–By Austen Akhagbeme:
In the last two decades of the return to civil rule, democracy seems to have offered us nothing beyond the motions of ritualistic and hollow political engagements as we transcend from one government to another, carrying along the same baggage of crises and disillusionment.
This looming democratic backsliding has become an existential threat to the actualisation of the laudable ethos of democracy on one hand and our peaceful coexistence as a people, on the other.
Yet, Democracy presupposes citizenship inclusion in governance through progressive and periodic electioneering processes; and above all, respect for the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution.
But what we have so far is the irony of a democratisation process that is practically midwife, controlled and delivered to us by a handful of privileged but powerful elites who more often than not, latched on our familiar fault lines to perpetuate their selfish hegemony.
Year in and year out, the citizen’s desires, experiences and expectations remain the same in that realm of disappointment and hopelessness amidst a consensus elite who seems to have confined our collective political future into their sizable imaginary pockets through their actions and inactions.
How has the ordinary Nigerian benefitted from the humongous amount of money being spent on elections and campaigns in Nigeria, other than the crumbs that come to the greedy few, who helped in endorsing their slavery through their compromises in subverting the system that was supposed to deliver hope for a greater number?
With a century-old history of general elections in Nigeria, we are still grappling with the rudimentary stage of representative governance, the worse being the paradoxical outcome of the introduction of technology in the last election. Electoral violence, voter intimidation, ethnic bigotry, institutional malfeasance and ineptitude remain the order of the day.
As we celebrate Democracy Day today, let us not be carried away by the mere fact and feat that political power was successfully wrestled from the military almost a quarter century ago. Rather, let us interrogate the factors that kept us subjugated and make Democracy counter-productive in our clime.
If we must practice Democracy, let it be that which encourages citizens’ inclusion in governance, rights and obligations and not this ritualistic and violent electioneering process that put us on overdrive while threatening our very existence as a sovereign nation every other four years.
- Austen Akhagbeme is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online