DEMOCRACY FAILS WHEN.
Today, Nigeria commemorates the Democracy day, an opportunity to evaluate how much we have fared in representative governance and our accomplishments in the critical variables of Justice, Rule of Law, Equity and Fairness.
June 12 reminds us all of the fragile nature of Democracy and why every key player in government and political stakeholders must be cautious of their words, actions and inactions, as they carry very much weight to either sustain or truncate our nascent democracy.
While we commend our collective efforts as a people at building our democracy since return to democratic rule in 1999, it is incumbent on us all to vehemently oppose emerging forces and realities that impede on the progress recorded so far.
From our Electoral System to the Law Enforcement Agencies and our Judiciary, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that these institutions rise above external influences and internal decay and inefficiency which limits their working capacity and ability to perform their constitutional duties without interference. The failure of democracy any where in the world is a direct result of failure of institutions of government. Since these institutions are the drivers of democracy, when it is peopled by persons who care less about democratic principles or tenets, they manipulate the system in a fascist manner and promote arbitrariness over constitutionality. The end result is that we experience a militarized democracy instead of the unadulterated democracy where the rule of law is the only rule and not rule by force, coercion and intimidation.
Over the years, our country has witnessed a decline in the Human Development Indices as a result of failed leadership, corruption and misappropriation of funds by elected representatives, this situation run contrary to the very core tenets of democracy. In a Country where basic infrastructure and social amenities like motorable roads, clean and portable water, electricity, affordable housing, quality education and health care are unavailable or a luxury that only the rich and wealthy can afford, then democracy fails. Where security of lives and properties is a mirage, and people are murdered all around the country by bandits, kidnappers, terrorists, unknown gunmen, herdsmen and farmers clashes, then Democracy fails.
Where the number of multidimensionally poor Nigerians have tripled over the decades and people can no longer afford basic needs, due to rising inflation, economic mismanagement and anti-people policies, then democracy has failed. The denial of basic constitutional rights like freedom of speech of which a free Press is a crucial part of and attempts to muzzle and eliminate opposing voices are all indicators of a failing democracy.
The more devastating is the inability of the Nigerian people to elect their own representatives in Government at the general elections. The 2023 election was an opportunity to test run the viability and maturity of our democracy. The Nigerian people were ecstatic for the first time in a long while about the privilege that technology will afford them by making the election a free, fair and credible process, but then, the anti-democratic forces in Nigeria thwarted the process and indeed, democracy failed once again.
While we commemorate the democracy day and what it means to us all, we must reminisce on how far we have come, what needs to be done to change the status quo and uphold the very crucial democratic ethos necessary for nation building. Nigeria has come a long way and we must not allow the gains recorded so far in our democratic endeavors to be high jacked by a few power mongers who the Constitution is a mere compilation of non enforceable rules. We must insist on the right thing and ensure that only the right people occupy offices of government as this is the first step in entrenching strengthening our democracy.
David Chibueze Njoku, Esq.