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What Type Of Democracy Is This?

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 Despite Our Much Vaunted Democracy, Nigeria Is Still Not A Democratic Republic

Tochukwu Ezukanma

The dividend of democracy is not economic prosperity, rule of law or the elevation of societal morals and ethics. The dividend of democracy is not quality education and its accessibility to all, effective health care delivery system, infrastructural development, steady power supply, etc. After all, in some countries of the world, these are existing in-tandem with dictatorship. The dividend of democracy is power.

The 18th century German sociologist, Max Weber, once defined power “as the ability to get others acting in accordance to your will”. When Nigerians gain the dividend of democracy – power – they will have all the elected and appointed officials and every institution of government acting in accordance to their will. As such, the powers of the governing will be subordinated to the will of the governed. Then, Nigerians will levitate from pawns and stooges in the elite power game – that we now consider democracy – to become the focus of the interests, concerns and actions of elected and appointed government officials and every institution of government. And the Nigerian ruling elite will inevitably descend from supercilious, profligate, over-paid, self-indulgent and money-stealing panjandrums to public servants.

It is a political dynamics that will inevitably bring about – economic prosperity, rule of law, social justice, effective health care delivery system, infrastructural development, steady electricity supply, etc., not at the benevolence of a dictator but as dictated by the will of the people. The problem of Nigerian democracy is that, like a dictatorship, the powers of the governing are not subject to the will of the governed. Without this indispensable ingredient of democracy, Nigeria remains a dictatorship with the façade of democracy.

Not surprisingly, as in a dictatorship, the political class repudiates the public will and ride roughshod over the masses. They undermine a principled distribution of the national wealth by strengthening an unconscionable economic system that reinforces the inordinate wealth of an elite few – politicians, government officials, businessmen, super-star pastors, etc. – at the economic strangulation of the generality of the people. In their avarice and extravagance, many state governors misappropriate public funds to the point of not paying the salaries of state employees. In some states, civil servants are not paid their salaries for months, sometimes, up to 18 months. To work for so long without pay must be unimaginably agonizing. It is gross; disconcertingly redolent of slavery. Nothing reminiscent of slavery in the 21st Century can be in consonant with democracy.

It is lamentable that our relatively wealthy country is the home to the greatest concentration of extreme poverty in the world. In addition, this our “poorest oil-rich nation in the world”, ranks with the poorest and war-torn countries of the world in terms of incidence of poverty, life expectancy, child mortality, and other social indexes. It is disproportionately populated by dispirited and demoralized masses wrenched by economic hardship and consumed by the endless drudgery for daily subsistence. It has been written that “the root of bondage is poverty…” The incredible mass poverty in this land of plenty must be a stratagem by the ruling class to keep the people in bondage.

There is homelessness, especially, in urban areas; people live in open air and under the bridges. For many that can afford housing, their habitation is pitiful. In them people are crowded, sometimes, up to 10 persons in one room. Their neighbourhoods are festering squalors, with gutters clogged with filth and debris, providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and all forms of vermin. Not surprisingly, dirt borne diseases, like malaria and typhoid fever are widespread. Nigeria is also home to the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in the world. With only 2% of the world’s population, she accounts for 11% of the world’s maternal mortality and 12% of the world’s under-five mortality. It is a sad reality that persists because the ruling elite do not patronize Nigeria hospitals; they jet-out to hospitals in India, Britain, Germany, etc., for their own health care, and even, routine medical check-ups.

In their Apartheid-like systematic humiliation of the masses, state governors have routinely ordered the bulldozing of the homes and businesses of Nigerians without due process. Ostensibly, these are done in furtherance of urban redevelopment programmes, but there are evidences of other motivations, like the appropriation of choice real estate. The methods adopted in most of these demolitions are tear-jerking. Homes are demolished with little regards for the hapless and helpless men, women and children abruptly rendered homeless and the indigent dispossessed of their sources of subsistence. Thus, families, including children, babies and pregnant women, with no alternative accommodation are unexpectedly thrown outside in the rain and cold. A man’s home is his castle. It is inviolable, even, when it is an illegally built shack. The removal of a man from his house without painstaking adherence to due process and the rule of law is tyranny.

