A glimpse at Nigeria’s democracy gives the array of boom and doom. Looking through the phases of our national history, we must agree that there has been tussles, alignments and dis-alignments over who takes control and allocates national scarce resources. The question of who gets what; when and how remains turbulent national questions, yet unanswered. Nigeria gained her political independence from British rule since October 1, 1960, but the Nigerian people are currently being enslaved by their fellow countrymen. While assessing the most popular explanation of democracy – “government of the people, by the people, for the people” in the Nigerian context, democracy has been redefined. We live in the society where the minority continue to exercise their political and economic control over the majority. The wealth of the nation is in the hands of the few, our national wealth is in their hands and the proceeds in their potbelly.
Listing the incidences of Nigeria’s democratic woes is a waste of time. In fact, from first republic to the current fourth republic, the list is endless. Elections that has been held since 1999 to date were all marred by conflicts and irregularities. There has not been any record of a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria. The only election adjudged free and fair was nullified by the Niger-lord, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1993. This unthoughtful act led to democratic breakdown and social disequilibrium in the country, which we are yet to recover from. The quest for power at all cost have made so many Nigerian politicians subscribe to notorious means. There are no true political leaders in Nigeria, they are political entrepreneurs who are bent on robbing the social consciousness of the apolitical clay.
People mistake nationalists for people who fought for political freedom from colonial rule, but they are not. Nationalists are those who always put the nation’s interest first above any other (self, religion, and ethnic). There are no nationalists in Nigeria. Yes, none! That’s a pitiable. Nigerian political leaders are here to rob, steal and destroy. President Donald Trump’s “America First” is a display of commitment to Nationalism. Has any of our leaders mentioned Nigeria First? No, it is their interest first.
Democracy means freedom. Freedom is not in the Nigerian society; it has since been forgotten in the ocean of history. The word “freedom” is just an English word with dictionary meaning – to Nigerians. It is not operational. Not that it is not practicable but the political lords have made it too expensive to be practiced. In any case, when there is freedom, it is a freedom for political entrepreneurs to amass and siphon National wealth to their personal coffers. In other words, freedom of corruption, using political powers and might. That is what democracy means in Nigeria. Self-government is not for the general will. Though democratically elected, most Nigerian political leaders forced their ways by manipulating electoral processes.
Congratulations to Real Madrid on their European Champions League victory for the 13th time and 3rd consecutive time in a row. Since the game ended, there are two players that has been at the centre stage of discussion and analysis across the football world – Sergio Ramos and Loris Karius. Ramos, a Real Madrid Player, have continued to receive vituperations from many who thought his action that led to the removal of the Egyptian Football Magician – Mohammed Salah from the field of play before half time was inhumane. Ramos attitude could be likened to a Nigerian politician who would always hold the hands of citizens, stopping them from benefiting from the tenets of democracy. They would eventually take the plate away from them and keep them away from reclaiming their rights. In their imagination, Nigeria belongs to him, no other person must be allowed to rule.
What all Nigerians must know is that some people have turned Nigeria to their dynasty. They have established the hegemony and using every election to service their will. Both the people and resources of Nigeria are under their control. They have political power, as well as economic power. They do not allow equality and equity. Our Nigeria belongs to few of them. Should we allow them go with it? No, never! The level of consciousness must be revived.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is always there as the electoral gatekeeper. Just like Liverpool’s Karuis, INEC allows politicians to rig elections. They watch them while they score against the will of the people. It is tantamount to own goal and the masses are on the losing side, they rejoice after the end of every election but start crying after one year of election. This is so because, citizens do not carefully select political leaders.
There is a popular political philosophy going on in the country – “the stomach infrastructure.” This philosophy has been made to stay because of the poverty level and low level of political education of electorates. If the citizens are wise, they won’t keep taking the deceits of people who promised them tomorrow but have never fulfilled what they promised them yesterday. Every Nigerians must know that stomach infrastructure will not lead to national development, it will only, lead each beneficiary on a free trip to the toilet.
Nigerians must be wise to displace every Ramos serving as hindrance to our collective development. They must be sacked. The level of awareness must be raised. If Nigerians would have access to their rights, we will never achieve it through political apathy. Everyone must be involved to select a leader that would represent our common interest.
Non-Government Organizations, Community Based Organizations, Faith Based Organizations and other community stakeholders must be committed to voter’s education, especially by designing orientation programmes with special focus on women. Women participates more in voting process but they do not know who to vote and why they are voting. Mostly, women and other people goes to the polling unit to cast the dice aimlessly. We have come to a point where we must recognize that we have all committed a national mistake by allowing unworthy individuals to occupy honourable positions, over the years. As citizens, we must retain the right to determine – what, where, whom and how? Decision to vote for a candidate must be based on assessment of candidate. With strong determination, political and economic powers can return to the masses – the ideal owners. Equal distribution of societal wealth is possible, citizens only need to stay awake and join the process. Happy Democracy Day, Nigeria.
OjoOluwa Ibiloye, a Political Analyst writes from Abuja