If you have read, Buchi Emecheta’s “Joys of Motherhood” you will understand the caption above. The principle of democracy has pose to be a lucrative and inspiring concept of governance over the years. It has laid it’s foundations on freedom, built its walls on human rights and cap it up with equality before the law. No doubt, this has so inspired the legendary president cum icon of the American state Abraham Lincoln, to have postulated that “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people” in this age of Homo sapiens, Dignity of Human person is very paramount and this concept preaches that, stands by that. So, without much ado, it is the right or seem to be the best ideology practicable in this contemporary time. However the walls are crumbling, democracy is seeming to lose the grip of it’s guiding principles. We could be committing a blundaric fallacy if we generalize it, you could argue with me that it is only peculiar to a particular clime. But! No! let us trace democracy from the roots, from its hometown, evaluating the beliefs of its founding fathers. There is a logical fallacy for this Argumentum ad populum, the fallacy of thinking that the existence of large numbers of people who believe a given thing is evidence of its truth. Common sense is either nonsense, or its none too common.
One thing is synonymous to democracy, THE PEOPLE!!! Democracy wield the people with so much power especially political power. Democracy gives the people the right to choose their leaders, to influence national decisions, to protest against tyrannical government e.t.c but one thing democracy failed to define is, who are the People? Sociology as a discipline has gone a great length in analyzing classes of people in the society; from the minority to the majority, from the bourgeois to the proletariat, from the elites to the commoners, from the literate to the illiterate, from the rich to the poor and finally we then had upper, middle, and the lower class of people. All this pyramic groupings have their role to how democracy develops. Naturally, this classes of people will definitely exist in EVERY society, and if democracy cannot accommodate all this people, what then is it preaching? Analogically, an illiterate who is politically ignorant, will not know how or why he choose a leader, he is then left helpless in the hands of another group/class of people who chooses for him. Thomas Jefferson stated “a democracy is nothing but a mob-rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine, our forefathers were familiar with this lawless democracy that led France to a senseless revolution where mobs of people took turns in lynching their employers and their leaders including the last fellow who led them on a guillotine parade. In democracy, the majority can abuse the minority, the rich can rob from the poor, the whites can prosecute the blacks, and the born can terrorize the unborn, because they can “out-vote” them. In a democracy, popular leaders can usurp their God-ordained limits, violate their oaths, deprive their lesser subjects of life or liberty or property without due-process and hand out tax-subsidies to citizens in exchange for ever-increasing power”
Characteristically, democracy has identified the use of elected representatives, since direct democracy has failed in this modern populous era of ours, No doubt, constituency zoning exist, tenure of office exist which intends to make the concept a balanced one. But! When the constitution, one of the pillars of democracy has pose to be one of its obstacle because it gives elected representatives the right to be re-elected, so even members of the congress can serve In office for decades. I wonder if it’s still the people’s choice. Henrik Ibsen stated “the majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can ever help rebelling against, who are the people who make up the biggest proportion of the population—the intelligent ones or the fools? I think we can agree that it is the fools, no matter where you go in this world. It’s the fools that form the overwhelming majority “ for this reason of insatiability of the people, democracy should rid itself of all forms of constitutional spices ranging from parliamentary immunity to prerogative of mercy and strengthen it’s checks and balances. John. F. Kennedy stated “ the true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith on the people- faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment—faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right”
Succinctly put, Nigeria is a case study of the crumbling democracy or never existing one . it has literarily made a folly-jest of what democracy stand for , it has sarcastically tampered with the ideals of democracy, with its corruptible paint it has discolour the beauty of the system, it hides under social and cultural background, which the concept of democracy absolutely respects. Democracy gives us the liberty to fashion out our own democracy putting in view the history of our people and not drifting from the pillars of the concept. Unfortunately, the elected representatives have misconstrued this fringe benefit; partly because they do not understand it themselves or they do not care, thereby promoting/demoting democracy through selfish wills and desires. And one of their strength is that they govern majorly a politically-ignorant class of people different from their “counterparts” in America. That is the main reason they will rig elections, they will embezzle public funds, they will take bribes before the public glare, major projects will be left abandoned, for that reason, they will not care about social amenities for the people and how critical is for their economic development and standard of living. They will allocate oil rigs for themselves and widen the gap between the rich and the poor, they will hold public positions for decades and feel it’s an hereditary position, unemployment will rise in a failed manifesto. I do ask myself, are we making a comedy out of democracy in Nigeria? Or probably this is our how definition of “cultural democracy” Democracy has not even worsen to this stage that the Afro-beat legend ‘Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’ has said “Democracy is the Demonstration of craziness and crazy people” which way Nigeria? I guess we shouldn’t wear a mask called Democracy, we need to develop a system that will suit our political lifestyle.
Summarily, prior views and writers have identified the failure of democracy has a result of tribal differences, ethnicity, class e.t.c. but we need to cast our eyes and mind beyond that. The early cities of Greece and America where democracy finds its roots , this factor didn’t surface. Enlightenment and education are what make democracy to breathe, live and survive. Without this, a sort of revolution is imminent in Nigeria, whether now or later, it will get to that “Animal Farm” stage of George Orwell . certainly there is no confusion about autocracy or monarchy or anarchy yet ‘democracy’ is the word most applied to our ”traditional form of government”. I would like to change this. I would like to reapply the word that best describes our system of government. I want to hear elected officials referring to our “traditional form of government”. I want citizens to understand the difference between our traditional form of government and a democracy.
Written by Ademola Taiwo, a student of
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye
Faculty of law @dmltaiwo7gmail.com