The president, governors and a number of the other members of the political elite, with the arrogance of power and contemptuous indifference only appropriate of colonial masters and medieval feudal lords, run people off the street with their siren-blaring motorcades. Those that failed to hurriedly get off the street are beaten up by their security details. In the past, these speeding, siren-blaring motorcades had run people over and caused fatal accidents. In their snootiness and inconsideration, they neither admit their offenses nor apologize. Like the power elite they serve and represent, the Nigerian Police Force treats the masses as though they have no right worthy of protection by the law. Not surprisingly, it is world renowned for brutality, trigger-happiness and extra-judicial killings.

So, despite our much vaunted democracy and recent celebration of 20 years of unbroken democracy, Nigeria is still not a democracy. Nigeria will become a genuine democracy when the ruling elite become subject to the powers of the electorate, and consequently, act only in accordance to the will of the people, which is antithetical to electoral fraud, profligacy, theft of public funds, and other abuses of power and degradation of the Nigerian masses.

About the author: Tochukwu  Ezukanma writes from Lagos.



  1. Metu Nyetu

    July 8, 2019 at 9:13 AM

    YES! THE PRIMARY DIVIDEND OF DEMOCRACY IS power. That is why PDP’s slogan says Power to the people. Now, I am not here to say that PDP lived up to that slogan: They fell far short of it in several aspects. The truth that true democracy gives power to the masses. That is why civil protests carry much wait in a democratic government.

    BUT HERE IN NIGERIA, EVEN THE GOVERNMENT COULD tell you not to protest, and arrest you if you disobey, even when the protest is 100% peaceful. What a country we live in!

    • Metu Nyetu

      July 8, 2019 at 9:17 AM

      I MEANT, true democracy carry much weight, and not wait.

  2. Jilo

    July 8, 2019 at 4:09 PM

    Thanks for your brilliant write-up. Mr. Ezukanma, do you think people in the government are not aware about these? they only want to keep people in darkness and keep oppressing them. The Nigerians leaders enjoying suppressing their people instead of working along with them. In any egalitarian society, the government gives its people an opportunity to express themselves and ask for what could benefit them but in Africa democracy it is other way round yet we are deceiving ourselves that we must embrace democracy. I’m not even sure if 3/4 of the bureaucrats understand what democracy is all about.

    As I have been saying all along in my previous comments, we don’t practice democracy in Nigeria, we only practicing authoritarianism politics. If you visit some Countries where democracy is being practiced, no one needs to tell you that the system of government is democracy. In my own little opinion, I think we must scrap these democracy and come up with a form of government that will address the need of people in Nigeria. All these democracy is just a deceit because our own interpretation of democracy is personal enrichment. If anyone can struggle to attain position of power, that individual has won lottery jackpot by just going there to enrich himself and his family. If this is what we referred to as democracy then, there is no way we can do something meaningful for ourselves let alone the nation as a whole.

    We all visit democratic nations and we appreciate what they are doing for their people, we appreciate how they put things in place to the extent that we all want our children to go live there because you see how well structured those Countries are. The question I want to ask our bureaucrats is, why can’t they incorporate the same idea into our society so that everybody will benefit from dividend of democracy as you’ve mentioned? the answer is crystal clear, we don’t mean well for ourselves. We are so evil, destructive, greed, oppression, ethnic bigot, control for power and lack of goodwill. All these cannot survive in any democracy. People in democratic nations are sincere among themselves by fighting for one common goal and we are not.

    The problem we are facing in Nigeria of today is not caused by Buhari or Baba go slow as you called him but ourselves. Now I want anyone to tell me how could Buhari alone can solve these problem without the support of people surrounding him. All hands must be on deck to solve the problems of this nation. We don’t have to win an election or be in position of power to contribute towards the progress of this nation. We need to be aggressive in our thinking and think beyond Nigeria f tomorrow. We need to start thinking of how this nation can survive without oil. We are all ranting now over a diminishing income which is mainly our crude oil but can this nation survive on this beyond another decades? other advance nations are working tirelessly to get themselves out of dependency on oil.

    As you are all aware Countries like US, UK and other advance Countries are now building Electric car, Hybrid car, Solar car, Geo thermal (energy from the ground) Fossil fuel etc. All these is to jettison our oil. Later on, how could we survive when there is no more oil to sell? We all condemning Buhari but what would his successor do when he finally get the mantle of power.

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