In Nigeria, Democracy Is Inequality!

Nigerians are not getting value for their money. Fictitious contractors, parochial failures, party patronage and politicians have been stingingly rich as a displacement against underprivileged Nigerians; a situation that this government fosters. This government lacks proper accountability with this regime. Nigerian people don’t have much confidence in this government, in general and the courts are very much a part of this political system. The similar results for judges and juries indicate disrespect of the legal system as a whole rather than for “just the people in the robes” Asked whether there is discrimination against underprivileged Nigerians in the criminal justice system, 27 percent of political office holders and 64 percent of the underprivileged Nigerians polled said yes. Our constitution should be amended to address this inequality.

However, I am not able to connect facts with a valid criticism of democracy. If democracy can be abused by this government, it serves to discredit democracy, or it devalues the people who abused democracy? If every theoretical form of government can be abused, then why isolate democracy for special slander, or why set democracy apart for unique denigration?

When you have enough power, you can tell the courts to get lost, you can overrule the self-government of an entire state, and you can obliterate the rule of law. It does not matter that Nigeria’s supreme courts ruled that Amaechi is a Rivers’ people governor, which expressed the wish not to keep alive artificially. We are entitled to ignore court rulings. Neither does it matter that the doctors say that her brain has largely turned to fluid. We may dismiss these facts with a wave of the hand, or a sound bite on Nigerian media.

Our law-makers know all. The federal government knows all. The strutting Dimeji Bankole and the unctuous David Mark know more than all the judges and doctors combined. They are cynically armed with their internal memo about how many votes they are going to get out of the House members. Some members of the national assembly speechified without knowing how to pronounce Nigeria’s name, or the most basic facts about our coat of Arm or Nigerian flag colours.

This government’s conduct is odious. The Law-makers are naive. They represent everything bad about legislating. Their principal pastime is raising large amounts of money from wicked people in return for hurting the public good. The notion that law-producing business is entitled to usurp Nigeria’s rule of law with the claim of being morally superior is akin to Obasanjo coming down to lecture us on marital fidelity.

Traditionally the purpose of democracy is to prevent tyranny (the accumulation of too much authority in the hands of one or a few). That is, democracy rests on a balance of giving enough power for what Hamilton called “vigorous and energetic government” and avoiding giving out so much power that it becomes abused. Democracy often aims in practice for the “least worst” of alternatives. Yet in Nigeria, the presence of retired old Soldiers has turned the system into a nightmare. They intimidate the politicians, commit the presidency and control the oil-wealth while rubber-stamping their ever-green presence in the council of state meetings.

This government has often been accused of discrimination against underprivileged citizens; this topic is discussed in the bimonthly get-together of “nigeria4betterrule” debate. Party stalwarts and ordinary citizens of Nigeria are not entitled to the same rights as their civilized counterparts. Segregation is most evident in the resource system as well as economic empowerment, where the underprivileged children and the Nigerians in government children go to separate schools, with the latter receiving much less funding. The result is fewer teachers and an inferior level of education. Other than that, only ruling participants are allowed to join the military, while underprivileged Nigerians are not.

Right now, all what the politicians are concern about is who is going to be the next president when they have not been able to show any positive contribution they have made to improve the standard of living of common Nigerians since they got to office. The current crop of politicians is really not interested in fashioning a progressive agenda for the nation as long as they can continue to reap where they have not sown. Nigerians have been 180 degree out of phase for so long and it is time to start deliberating on electing leaders that have interest of citizens at heart. It is also time for Nigerians to stop defending the indefensible. A leader that steals from citizens and carts the loots to foreign land can definitely not be a good leader for any zone of Nigeria but a self-centered leader. A leader that destroys the country’s educational infrastructure and portends to love his/her people must be declared persona non grata no matter which part of the country they come from.

In the exercise of such duties as lawmaking and constitutional amendment, members of the public and other interested bodies including Government at all levels, have a right, indeed a duty to convey viewpoints and memoranda informed by past and current experiences that will enhance the capacity of the National Assembly to improve on existing legislations make new laws, and fashion a new constitution as the need arises.

