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Still on democracy, good governance and development – Part 2

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa
19 July 2022   |   3:41 am
Achebe’s lamentation probably explains why the June 12, 1993 elections was important as there was hope and wide jubilation that the elections would produce popular and credible leaders.

Achebe’s lamentation probably explains why the June 12, 1993 elections was important as there was hope and wide jubilation that the elections would produce popular and credible leaders. Even though Nigeria is now in the doldrums of poverty and underdevelopment, we make bold to state that she can still enjoy the positive link between democracy and good governance as Nigeria has all it takes in terms of natural and human resources to do so. We pray that God will help us, so that like other nations, we will reap the dividends of democracy and enjoy development.

This discussion is not a book of lamentation and as such I shall attempt to make some recommendations towards the advancement of democracy, good governance and development in Nigeria. These include:

Strengthening the Electoral Process: There is an urgent need to tinker with the electoral laws and the Constitution to serve the interest of the public, not the deeply entrenched partisan interests of politicians. The present Electoral Act, 2022, has proved inefficient to tackle the common problems plaguing our leadership recruitment process.

Safeguards against Electoral Technology: There is an urgent need to ensure maximum safeguards when deploying electoral technology. At present, the majority of the educated Nigerian youth register online to be able to vote at the incoming elections but are unable to complete the process due to malfunctioning of the INEC website. There is an urgent need to ensure safeguards to ensure that Nigeria does not surrender its democracy to machines.
De-concentration of power in the executive branch of government: Over-concentration of power in the executive is an obstacle to good governance in Nigeria. The president and Governors conduct themselves more as emperors than as accountable elected representatives. Even if there is a direct election of the executive branch, it should not serve as a justification for sidelining a directly elected legislature. The masses should learn to exercise their power to recall non performing legislators so as to put them on their toes.
A bold and fearless judiciary: The Nigerian Judiciary must remain fearless and bold in holding the government accountable when it flouts the laws of the land. The Courts must assist the Nigerian people through innovative and inspiring judgments in the defence and advancement of the rule of law.
A vibrant bar, civil society and populace willing to hold the government accountable for acts which undermine and jeopardize democracy.
vi. Urgent agenda for restructuring, either through a radical amendment of the present Constitution or enacting a new Constitution that will represent the interests, the yearnings and aspirations of our people.

In concluding this discourse, it is important to reiterate that democracy is attractive because it offers a better life for the people. On 6th June, 2018, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria declared June 12 as democracy day and memorialized Nigeria’s heroes who died in their struggle to enthrone democracy in Nigeria.

During the investiture ceremony and conferment of the posthumous award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Chief MKO Abiola, the president on the 12th day of June, 2018, stated as follows:
‘What we are doing is celebrating and appreciating the positive side of June 12. June 12 which restates democracy and freedom. The June 12 that overcomes our various divides and the June 12 that produces unity and national cohesion. This is the June 12 that we are celebrating today and we will nurture it to our next generation.’
From the words of the President, it is safe to say that there is no democracy without freedom, unity, national cohesion or the rule of law. In fact, law is the midwife of democracy. Permit me to conclude with the admonitions of CHARLES E CLARK in his article titled ‘The function of Law in a Democratic Society’ published in the University of Chicago Law Review thus:

‘if the people are not in command of their own government, but are actually subordinate to some yet more remote sovereign who upholds and justifies unsanitary conditions, poor housing, long hours of labour, and general defiance of social welfare legislation as a freedom required by some vague constitutional command or higher law of nature, then, we are nearer either to anarchy or the rule of the autocratic few than we are to democracy.’
Rather than seeking to magnify our fault lines and divisive tendencies, democracy should be adopted as a tool for national integration and development. I thank you for your kind attention and may God bless you all.


Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).