True Democracy

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

There is True Democracy which is the rule of the people on behalf of the people. Then there is “Pretend Democracy”, which is often a manipulation by a select class of people or a Cabal who superimpose their will on the hapless electorate. Often this Cabal would hijack the institutions and apparatus of government because they are corrupt, wily and rich. The reason for the hijack is so they may continue to control the organs of government and policy. The reason for this set-up is basically selfish. In every government, democracy or otherwise, the biggest source of contracts and business is government (especially regarding Education, Defense and Civil service recurring contracts). In Nigeria, the brigandage in the oil industry is a primary source of wealth for many; that is why the issue of the Petroleum Minister has become a national security issue.

Electoral Systems

As demonstrated recently in the Ukraine, the fact that someone purportedly “wins” election does not mean that he was voted in by the people. While the world is still searching for a foolproof method of conducting elections, we must realize that the electoral systems can be and often are easily manipulated by those with the means and inclination to do so. The true independence of the electoral system can only be guaranteed by a vigilant populace intent on opposing the manipulations of the power elite. A repeat of the example of flawed elections in 2003 can only be prevented by the parties and the general populace insisting on having equal representation of party men, pressure groups and professional bodies at INEC to make it truly independent of incumbent government control.

Press Dealings

Nigeria has come to the cross-road. The one road leads back to the past and a continuation of the same misrule of the corrupt club of rogues posturing as elder statesmen whose only interest is to steal all Nigeria’s money, build mansions across the world and stash the stolen money abroad while fooling the people with platitudes, windy speeches read on fast-track signifying nothing. The other road leads to genuine change, a new group of selfless leaders, smart, modern, sincere and transparent in policy and implementation. Persons not afraid to wrest power from the pretenders to democracy even at the risk of their lives as happened in the Ukraine.

Historical revisionist would seek to rewrite history and paint IBB the leader of the corrupt leaders in flying colors as if we did not live and experience first hand their cruelty. There is dirt that even a hundred million dollars cannot launder. It is a fact that IBB was driven from power by the groundswell of opposition to his misrule culminating in the June 12th uprising. You cannot change that. It beats the imagination that anyone who lived in Nigeria 1985-1993 would write a glowing report of IBB except in sarcasm. All you need to do is go back in time to the newspapers of the day to find out the state of the nation when he was the “Missruler -in- Chief”. But wonders will never end. In a fledging democracy, persons are also entitled to their opinion as was this unsigned article in the Vanguard Newspaper (I hope it is not their editorial opinion) found at: This person waxed lyrical on IBB’s leadership qualities and sought to defend him from being demonized.

“In many commentaries about IBB, what one finds as the anger of such writers borders on the annulment of June 12 presidential election, alleged murder of Dele Giwa, the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), his alleged refusal to appear before the Oputa Panel, an allegation that he institutionalised corruption in Nigeria, etc.”

We are not angry at IBB when we write that he does not qualify to rule a democracy. We are only presenting the facts as they are. In a democracy, the people rule. The elite, headed by IBB had toyed with the system, formulated policies, laid down ground rules and booby traps for the people (while swearing “Insha Allah, we shall not stay a day longer than necessary”). The people were patient and trooped to the polls to vote between TWEEDLE DEE and TWEEDLE DUM. One of them won based upon the rules set by IBB and his cohorts, rather than be allowed to accede to the Presidency, MKO was humiliated, and his election nullified; he was arrested, locked up and killed in jail. That is a great democratic sin that is akin to the unpardonable sin of the Bible.


Transparency means that all the people have access to government dealings and can ask probing questions without being harassed by law enforcement agents. The press has a very important duty to expose evil and promote good. Often the Nigerian press has done a great job against many odds. Investigative journalism can bring to light the things politicians would rather hide. This I think was the special gift that Dele Giwa had. He was on to an expose with the “Gloria Okon Story”, a story of a drug ring involving IBB’s wife, Mariam. He was suddenly killed by a letter bomb. The papers carried the news that he had some run-in with the government at the time and had just returned from an investigation interview with security forces. Those who were witnesses said, he had intoned that the letter he received was from State House before he was blown apart and died. Much as it is circumstantial evidence, IBB needs to be investigated regarding his role if any, in the murder of Dele Giwa. Question to ask would be: Does IBB or his wife know of any Glory Okon? We need these answers before anyone can clear IBB to contest elections. This is because unlike Nigeria, the west does not trifle with any accusation of drug involvement. Any future President of Nigeria must be clear on his drug involvement.

