Is Democracy Working in Nigeria? – Muhammed Bello Mohammed @trueNija
‘Africa is the only continent that has moved backwards in the last 30
years’ – Tony Blair, March 2005.
I have sat down several times to ask myself this question but always
end up with the same answer. Before I go to that, let me talk of the
type of Democracy or Government we have been operating since 1999 in
Nigeria, the longest period we have had under a democratic setting as
it is called.
It’s sad to note here that despite the fact that Nigeria generated more
than enough revenue to not only drastically reduce poverty and
unemployment, but could have been the Dubai of Africa, raking in
revenue from tourism as well as a destination for investors. These have
been made untenable because of the bad leadership we have had from the
Federal to Local Government Areas who loot rather than serve the people
they asked to serve.
On electricity alone, the Nigerian government claimed to have spent
over $30billion which to me can provide the whole of West Africa with
light energy. Yet what is evident in all parts of the nation,
including Government houses are generators and their associated noise
and air pollution. No one can say for sure how many Nigerians die each
day from carbon monoxide poisoning or fume-related asthma.
What does democracy mean in the first place and why is the United
States in particular, advocating democracy around the world? Democracy
is simply known to be the Government of the people, for the people and
by the people. Let’s explain this further and relate it to western
Democratic practices have always been issues of serious concerns for
the average Nigerian citizen, while the nation’s glaringly weak
judicial system portends bad signals that the country is heading
towards crises, if drastic measure were not taken.
In Nigeria today, what we have is a selected few who destroy our dear
country in the name of Democracy. “Democracy is not supposed to be
imported and imposed hook, line and sinker on different nations with
different backgrounds, orientations and cultures. Tenets of democracy
are good, but must be tailored to fit into and accommodate diverse
backgrounds, cultures and orientations of diverse countries according
to the needs of such a people.
We must develop our ‘home grown’ democracy including the election and
its processes.” – @hbgumi. In my own opinion, democracy should be
tailored to suit the needs of the people but the basic principles,
people-centeredness must remain intact. According to President Barack
Obama, “The people are more important than the president” From this
quote, we can see clearly that Democracy is all about the people and
those elected MUST initiate and execute policies that affect the people
in a positive way.
Citizen participation must also be encouraged. Is this happening in
Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine. Nigerians are totally ignore
while those that asked to serve arrogantly refuse to consult their
their local constituencies. Why then do we allow this to continue
since we have the right to decide who best to lead us?
This brings me back to where we have problem in Nigeria under a
Democratic setting. In the first place, since Democracy is all about
the Nigerian people, why then do Political parties impose candidates on
us to choose from? Why won’t the people decide who carries the flag of
a particular party, be it the office of the Governor, senate, Reps or
President? Why do we have too many association registered as political
parties in Nigeria? The National Assembly in Nigeria is nothing but a
waste. They have no use for Nigerians and our constitution is only in
To answer the above, I have a suggestion. Firstly and to be sincere, we
do not need more than five (5) political parties in Nigeria. Secondly,
the people should be involved in selecting who a party presents as
candidate for all positions. Another issue that contributes to the party
selecting who they present is the issue of money politics. The
Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has to start with free
nomination forms as well as peg how much a candidate can spend during
The exorbitant amount charged by party’s prospective contestants means
that if the best candidate was poor, he would be priced out of the
contest. Is this Democracy? Is this how the US and the West conduct
their nomination? Since we are copying the United States system of
Government, why do our elected/selected representatives, at the
detriment of our people, allocate to themselves unbelievable amount as
their allowances making a Nigerian senator to earn in a year more than
what the US president earns in 4 years? What then does the president
earn, that’s apart from what they loot?
Recently, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore (Rtd)
decried the ubiquitous present state of infrastructural decay in all
parts of the country, adding that with the decay, the country was yet
to experience true democracy.
The people’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been RULING, not LEADING
Nigeria since 1999. They have done nothing but divide and rule us. Each
election gets worst yet we do nothing. WHY? In the 2011 elections, I
cannot remember now, how many seats were cancelled as a result of
electoral malpractices and re-election done? Yet no single INEC
official has been charged for their role in rigging. On this, I’m not
surprised because INEC itself is a branch of PDP as clearly, Professor
Attahiru Jega is not an Independent electoral Chairman but a
representative of the ruling party who takes orders from President
Jonathan. We must call for parties to nominate candidates to serve in
INEC. Occupy Nigeria has shown us that once we are UNITED, the govt
will do what’s right.
What Nigerians should know is that those in Government are united in
looting. Being in different Political parties is only a deception.
Remember the bullet-proof jeep Shekarau gave President Jonathan when
they were campaigning for same office but under different parties. For
how long then, will we continue to be deceived?
I know part of the oath President Jonathan took was to protect lives
and properties but unfortunately, we have witnessed more deaths and
destruction of properties in less than two years of his Government. He
boldly spoke about fighting corruption which is our number one problem
but end up being the leader of looters with Diezani Alison- Madueke
and Ngozi by his side.
A serious president fighting corruption would not have only sacked
Diezani Madueke and all involved in the fake N2.6trillion fuel subsidy
fraud but also make them face the law. As it is now, there is no single
sector that fraud has not permeated and crippled. We have ICPC and
EFCC who are both also a branch of PDP. How then do we say democracy is
Having said this, it’s obvious that Democracy is definitely not working
in Nigeria and the earlier we unite to #SaveNigeria in 2015, the
better. We are already far behind. Defeating a DO OR DIE party like PDP
is not an easy one. They use religion, region and tribe to divide us.
Since we know this, why not use our vote which happens to be our
strongest weapon in making Democracy work in Nigeria?
In conclusion, let me share this story that relates to our present
condition. Nigeria of today is much more like the story of the late
Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who, at 88, found himself
on a train and unable to find his ticket. When the conductor came
around, Holmes was searching through all his pockets without success.
Of course the conductor recognised the distinguish justice, so he said,
“don’t worry, Mr. Holmes. You don’t need a ticket. You’ll probably find
it when you get off the train, and I’m sure the Pennsylvania Railroad
will trust you to mail it back later! ” Holmes looked at the conductor
with some irritation and said: “MY DEAR MAN, THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM AT
ALL. THE PROBLEM IS NOT WHERE MY TICKET IS. THE PROBLEM IS WHERE AM I
GOING?” Sadly, that’s the situation i find us in. We don’t know where
this bloody Democracy is taking us to.
May the Almighty Allah Save Nigeria.
REMEMBER, “DECISIONS OF TODAY ARE REALITIES OF TOMORROW” It’s up to us.
- Muhammed Bello Mohammed
Follow me on Twitter: @trueNija
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