The PDP accordingly takes notice of the various lawful interventions and efforts that have spanned over a period of 6 years from many individuals and interest groups to influence the outcome of a. much sought-after constitutional review, the climax of which included the report of the recent National Political Conference, and the subsequent legislative processing of this Report, together with other recommendations before the Assembly for constitutional amendment. The PDP salutes the courage and commitment of those groups and individuals who considered the success of PROJECT NIGERIA important enough for them to have submitted memoranda to improve the current Nigerian Constitution that had been the subject of popular agitation for wider input beyond the document that was adopted and presented by the last military administration in 1998.

We would indeed urge many of our members and members of the public who have an input to make in the current constitutional amendment exercise lo please do so as an affirmation of our belief in tile RULE OF LAW and faith in the people of Nigeria to determine their political future.

Let it be understood, for the avoidance of doubt that as a party that grew out of the crucible of a coalition established against authoritarian rule and arbitrariness, our commitment to an expansion of the democratic space cannot be compromised. PDP will accordingly uphold the time-tested principles of legislative independence, Rule of Law, representative democracy and will definitely not support any proposal or venture that is neither democratic nor constitutional.

I find it outrageous that the lawmakers can be thinking of a salary raise when most workers are languishing with unpaid salaries for months if not years. I had already said the legislators were patently unconcerned. How, I also advocate an ombudsman system that mandates businesses employ only those they can pay for or change their business model. It is not that we need a socialist worker’s model to protect workers, but we do need a responsibility and integrity pact that defines in clear legal and sanction terms the relationship between the employer and the employee whilst safe-guarding the rights of the employee when the employer defaults.

Millions of Nigerians now have mobile phones, but they don’t have clean water, the streets are washed with sewage, the electricity bleaks, and most hospitals are in terrible states. Most Nigerian Governors use their position to pay homage and patronage to their political family-trees. This is where Nigerian economy gets biased. Until the people are ready to agitate, Democracy can be ri

gged through agenda control just like getting the right hand by repeatedly drawing and discarding, not asking certain questions or alternatively keeping asking them until the people get it right. Democracy can transmit and give expression to ethical values, but it cannot of itself justify anything, any more than Athenian democracy justified the horrors .The reprieve of Nigerian leaders does not show that our democracy made things right, but that it gave the opportunity to pursue the right – and they show that our democracy sometimes knowingly ignored ethics in favour of self interest.

I could use more recent examples, but precisely because they are so close they are likely to generate high emotions and obscure the point. I do not know what you mean when you say that Nigerian democracy justified the horrors. I have no idea what useful information is being given in any of the above material.Nigeria4betterrule interact group suggest that one can and ought never to stop studying and learning more about historical facts.

But by creating a system where the public can remove administrations, without changing the legal basis for government, democracy aims at reducing political uncertainty and instability, by assuring citizens that however much they may disagree with present policies, they will be given a regular chance to change those who are in power, or change policies with which they disagree. Democracy in civilized world is related then to the idea of constitutional government, setting limits beyond which a current majority in government may not step.

In Nigeria, some politicians believe that there is no system that can ideally order this country and that democracy is not morally ideal. These advocates say that at the heart of democracy is the belief that if a majority is in agreement, it is legitimate to harm the minority. The opponents to this viewpoint at the end of “nigeria4betterrule” debate say that in a liberal democracy where particular minority groups are protected from being targeted, majorities and minorities actually take a markedly different shape on every issue; therefore, majorities will usually be careful to take into account the dissent of the minority, lest they ultimately become part of a minority on a future democratic decision.

While considered by many an improvement over tyranny, this potential threat of coercive power is still cause for concern. For this reason, some countries (such as the USA) have created constitutions that protect particular issues from majority decision-making. Generally, changes in these constitutions require the agreement of a supermajority of the elected representatives, or, very rarely, a referendum. This means a majority can still legitimately coerce a minority (which is still ethically questionable), but such a minority would be very small and, as a practical matter, it is harder to get a larger proportion of the people to agree to such actions.

As well as constitutional protections for citizens’ rights (such as the right to stay alive, express political opinions and form political organizations, independent and regardless of government approval); some electoral systems, such as the various forms of proportional representation, attempt to ensure that minorities are represented fairly and equally in the nation’s legislative bodies, according to their proportion in the community. This differs from majority forms of democracy that tend to give legislative power only to the two most popular political parties. This, proponents of proportional representation often argue, results in more bitter partisanship and systemic discrimination against political minorities.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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