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EDITORIAL: Regimented Democracy

Alan Moore says, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people”, Thurgood Marshall also says, “Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country, this is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on”. These are true words of democracy. However, is this the kind of democracy we find in our Nigeria? No wonder, Benito Mussolini says, “Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy”

What really is Democracy, the dictionary defines it as “The rule by the people either directly or through elected representatives” it is also “A fair and equal treatment of everyone in an organization, etc., and their right to take part in making decisions”

With the above quotes and definitions of democracy, do you think we are practicing and enjoying democracy? Don’t you think we should have more? Abraham Lincoln once said democracy is “A government of the people, for the people and by the people”

The Nigerian government has tried giving us democracy but not true democracy, we expect more so that the common man can see and call the government a democratic one. There are several ways of practicing true democracy; where the rule of law abound, where there is equality and equity among citizens, where there is right to fair hearing, freedom of speech, security and infrastructural development.

The rule of law is expected to exist in a democratic society like Nigeria. According to Caroline Kennedy, “the bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing, a society where the government and the citizens abide by the rule of law and the law being a respecter of nobody”. However, in our society, we see the law under the foot of the government. The judicial system has sunk so deep into the garments of the executive that nothing is functioning accurately, because their lords (the government) are also the culprits.

Right to fair hearing and freedom of speech is a necessity in a democratic system, but what happens to a society that claims to be democratic but lacks freedom of speech. Why does the government owned media not read worthy news but only jingles to praise the government? Is that an element of true democracy? Tzipi Livni said, “In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press.” Nevertheless, this is not what we find in our society Nigeria.

What about the corruption in our society today? Has it not sunk deep into the system of government? No wonder we find errors in several angles like Joe Biden rightly said, “Corruption is a cancer; a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity; already – tight national budgets, crowding out important national investments. It wastes the talent of entire generations. It scares away investments and jobs.” The government no longer thinks straight. The society is now like giving one a gun and prosecuting another for the possession of another, but similar gun.

Corruption breeds insecurity in a society. Nigeria is now faced with several insecurity challenges; Boko Haram, Herdsmen among others. A democratic nation should understand that every citizen has a right to life, but what happens to the murdered souls in Makurdi? The clerics and all others killed. What about those who murdered them? Have they been apprehended? What is the government and the relevant security bodies doing? Why are the citizens still close mouthed? If all these questions are not answered rightly, then for sure our democracy is regimented, for true democracy is a necessity for peace and reduction of the forces of terrorism.

Democracy brings equal development, but our society still lacks this. Uneven infrastructural developments are what we see everywhere. Several states in the nation have not experienced any federal government infrastructural development while others have experienced it so much. This should not be the situation of things in a democratic country.

A democratic nation must have free and fair elections. However, in our society, we hear of several anomalies pertaining to elections. INEC, an independent body ought not be scared of the government but should do the right thing. There should not be ballot snatching or other election malpractices. From another angle, most often, Nigeria’s citizens do not like to vote, reasons being that they believe that their vote will not be counted. Robert Kennedy postulated, “Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy”. Therefore, let the masses too come out of their closet and practice true democracy. The words of Louis L’Amour ring a bell when he said, “to make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote, has no right to complain”

Narrowing it down to Delta State, we can say that to some extent we have seen some elements of democracy in the government of Delta State. The 25 local government areas in the state are benefitting from the government’s road constructions, the Governor’s SMART agenda to provide empowerment to the youths. The appointment of chief officers, which cut across the 25 local governments. However, the government is expected to do more in several other ways too; such as, providing employment to the unemployed and underemployed graduates, payment of pension to retirees who have laboured tirelessly for the development of the society. The government should also do more in the promotion of staff. There should be more infrastructural development than we have now, for that is the only way a common man will say we are in a truly democratic dispensation.

For the labours of our founding fathers; such as Anthony Enahoro, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and all other past heroes and patriots of our land, not to go in vain, we should jealously guide and protect our democracy so that they can be proud of us wherever they are.

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