IS THIS DEMOCRACY OR DICTATORSHIP?
Since the military dictators decided to relinquish power that herald the return of democracy in 1999. We were euphoric that we may now have the opportunity build our nascent democracy, but recent developments in the political space does not support these desires.
The high hope of building an enduring democratic ethos is being shattered by the brazen attitude of intolerance, hate campaign, gangsterims manipulation and selective punitive actions by those in control of political power.
Their love to cling to power by whatever it takes, has put to question whether we have really learnt any lesson from the nineteen (19) years that liberal democracy returned to the country.
All efforts to build and nurture an enduring democratic culture is constantly being threatened by the un democratic behaviours of the actors in the political game.
Their attitude, mannerism, behaviour and actions to say the least are nothing but democratic.
Democracy is a system of government that thrives on the multiplicity of opinions, associations where the will of the citizens are supreme.
Political leaders are chosen by the people in regular, free, and fair elections. The electorates have a choice between different candidates and parties who want the power to govern.
The constitution also guarantees the peoples right to associate, form opinions freely criticize and replace their elected leaders and representatives if they do not perform well.
The people are sovereign they are the highest authority and government is based on the will of the people.
Elected representatives at the national and local levels must listen to the people and be responsive to their need.
However, when citizens are denied these rights that government may be tilting towards dictatorship.
Dictatorship flourish even under liberal democracy. When the ruler take absolute control over a government by playing on the people’s fears, there by cajoling them to submission through the cohesive apparatus of the state.
Usually a dictator gains power by offering simple solutions to complex problem.
They try work on the sensitivity of the people at times when everything seem hopeless. They capitalise on these weaknesses and rise to power and use power for the sake of it.
what happened during 2015 general elections is classical example of how dictators cash on the peoples despondency to grab power and use it to further cement their rule, develop their agenda for the domination of the political space through planned propaganda that appeals to sensivity of the citizens.
The gullible citizens came out in their troops to choose and welcome the opposition party regardless of whether they have the programme to move the country forward or not.
Three years down the lane political pundits are x-raying the performance of the government.
If in 2015 the people had no milestones to measure the performance of the government. The situation in 2019 would not be the same.
People have seen the government at work and can now predict and measure its ability to deliver on its promises .
Governments actions are no longer in the abstract, they are real and measurable.
No blame game can ever stop the people from commenting on the government performance.
The real issue people are now asking for is the “change” they have been promised.
Once the people can not feel, touch and identify with the change and how it touches their lives they will criticise the government no matter how effective the crusade against corruption and the other vices in the society for which the regime is anchoring its success.
The President himself came on national television defending the performance of his government like all others have done, by resorting to the blame game.
Apportioning the blame for the failure of his government to his predecessors and the national assembly.
He even said some of the parliamentarians have been in the green and red chambers for more than ten years without doing anything.
The President may be right, the assembly in the name of protecting there party leader have abdicated on some the roles granted to them constitution.
I know for the past nineteen years the assembly have kept the nation and our nascent democracy together.
Is the accusation by the President reminding the assembly of their failure invoke impeachment process for the travesty to the constitution being committed by the executives at all levels of government? A word is enough for the wise.
The parliaments must awaken up to their responsibilities and do the needful for the Nigerian people.
We are tired of disregard to the rule of law by the government. It is increasingly becoming so alarming and distressing that court rulings are no longer respected.
Selective punitive punishment and arraignments of opposition members before the courts of law for corrupt practices, in order to whittle the strength of the opposition is becoming the norm.
The only immunity against persecution and arrest is to decamp to the ruling party or be part of the cabal.
The running battle between the Executive and Parliamentarians for control of the assembly shows how suspect the relationship between the two arms of government has been.
The relationship between the judiciary and the executive is also anything but cordial.
The democratic culture in the states to say least are non existent.
The state assemblies no longer function as a check on the activities of state governors.
They can simply be regarded as glorified civil servants, whose main duty is to rubber stamp the deals of the state executive.
The members have been reduced to call boys to legitimise yearly appropriations put forward by the executives without scrutiny.
It is also worrying the way some of the governors have completely taken control of the states affairs as if it is their personal companies.
More worrying is how some of them out rightly use abusive languages on elected representatives and barring them from going to their constituencies.
This is not only regrettable but is demeaning to our democratic ethos.
To add more salt to injury, senior citizens can no longer comment freely on public affairs for fear of being branded sectionalists, religious bigots or apologist to the previous government.
The disregard by government officials to appear and answer legitimate queries when required to do so by the national assembly, under the over sight functions given to them by the constitution is continuously being abused by state officials.
It is now clear that their action has the tacit support of the executive.
If this is allowed to continue then something must be wrong with the way we practice democracy.
The citizens loyalties had also been fractured and divided along individuals camps, the parties no longer command respect. Followers no longer see issues from the point of view of the country.
We have lost our nationalistic fevors, sense of reasoning and what we stand for as a people. We fight with fire and furry in defence of our political idols even if their actions are dragging the country to the mud.
Is this types of democracy we all yearn for? Is this type of democracy we would bequeath to our children?
Are we gradually tilting towards dictatorship?
Any one who is a student of politics can see where the country is heading to. This is how autocratic and dictatorial governments emerge.
We must not allow this to happen. We must not be cajoled to accept the culture of silence, because we afraid the cohesive institutions of the state will swoop and walk us to gulag.
No nation however mighty it is has grown without the sacrifice of the few for better tomorrow.
The key role of citizens in a democracy is participation. This takes many forms. Citizens have an obligation to become informed about public issues, to monitor the conduct of their leaders and representatives, and to express their own opinions.
Participate freely voting in elections, debating issues, attending community meetings, becoming involved in private, voluntary organizations, and even protesting.
In a democracy, the rule of law protects the rights of citizens, maintains order, and limits the power of government.
All citizens are equal under the law. No one may be discriminated against on the basis of their race, religion, ethnic group, or gender or political persuasion,
No one may be arrested, imprisoned, or exiled arbitrarily.
No one may be denied their freedom without a fair and public hearing by an impartial court.
No one may be taxed or prosecuted except by a law established in advance. No one is above the law, not even a king or an elected president.
The law is fairly, impartially, and consistently enforced, by courts that are independent of the other branches of government.
In a democracy, anyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair, speedy, and public trial.
Just because someone is accused of a crime does not mean that he loses his rights. Anyone arrested is presumed innocent until proven guilty. A person’s guilt must be proved in a court of law, through a fair, speedy, and public trial.
In a democracy, a person accused of a crime has the right to know the charges against him, to remain silent, to have legal representation, to participate in his defence, and to question witnesses for the prosecution. No person who is acquitted of a crime may be tried again on that charge.
No one under any circumstance may ever be subjected to torture, or to cruel and inhuman treatment. No one may be imprisoned or have their property seized without legal justification.
We must therefore stand up and defend our democracy. We must not allow some few to hijack our democracy to rule us with iron fist, fear, intimidation and acquiescence .
However, in doing so, political participation in a democracy must be peaceful, respectful of the law, and tolerant of the different views of other groups.
Nigeria is greater then any one person.