Before now, countless frontline Politicians, Journalists, business tycoons and critics, poor masses of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa, have lost their lives to struggles for the entrenchment of democratic rule in Nigeria. The families of Afred Rilwane, Funso William, Dipo Dina, Dele Giwa, Ken Saro Wiwa, Ayodeji Daramola, kehinde Fasuba, Bayo Ohu, Segun Ogundeji, Alli Baba Mugno, and M.K.O Abiola et al have not recovered from the evil done them by Democracy.
Today, armed robbers and kidnappers operate at will; they carry out their illicit operations unhindered. Oil Militants who had destroyed government and peoples properties now benefit from democratic government in Nigerian through political appointments. It should be noted here that Militants in Nigeria are richer than average Nigerian graduates. This is shameful!
The National youth Service Corps (NSYC) which was once upon a time the pride of every under-graduate has lost its value and integrity under democracy as Jobs can no longer be secured after completion of the mandatory national service.
The judiciary, which people sees as the hope of common people has been compromised under democracy. In Nigeria, a politician who is confirmed to have stolen Ten Billion Naira (N10, 000,000.00k) got sentenced to 6 months imprisonment with an option of fine of One Million Naira. High, Appeal and Supreme Court(s) Judges buy mansions in choice cities in the world like biscuit. Let me say without being prejudicial that it will take miracle to get Nigerian Judiciary sanitized. Nigerian Judiciary in collaboration with Nigerian Politicians has turned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a toothless dog that can no longer bite but howl. It is therefore no gain-saying that Corruption and Nigerian Judiciary are thick as thieves (birds of the same feather).
Our highways have become deathtrap under democratic rule in Nigeria. Thousands are killed on our roads on weekly basis. Armed robbers have turned our expressways to meeting points. Masses only hear and read news of road contract award on dailies and radio with nothing being done. Nigerian roads now kill more than malaria.
Our Airports have become laughing stock everywhere in the world due to poor infrastructure. Most of them are without power supply, water, toilets and good road networks as bestowed on Nigerians by Democracy.
Our leaders in Nigeria have spent over Thirty Billions US dollars ($ 13,000.000.00) on power supply in Nigeria, yet, epileptic power supply remained manifest. A country with the population of over One fifty million lives below 4,000Mwts instead of 67,000Mwts. No wonder, Industries are relocating to Ghana by the day due to woeful power supply in Nigeria. Confirmed information has it that Ponyan, a community in Kogi State, Nigeria has not had electricity power supply for the past 1806 days.
The education system in the country has been bastardized by people masquerading as democrats in Nigeria. As at today, the best Nigerian University is not rated amongst the best 5000 in the world. Industrial actions have paralyzed the education sector. Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of education lecturers have gone on strike for over 30 months in the last 14 years of democratic rule in Nigeria. Secondary and primary school teachers have also gone on strike for over 24 months from 1999 till date. It is on record that most average Nigerian Politicians send their children to top American and European Universities, while top civil servants send their wards to private Universities in Nigeria and Ghanaian Universities and Tertiary Colleges.
Agriculture has been extricated from the map of Nigeria. Agriculture has been jettisoned by Nigerian leaders for oil and this has brought more catastrophes to Nigeria than blessing. The emergence of oil in Nigeria marks the beginning of corruption, mal-administration, sectionalism, etc.
Election is regarded as the constitutional weapon of change in a democratic system. However, it is affirmative that the worst election ever conducted in Nigeria was supervised by a democratically elected government of Olusegun Obasanjo under the administrative supervision of Professor Maurice Iwu. I am referring to the charade called the 2007 elections. While the Military in their days conducted credible elections (one of which was annulled), civilians have failed to do so. It took Ekiti State, Nigeria seven years to settle its election case at the law courts. Elections in Nigeria are either rigged through the ballot or the bullet. What a shame!
The Heath Care Service is another mirage in Nigeria. General Hospitals across Nigeria have become places where patients collect mere Paracetamol and folic acid for serious ailment. Having siphoned the funds meant to fix the Nigeria health or medical institutions, most of the high profiled Politicians that ought to fix Nigerian Hospitals now travel abroad to treat headache.
