Past Regimes And The Future Of Democracy: Reprehensible Or Comprehensible?

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Leadership is indeed paramount in the fight against corruption. Poor leadership has no doubt fuelled corruption in this nation. Lack of accountability and transparency, which has been the hallmark of various administrations in the past, can to a large measure, be held responsible for the level and intensity of corruption in the country. Nigerians are still very distrustful of the current democratic process as they watch the performance of all arms and tiers of government with disillusionment.

If I could be left to imagine what it would look like if this nation is run without a leader; president or whatsoever! I thought of anarchy, I think of social order, I remembered crimes; I viewed greed, confusion and corruption. Again, I compare a nation where a nasty and greedy ruler commands people to kiss their shoes and bow down to them. Being a good and fair ruler of course is integrity but being greedy is not just a routine, but a smokescreen. All of us should know that the essence of becoming a ruler lies on making our dear country; Nigeria becomes a harmonious and successful one. Instead the unsettled questions left by past leaders are whether Nigeria could get splinted or not, as a result of their role and wild and brutal handling of state of the nation’s affairs.

It could be understood that our leaders deserve power, to maintain their position and strife to retain it, but if they should diverse ruthless methods: murder, lying, and any other crime necessary to gain/maintain power their veto, we cannot condone all those right violations which they impose on us in place of their own reputation for virtue. Whether it is better loved than feared or the reverse, Nigeria is our home and one would better be a contributor or back-off…but because it is difficult and dangerous to combine them, it is far better to respect and feared the land than ruse. Do you think statesmen today should follow this rule, Does the character of the state play any role?

Today those who have ruled us attributed Ungratefulness, Fickle mode, built among Liars, they betray anyone to save themselves they take citizens property at will, deceive and judge by their eyes rather than the proof. They almost invariably prey on their constituents, whether by diverting tax revenue to private accounts or by actually taking from all of us. However the best means of judging their steward is whether it can project power beyond its capital. Does the state have control over its borders, its countryside, its roads and rivers? Is highway robbery commonplace? Are the roads potholed?
However, I do not merely define what is good and what is bad in a ruler. As the second, there is a sense of inevitability, of fate, involved. Meanness yields to liberality, conflict to peace, sorrow to joy. Not ‘can yield’ but ‘will yield’. What is best will always rise to the surface and cast aside what is wrong, unjust or selfish. For a warning worth heeding that would give a hint that there was underlying an advice as sense of a right order for things, that there is a natural balance to life which, however might be temporarily suppressed.

Through our experiences in the nineteenth century we have learned how to successfully reconstruct a state, so question becomes whether we have the political will to do so. There are always early signs of failure, but even if they are noticed it is rare that they are acted upon. The single most important measure is to provide security, which will become a platform for reconstruction. The important factor here is that the people must believe they are secure so that they have confidence to rebuild. Similarly money alone will not solve the problem in Nigeria. Until there is a true security presence outside of the FCT, hoodlums will continue to dominate the countryside.

Who, then, are the people capable of misleading the leadership of this nation; sycophants or godfathers? Here it is worth noting a maxim from every commoner is base, low. Those who make a king can also break a king, and those people are mimed – noble or, perhaps more accurately, sacred people. It is worth pausing at this point to consider this contrast between commoner and noble. No ruler is able to rule except with the approval of the mimed classes. They elect him, they submit to his authority, they provide him each year with livestock, foodstuffs, labour and so on, they lead warriors to battle under his name. By withdrawing their support, they cause a ruler to lose the ability to function. Similarly, the upper echelons of the non-mimed population are dependant on the protection of a right as well as outsource their basic needs, those of lower rank dependent on their wealthier relatives and immediate family for their basic needs to strive for prosperity.

Here we have a familiar-looking image of a hierarchical social structure. Power lies at the top, and each stratum of society is dependent on that above it for security and a way to make a living. However, the early medieval Nigerian world-view went beyond simply defining to whom one owed allegiance and an appreciation of the dependency of lower echelons of society on those of higher rank. The vested interest in maintaining a good relationship works both ways. The similarity to the consequences of a ruler failing in his duties is also notable, suggesting that the processes operating for the ruler also apply for the leader.

It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy. Serving up an even bigger “Whopper” to a nation of people conditioned to be addicted to fast food and clever sound bites, this administration proudly proclaimed in April of 2007: Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labour, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace.

As is true with most concepts, there is no universally accepted or simple way to capture the meaning of democracy. Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens vote on all major policy decisions. It is called direct because, in the classical forms, there are no intermediaries or representatives. Representative democracy is so named because the people select representatives to a governing body. Representatives may be chosen by the electorate as a whole (as in many proportional systems) or represent a particular district or constituency), with some systems using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate some elements of direct democracy, such as referenda. Liberal democracy is a representative democracy (with free and fair elections) along with the protection of minorities, the rule of law, a separation of powers, and protection of liberties (thus the name liberal) of speech, assembly, religion, and property.

Conversely, an illiberal democracy is one where the protections that form a liberal democracy are either nonexistent, or not enforced. The experience in some post-Soviet states drew attention to the phenomenon, although it is not of recent origin. Napoleon for example used plebiscites to ratify his imperial decisions. At best, Nigeria is an illiberal democracy. Which really is not too surprising? While the Founding Fathers forged a Constitutional Republic that incorporated many of the values of the Age of Enlightenment, the government they crafted was largely representative of a patriarchal society dominated by crooked land-owners. Citizen had no honour to vote, chattel slavery remained legal, the indigenous population was excluded, and the Bill of Rights was an afterthought that many of the Founders initially opposed.

The truth is that corruption has undermined democratic governance in the past and has the potentials of still doing the same today. This study has provided insights into possible strategies that could assist in the war against corruption in this nation. The various causes identified against all odds are obvious, that good governance is a sine qua none for the eradication of corruption. We are worried about the poor economic conditions in this country. We are concerned about unemployment and high cost of living. We have little faith and hope in this country’s institutions and are yet to gain confidence in the political and democratic structures. This is understandable after decades of military dictatorship in the country.

Corruption is a very serious problem here in Nigeria. Households and enterprises mode portrays that corruption is among the most serious problems undermining such existence.
There seem to be general agreement on institutions that are prone to corruption. The armed forces, NNPC and the PHCN (NEPA) are generally den of the most corrupt Nigerians, yet there is still lack of confidence in the integrity of the political process in Nigeria. Enterprises and households still have very low opinion of the Federal State and local Government executives, political parties, and members of the various assemblies. The cost of corruption is generally high and has undermined the growth process. There is need for reforms in various sectors of the country. There is need for public institutions characterized by merit driven personnel, transparent management, and efficient corruption reporting mechanisms, and a high moral and reform minded staff, perform better and are able to control corruption.

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