Legitimacy of Governance, Succession, Policing, in Nigerian Politics: a way of life

by Ritchie Ejiofor

What defines the democratic society is the ability for the citizen to exercise freely their vote in electing or deciding who will or should rule over them. In most developed societies, these right or privilege is not ascribed it follows from the act of vigilance in the protecting of rights of the people even if it they (people) have to shed their blood to protect that fundamental rights. It follows that those who are mandated by the people, are held accountable by that singular vote and act, to rule properly and hold sacred public office as a trust.

The protection of, and enforcement of the constitutional rights and provision of the people, is entrusted with the police. The law enforcement hold it as sacrosanct duty to protect and defend the constitution of the land and enforce them without fear or favor both while exercising discretion, or and the law. Conversely, the judiciary it is that part to interpret the law it its clarity or, otherwise. I am sure these are basic social studies knowledge.

The constitution derives legitimacy from the people and it is autochonous ly derived. The infinite wisdom of great philosopher of democracy modeled by the ancient Greek system and modification by several other systems, must have anticipated that, the separation of powers into a three tier system will provide checks and balances and prevent autocratic abuse of power. The legislature makes the laws, implemented by the executive arms.

Now the question that is albeit rhetorical is why has Nigerian leaders even with the highest level of educational exposure and experience fallen short of the practice of democracy? I have espoused in other commentaries that it seems that the basic structure of our federation is faulty, as result, the outcome will always become a contraption that we conveniently describe as democracy. I have had series of intellectual discourses and various diatribes with colleagues and contemporaries and I hear the argument that, we (Nigeria) are making great strides since the army is at abeyance for a long time.

I am inclined to disagree every time the proponents of that argument confront me. I look at the whole package of development and using even the basic indices of growth and development, Nigeria has not made any stride since the colonial days and the reasons for these synopsis is not far fetched.

The police have made several changes but failed to either eradicate nor encourage the proper policing whose job of protecting or defending of the constitution or constitutional rights of the people. The police is still seen as,one that is teleguided by the executive, or used as a tool of suppression.

It is not indicative that the Nigerian police does not have fine gentlemen or ladies officers and ranks, it is that the Nigerian police system and its conceptualization is corrupt and rotten, it unfortunately cannot be revamped by mere wishful thinking. Policing and the criminal justice system are laced with corruption and abuse at every level. For one, centralized police system, does not work well in a democratic federal system.

A situation where you see police officers used as private escort for wealthy individuals including expatriates is befuddling. The hustling mentality, the lack of self-esteem by officers and rank, including poor pay structure will forever produce a corrupt and mediocre police system. It is unheard of in most democracies for government to provide barracks with housing accommodation for police officers. It is necessary to encourage a more community friendly police system where the police officers live within the society to reduce “we “ and “them” mentality.

It is common and I think most Nigerians are in agreement that Police is the tools for election, re-election aka rigging. This politicization of the police by politicians creates that succession issue where the serving politician amass wealth enough to buy back votes or use police to intimidate the citizens.

It is only in Nigeria that you see a community or state or sycophants organizing state birthday party for a governor or you see public party because a Governor commissioned a Flyover road!!! If that is not his job function what else is? The money used to host such party is never accounted for. It will take a lot of cleansing, to rid the concept of corruption and greed in Nigerian politics. You even hear Nigerians talk about corruption like it is embedded in the constitution.

As a nation, we have veered of the course or we never really did have a course in the first place.

We are programmed to think that development is only when a Governor, president or any executives build roads, industries. The reality is that, if all these do not impact the quality of life of the people you govern, then its times to redefine the concept of leadership. There are basic fundament needs of the people, right to life and enjoyment thereof, free speech, religion, liberty and housing. Good roads without, security, or healthcare. We as Nigerians understand healthcare as the building of palatial hospital edifices. We need health and Medicare. We need to cater for all class of infirmity; we have no disability benefits for those born with it or through service. Once your retire from leadership, Nigeria provides no further care, a case in point is our veterans, and civil servants, they live in deplorable conditions.

Our attitude to our selves and one another is exemplified in a visit to Nigerian consulate in New York; it will make you ask yourself, if it’s a crime to be a Nigerian. Our process is difficult; we deliberate make it so; the workers/staffs are the most dis-courteous and more friendly to non-Nigerian with pigmented skin. Back home, our airports showcases the fact that we are not a tourist delight and suggest that,we have no respect for one another. The sanitary conditions of the public restrooms leave so much to be desired. Just recently and I am sure it has not changed, the process which pensioners go through verification process was brought to my attention. A Nigerian who witnesses the hardship a pensioner goes through to get their hard earned pension would devise the plan to corruptly enrich themselves so as not to go through this pain at retirement.

There are basic ingredients that are necessary to create good governance, electricity should not be a privilege, we have been unable to produce steady supply of electricity due to political calculation tied to census which in turn is tied to election, which in turn is tied to resources allocation and resource sharing, which in turn leads to the scramble for power at the center. We have refused to produce accurate census figure. We have relied on estimates for nearly 50 years for fear of marginalization and political gains.

No country I know relies on population estimates for it’s budgeting. In the case of Nigeria, it is purely political, with each year, the centri-fugal and centri-petal forces begins to tear apart, so politicians at each spectrum of the divide, prolong the ds functionality for their own purpose. Our solution will start right through a revamp of the cultural trait beginning at home and from elementary school up. Right now our educational system fit perfectly to Late Sani Abacha’s 1983 description. Even Parents have become a major player in the corruption that have pervaded the culture and system.

While we think miracle or manna will come down to change the polity, it is necessary for us to start with the little things by changing our thought process and mind set . It is imperative that we accept corruption as a vice and hold public office accountable to the people.

To be continued

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1 comment

musa January 4, 2012 - 11:58 am

good job


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