Democracy is a game of number. It requires aggregation of larger voices over selected few. It is also a government of a state by popular majority. A common denominator is that it is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. It is clear from the above, while it is a government by large population, it has to be channeled through elected representative who hold their positions on trust through the virtues of backing they enjoy from the majority. Despite the challenges this system of government is still far better than any other system either Military, Theocracy, oligarchy or Plutocracy among others.
Since democracy is meant to be open expression of people’s will, it is believed to be at its best when the elected few focuses its energy on stuff which enhance standards of living of the majority as against parochial interested of the selected few. It is meant to be a system which put the rules of laws above individual or just a group of individual.
It is based on the above premise that United Nations General Assembly considered it worthwhile and resolved to observe September 15 of every years as International Day of Democracy. This was instituted in 2007.The essence of this day is to promote and uphold the principles as well as to invite member States, organizations to commemorate the day in a way that will eventually contributes to raising public awareness around its issues.
It is common knowledge there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world. To make democracy work, there is need to apply the principles to what work better in each environment. To appreciate this, part of the United Nations General Assembly in declaring International Day of Democracy in 2007 stated: the resolution affirms that: while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region…(it further states) democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of the people to determine their own Political, economic and social-cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspect of life’.
With this said, we strongly believe Nigeria and Africa’s democracy is still in the eye of the storm. While we are not where we used to be, it is on record many of Africa’ nations have since discovered several other human, natural potentials that can really put them on global scene. Yet many of these resources are squandered. Disciplines in all its forms, caution has been thrown into the winds. Everyone seems to be looking for how to get the share of the ‘National Cake’ instead of finding a way to put back icing on it. Instead of contributing to the beauty of the Africa’s democracy cake, we have through different behaviors destroyed what we can all be proud of. No matter what we say, many of Nigeria and Africa’s citizens are suffering from this shame as soon as they step out of the shore of the continent. Even within the continent, there are rivalry, internal and intra country ‘insult hauling’ among the nations.
Nigeria and Africa’s democracy has been hampered by ‘leadership recycling’. The same old faces ruling most of the nations are still in position of authority.. Development across Africa has remained largely the same except in few cases. The depth of ethnicity, lack of trust among citizens has gone from bad from to worst. We are only united when we are outside the shore of Africa. As soon as we are back at home, we go back to status qou.
Majority of the Nations’ constitution have remained largely the same. Wherever there are changes at all it is to suit some people instead of it seeking the common good. The rule of laws is not strictly applied. Many of our citizens and leaders break the laws at will. Yet when we travel out of the continent, we suddenly obey traffic and other laws.
Our democratic institutions have been deliberately weakened so it may not be able to accomplish much. Or how do we explain the rationale behind this approach? Corruption also still looms large. People in position of power encourage massive looting while they encourage followers to be disciplined. Nigeria and in most of Africa’s democracy style is still very costly to operate. One Political office holder has a number of aides that can make one sick.
Internal and external security systems are becoming non existence. Most parts of the Continent are now faced with issue of religious and ethnic violence and there seem to be no end in sight. As we mark 2014 International Democracy Day, we will like to suggest:
A need for ‘applicable’ Constitution: Most of the contents of Nigeria and Africa’s constitutional processes need a lot of overhauling and editing. Constitutional framework which can enhance democratic values must be in place.
Strong institutions: We have too many powerful individuals with no strong institutions: Time is now to focus attention in building strong institutions if we must excel here.
Reduction on cost of democracy: Position and power look attractive because we all feel it is shortest way to ‘breakthrough’ or a means to have a share of ‘national cake’. Let us make some of the political offices less attractive financially and see how many people will kill, maim to get there.
Responsible and empowered Youth: as long as youth population remains an underdog and helpless, the future of Nigeria and Africa democracy will remain in the dark side. A deliberate effort must be put in place to encourage youth to contribute their quotas to the economy.