Military Qualification

The Vanguard write up further contributes:

“We also agree that the military intervention in politics contributed a great deal to our underdevelopment. But should that be a sufficient reason to ban retired military officers from participating in politics? Is the military not a career like any other? What justifies a retired civil servant, a Police Officer, a Customs Officer, a lawyer or businessman to participate in politics and a retired military officer debarred”

All should be able to contest fairly for electoral positions. However, Government is not just about the façade represented by charisma and VIP ceremonies, it is hard work that has a basis in what skills the individual brings to the table. There is no explaining balance of trade currency stabilization, global trade Separation of Powers or even transparency to an unlearned man no matter how well intentioned. He may pretend he has grasp of it, but an interaction with the seasoned would reveal his ignorance. The military in Nigeria find it hard to adjust to democracy because they are not taught in their profession to trash out issues in a give and take debate looking for superior arguments and best practices (OBJ has dispelled any benefit of doubt we gave them). While we do not oppose any military person from seeking the highest office of the land, success in your profession may be the only yardstick to measure your skills. How have the Military Generals fared. Have they maintained Nigeria’s territorial borders? Have they subordinated to constituted authority or they have overthrown it? Have they managed in a proper manner Nigeria’s resources? We think the military as a class has been prodigal with the resources of Nigeria with IBB as the chief perpetrator.

Policy Objectives

If IBB or any of the other members of his Cabal have any policy objectives, we have listened and read carefully, we do not see any because they have none. They just want power to loot the treasury, the only industry they are good at. The Military apologists today do not give us any useful clue as to their policy objectives. What does IBB think of Corruption in government? Would it be SAP that the World Bank has apologized about misleading third world economies?

“Concerning the Structural Adjustment Programe (SAP) it was designed to restructure the economy for self-reliance and to put it on the path of sustainable development. It was a well thought out vision whose spirit is the reformation of the economy for better performance. Today, everybody acknowledges that some forms of reform are inevitable if the nation is ever to move forward. If IBB’s vision in 1985 became a driving force of the economy in 2004, does the man not deserve a kudos rather than being vilified?”

Hello! Did I miss something? SAP was so good, it crippled business, cut production, raised inflation, devalued the currency without corresponding benefits, caused brain drain to Britain and America. And yet we should keep it? If the writer speaks for IBB, we should say NO WONDER! I guess we may say that IBB got the results he sought in SAP so he wants more of the same.

Did I read of Forgiveness?

The writer concedes that IBB made mistakes regarding June 12th:

“June 12 is a burden on IBB. It is his albatross. It is a mistake which is injurious to his identity. But let me ask: Do past sins foreclose the prospect of virtuous living in future? Let us cast our eyes on the lives of St Paul of the Bible, St Augustine of Hippo, King David of Jesse and other immortals of history, for inspiration and guidance.”

This being an area I specialize in, here is a freebie: There can be no virtuous living without REPENTANCE. All les enfants terrible had to repent and in some cases pay retribution for God to accept their renewal. Yes June 12 is IBB’s albatross. It is central to Democracy in Nigeria. How are we sure if we allow IBB to participate in another free and fair contest, he shall not seek to alter it if it does not conform to the wishes of his almighty Cabal?

This is my view; whatever prescription of leadership we have if the twin issues of Transparency and Accountability are not brought to the fore, the policies shall not work. This is the main reason IBB does not qualify, he and his cohorts are shady and thrive on corruption. The people must rise up against the purveyors of graft in government. Then government shall become unattractive to these pretending democrats.

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TERESA RIOS May 3, 2005 - 4:13 pm


TERESA RIOS May 3, 2005 - 4:13 pm


E. Terfa Ula-Lisa May 3, 2005 - 1:23 am


I saw the mistake and wrote to Gamji. They still failed or omitted to correct it. Nor did they reply to apologise to me.


Anonymous April 25, 2005 - 12:00 am


I remember only reading that he was dead. I hpoe he was saved before he died.

It sure would be devastating to one of my law mentors.

Reply January 1, 1970 - 12:00 am

sorry,I noticed that your article “True Democracy”,was published in with my name.Kindly get in touch with them and make the necessary corrections.Sorry once more.


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