-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:
In any procedural Democracy, the right to free speech, freedom of association and the demand for citizenship inclusion in governance, is the vent from which civil liberties breathes.
Therefore, public protests becomes an active and expressive aspect of majoritarian rule in any process of democratisation, as it were.
Except and unless there’s a looming Democratic backsliding, no democratic governance worth its salts frowns at public expression of approval or disapproval as it relates to government policies and the people’s welfare.
But this singular gesture, by the teeming Nigerian youths has become the bane in today’s post- protest Nigeria. The government seems to be very angry with the youth protest such that some identified leaders of the protest are daily being picked up in a gestapo manner by the government, to answer to their “misdeeds” of yesterday.
And the fact that negotiations and judicial inquiries to find a lasting solution to the crisis are going on alongside this ill advised move, is shocking. This shouldn’t be the way.
Anger and vendetta should not be weaponized against a harmless youth who only but genuinely demands for his bright future. The fact that the youth delayed at applying the breaks when the ovation was loudest, until hoodlums threw spanners to their noble work, shouldn’t take away the import of their agitation.
The expression of public liberty openly, is an integral part of the needful process of democratisation every society needs. Democracy in Nigeria is still in its infancy and therefore, requires citizenship inclusion either by way of disagreement or outright contribution to her quick growth and more.
Democracy presupposes representative governance, supremacy of the constitution and the people’s right to determine their future through the power of the ballot. And this is what the Nigerian youths bargained for.
Our Democracy must be seen to be on the right path of growth and progress. And one of the ways to ensure a consistent democratisation process, is by allowing the citizenry the right to determine their future without recourse to violence and vandalism.
As we continue with the round table talks in the various fora, let the man-hunt for the assumed leaders of the protest stop.The youth cannot be the scapegoat of their own struggle.
- Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online