Infrastructures like houses, estates, companies built even by the colonial masters and the military government have either been shared or cheaply sold by the Nigeria government in the name of privatization and commercialization as applied to the corporate ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Company, Nigerian Tele communication (NITEL), National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) now Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), National Insurance Company of Nigeria (NICON), NICON Luxury, etc. would all suffice. Even, The Lagos Third Mainland Bridge built by the Military remains a landmark that no Civilian government has been able to match till date. Today in south west Nigeria, there is no kilometer of road on dry land that will not last for four years before its completion at least at the costs of one Billion Naira.
To make the matter worse and more worrisome, the Nigerian Police who are expected to be the friends and protector of the common people are now agents of armed robbers. They shot at will; they rape innocent ladies at will; they kill future leaders; students during peaceful protest like common rat! This is disastrous for the country’s future.
Democracy in practice recognizes viable opposition as one of its basic tenets to thrive towards the realization of its set goals. But in Nigeria, Governors and President orders the arrest of perceived enemies or oppositions as they wish. Posting and writing on the social media like the Facebook is now being done with ultimate caution, as no one is willing to die.
Unemployment is increasing daily in Nigeria without hindrance. 2012 World Bank report on Africa made it known to the public that over 74Million proportion of about 160 Million Nigerian population is unemployed.
Political Parties in Nigeria defends corrupt members against arrest or questioning by anti-graft agencies. Instead, they sponsors, promotes and bankrolls kidnappers, bombers, armed robbers, thugs and social miscreants, etc.
With the clinically discussed issues and indicators in the fore-going, I make bold to state that democracy is nothing but a scam in Nigeria! Rather than assisting the system, it has pushed the Nigerian system further into backwardness and uttered disintegration.
THE WAY OUT
As I have unambiguously stated while conceptualizing democracy above; being an ideology of the West (Europeans, Americans, etc.) with features and ingredients best suitable for the ecology of Europe and America. We should not also forget that the nature of their religion, environment, culture, language and socio-political realities were all put into consideration when propounding the concept of democracy. India was intelligent enough to realize these facts early enough, in the 70’s and today, they are better-off.
Ironically, this was not the case of the most populous black continent as Africa was given any consideration and was not in the original scheme when designing the foundation of Democracy. This unholy and wicked imposition on Africa was not only an after-thought but a systematic ploy directed to maim, kill, confuse, exploit, steal, destroy and subject Africa and its component Nations into a state of perpetual enslavement and cacophony.
Plato, a well celebrated and most scholastic Greek Philosopher of blessed memory, in his book titled-The Republic, argued that democracy is a government of the Mob (Mobocracy). He wrote, “Democracy is like when everybody directs a ship and meanwhile, a ship should be directed by experts who could have received enough managerial, technical and administrative training.”
Indeed, evaluating the Nigerianized Democracy (the Nigerian form of Democracy) via a critical assessment of day-to-day activities of the present-day leadership of our democratic government in Nigeria; against the fundamental expectations that are palpable in the advanced models of democracy by any unbiased political analyst will only affirm the fact that this form of government has done more injuries and damages than good to our political system. Leaders are sentimentally and emotionally voted into power by the illiterates, mob, rabble-rousers and the crowd. Merit, quality, know-how and core values of integrity are usually sacrificed for mediocrity in the Nigeria. As a matter of fact, an animate stone with huge capital will, without stress, win election in Nigeria. Why? It is simply because Africans/Nigerians share different orientation, languages, norms, values, perspectives and tradition with those who invented this aberration called Democracy.
Hence, they find it difficult to habituate or adapt successfully to its ecology.
Following the above well catalogued affirmation, I hereby wish to call for the abrogation and nullification of democratic rule in Nigeria. I urge all Nigerian Academics, most especially the political scientists and lovers of comparative politics to study how the Indians and Chinese et al were able to fix their countries’ initial hitches and complications without the dictation or intervention of the West.
Finally, while agitating for the abrogation of Democracy, I say no to military rule and incursion but wish to call for a Sovereign National Constitutional Conference, where all the meaningful stake-holders, egg-heads, ideologue and respected political leaders in the country are expected to cross-pollinate ideas and fashion-out a mutually agreeable most-appropriate system of government that will contain our diverse culture, tradition, norms, languages and address other peculiarities attributed to Nigeria.
Adeleye, a Writer, Social Critic and Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Magodo Phase 1, Lagos, Nigeria. +2347039168005
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