The speech below was delivered as opening remarks by Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, at the inaugural lecture of the Freedom House democracy lecture series held at Muson center, Agip hall, Lagos on June 30, 2014.
I thank all of you for participating in this maiden Freedom House lecture on democracy. I want to express special appreciation to Professor Larry Diamond for honoring us by accepting to deliver this inaugural address. It is my fervent hope that what we embark on today shall become a perennial institution, a permanent feature of our democratic landscape.
Such lectures are needed because our nation needs a broader, deeper appreciation of democracy in all of its complexities and ramifications. To state it bluntly because I know of no other way to state it, we do not understand enough about democratic governance and practice.
What we practice is often not democracy. How this nation is governed is a hybrid process where democracy is often the junior partner and minority attribute.
As such, the system of governance we practice has not yielded the desired results – the dividends of democracy have been painfully elusive. How could it be otherwise? It would be wrong to anticipate a pear to grow from apple tree or a dog to give birth to a goat. Thus, it is wrong to expect this current form of governance to produce the fruits of democracy when it is the wrong type of tree.
To think otherwise is not to be optimistic. It is to engage in unproductive wishful thinking that precludes us from doing the heavy and hard work needed to transform “what is” into “what ought to be.” This lecture series is a modest contribution toward this benign change.