Democracy as succinctly put in a layman’s definition is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. To give a more encompassing idea of the concept of democracy, it is the physical and mental acceptance of political freedom and equality. That is the spirit of democracy.
Some of the principles of democracy include social, political, and economic equality without discrimination; participation of citizens in governance, accountability, and transparency of leaders, respect for human rights, the existence of the rule of law, zero abuse of power, and free & fair elections. When all these principles are in place, any nation is said to be practicing an ideal democracy. Democracy is indeed a beautiful concept.
Yesterday, one of the largest nations in Africa, Nigeria, celebrated its Democracy Day, but some questions need to be posed on the practice of democracy in Nigeria. Is Nigeria a democratic state as it claims to be? Is the day worth celebrating?. If we were to contrast all the ideals of democracy, with the apparent reality of what we are practicing today, can we proudly say we are practicing democracy ideally? If we critically scrutinize the principles of democracy, we would get to understand that the practice of democracy isn’t truly deep-rooted in our political system.
When it comes to the rule of law, has it been fully upheld by any of the so-called “democratic regimes”. Even the current government has been described as the worst ever for its demonstration of disdain and insensitivity for the rule of law in the country. To ensure respect for the rule of law, democracy must be inviolable. If there is no genuine democracy, there won’t be respect for the rule of law.
When it comes to accountability and transparency, is there any administration that has come close to achieving it? Nigerians are yearning for good governance and if this quest must come to fruition, then, accountability and transparency must be a guiding principles.
What about the participation of citizens in governance, which is a very critical and vital aspect of democracy because power lies with the people? Do we experience such a democratic principle in Nigeria? It is the citizen’s participation in the political process that determines the state of any nation. In a country like Nigeria, the citizens don’t get to influence the decision-making process. This can be seen with most of the bills that are signed into law in the country. They are not people-centric and do not reflect the thoughts of the people. If active citizen participation was allowed, Nigeria would have been much better than it is today.
None of the democratic regimes we’ve had so far have had great respect for human rights. Under Buhari’s administration, the violation of human rights was at its worst.
What about political and economic equality? Have we been able to achieve this as a democratic state? Decades after decades, the chasm between the rich and the poor widens. Nigerians are becoming more dispirited over time. The nation’s resources are under the control of the elite, and this has allowed for poverty and inequality in our society.
If Nigeria isn’t a democratic state, what then is it? Nigeria is operating on systems and structures of governance utilized by democratic nations, but that doesn’t mean the country is a democratic state. Nigeria is many things but a democratic state. It is a kakistocracy and kleptocratic state. All these are manifest in our political system and have kept democracy at a tight corner.
Why Nigeria is a Kleptocratic State?
Kleptocracy is a government of the thieves, run by the thieves and for the thieves. Nigeria is a kleptocratic state because it has kleptomaniacs as its leaders. A majority of those who guide and direct the affairs of the country has a major aim, which is to pillage our commonwealth. They lack even an iota of concern for the good of the populace and the nation at large. We can best refer to this set of people as kleptocrats, not democrats.
Why Nigeria is a Kakistocratic State?
Kakistocracy can be described as a system of government-run by the worst and least qualified citizens in a country. Such is what we see in Nigeria. Everything seems to get worst by the decade. Worsening economic meltdown, heightened insecurity crisis, increasing societal upheavals, and other worsening social, economic, cultural, and political problems. Nigeria as a nation has been progressively retrogressing from time immemorial due to the kind of unqualified leaders that have gained access to the upper echelon of power.
There may never be a nascence of democracy. It may be inconceivable as long our political system isn’t overhauled.