By: Idakpo Friday Nicholas
In 1999, the year Nigeria returned to civilian rule, Nigeria adopted a democratic system of governance. It also publicly proclaimed an adherence to democracy. The new turn was widely embraced by Nigerians. It was viewed as key to promoting legitimacy, changing cultures of exclusion and ensuring better decision making. Such goals were unattainable under the military regime.
But, despite over two decades of civilian democracy, inequalities in distribution of power and resources have continued to impact the people’s right to equal protection and due process. This state of affairs disproportionately affects Nigeria’s poorest people. One reason why these inequalities are sustained lies in the country’s failure to integrate in its governance democratic principles which guarantee the public’s right to know, participate in decision making and access justice.
Over the last two decades, Nigerians are unable to count any positive dividends of democracy because bad leadership effects has overshadowed all dividends of democracy Nigerians should have enjoyed. In recent times, things has turned from bad to worse as Nigeria’s economic menace has doubled in the last 5years. Sustained cases of killings and wanton destruction properties are on the rise as herdsmen and bandits melt terror and havoc on communities in all parts of Nigeria. These has led to the reality IDP’s within the country.
More so, hunger and starvation reflects the level of poverty ravaging Nigeria’s populace. Statistics shows that Nigeria is the capital of poverty in the world amidst her abundant human and natural resources.
Lamentations of Nigerians continue to grow daily. And in view of these lamentations, one can conclude that democracy in Nigeria has delivered the following dividend.
1. inequalities in distribution of power and resources
2. Insecurity i.e kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism
3. Extreme inflation
4. Groundbreaking poverty
5. Sectionalism and impunity
6. Abuse and misuse of power
7. Looting and re-looting of funds
9. Rights denial and violation
As we mark democracy Democracy Day this year, let us remind ourselves that States exist to deliver certain public goods to people within their territories. The most crucial of these are the provision of human security and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. A flawed system of governance is an impediment to social and political development, economic growth, peace and unity.
Governments and their institutions must be transparent, responsive and accountable to the people. Opportunities for participation in decision making processes must also be made available to young people in the same way as other members of society. The cultural assumption that elders cannot be challenged or corrected must be done away with.
Having firmly resolved to live in unity and harmony as an indivisible and indissoluble nation, the current situation offers Nigeria an opportunity to retrace its steps.
God bless Nigeria
Happy Democracy Day.