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Democracy of deceit, fraud and mockery

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Keen observers of the trends in political history of nations across the world will be amazed at what Nigeria has made of a world’s most acclaimed concept called democracy. Throughout history, almost all political theorists are agreed on the fact that democracy is the best form of government. For various reasons, no other form of government is adjudged to guarantee such array of fundamental human rights and freedom as does democracy. The right of the masses to choose whatever leaders they want is considered as one of the noblest ideals of a modern society when compared with the earliest form of governance most of which revolved around mostly some form of dictatorship or another. But it is doubtful if anyone could ever have imagined the various ugly scenarios playing out in Nigeria ever since the return of the current so-called nascent democratic experiment.

To start with, democracy in its pure form is synonymous with party politics where each party comes up with its own manifesto detailing its programs, principles, aims and objectives. In saner climes, there are always major differences between and among parties and members of each party hold tenaciously to ideologies which are never found in any other parties. And because of differences bordering on ideologies, it is rare to find any type of cross-carpeting from one party to another. Indeed, it is almost impossible. What then happens is that members of various parties work as hard as they can to win elections. When they do, they form the government and bring their electioneering campaign agenda into focus while the others occupy positions of opposition whereby they continually monitor very closely the activities of the party in power.

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The opposition plays a key role in ensuring that the party in power remains focused on the issue of governance owing to the fact that the government is fully aware that the opposition parties are at the background waiting eagerly for its pitfalls. Such close monitoring of the opposition can actually be said to be responsible for most of the giant strides often recorded by the model democracies. Aside from the opposition, the courts are also firmly on the ground to ensure that each player acts according to laid down rules. With its eagle eyes, it is difficult for any party in power to act ultra vires of the nation’s constitution and whenever any act of arbitrariness is noticed, the courts are always prompt in ensuring that such anomaly is urgently challenged and addressed.

Thirdly, the parliament is another arm of government which apart from making laws also guards against any form of high-handedness on the part of the party in power. With all these in place therefore, democracy is always at its best in the advanced world. Conversely, the Nigeria’s appalling mode of democracy is nothing short of a combination of deceit, fraud and mockery. To start with, none of the parties contesting for elective posts in Nigeria has any clear-cut ideology and what is often presented to the public are just whatever each party leaders think the masses are willing to hear at every point in time. Their major aim is only to deploy a combination of false promises linked with what may appear as some form of ideologies just to win elections and once such aim is achieved, the rest is history. Soon, the winning party takes the centre stage as the champion. For a moment, all the other parties are in court to contest the outcome of the results each making various claims of irregularities. If and when all the litigations are set aside for lack of merit, the next item on the agenda is members of the other parties beginning to cross-carpet to the ruling party.

Under such a spurious practice as witnessed in Nigeria, where a suitable opposition is nowhere to be found, the party in power usually assumes a larger than life postures, throwing caution to the dogs and acting with outright impunity. To make matters worse, both the parliament and the judiciary which ought to fill the space created by lack of opposition also face a major handicap. While the parliament, be it federal or states’ are nothing more than rubber stamps, failing to understand its duties of making laws for good governance and acting as a check on the excesses of the executive, but rather turning its attention mainly to what it calls oversight functions which then become their major preoccupation. Sadly too, the judiciary which ought to be independent in the discharge of its functions without fear or favour is reduced to an orphan looking up to the executives for survival. It is therefore a piece of good news in Nigeria to learn of the executives buying vehicles for the judges and the parliament becoming the court probing various ministries and parastatals for failing to remit funds into the federation account. By and large, the parliament members are only after their own pockets and never in any service to the nation. This, quite sadly, has been Nigeria’s version of democracy. The question to ask then is if any country can ever make any headway under such an utterly confounding situation?
Oyewusi, a public affairs analyst , lives in Lagos.

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