Our Democracy Is Not Worth Celebrating


By Abadom Lawrence Amechi

THOSE who hold the state in trust for our captors: Western oppressive powers, will always enjoy themselves before their assignment life span expires, irrespective of whose ox is gored. According to Senator Godswill Akpabio, “We know that Nigerians are hungry, but that will not stop us to approve a private jet for the president. His life is more important now than ordinary citizens. We have to do that as fast as possible”.

What Senator Akpabio was saying is that the president cannot be sacrificed for the people, but the people can be sacrificed for the president. This is the kind of country we find ourselves. Our leaders have never been sacrificial. When it is their turn, they come, enjoy and leave the nation deformed. For the National Assembly, it is payback time, because about a year ago, each one of them got luxury Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), despite the tough economic situation Nigerians are grappling with. The assembly bought “operational vehicles” for its 469 members, even though the cost is above the package prescribed for the lawmakers by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). A move that many Nigerians have described as insensitive.

It is becoming increasingly clear to us all that those who struggle for power have no idea what to do with it, other than to enrich themselves, friends, cronies, tribes and ensure that neo-colonial leash, which they hold in trust, are well fastened on us. From 1999 to date, we have not made progress in any area of our national life. Our roads are death traps, our educational system is in shambles, in fact, rumbles from ASUU headquarters suggests imminent strike. We have no national airline, no national shipping line. Our four refineries are dead. Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) had its life exchange for mobile telephone system. Electricity generation has not gone beyond 4,200 MW despite huge investment made in that sector and the kangaroo reforms. Nigerians are hungry as prices of food stuffs have gone beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. Presidential democracy has not been able to solve one bit of our numerous problems. The system is itself a white elephant project.

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Reasonable Nigerians are lost as to why we should celebrate democracy, a system that has brought so much misfortune, pains, killings, anguish, corruption, cultism, untold hardship and poverty in the land. People who celebrate democracy are simply rejoicing that their turn was made possible by their manipulative ingenuity. For PDP, it was May 29th and for APC it is now June 12th. If Labour Party emerges, one day it may be February 25th, because what happened in February 25th 2023 elections was worse than June 12th 1993. Our elites are united in deceit. Neither June 12th nor May 29th carries any positive hope for our democracy. We have civil rule, but not democracy.

The point should be made clear that the threat to democracy, as we have seen in Nigeria, are the affront on foundational principles of democracy itself, the notion that all citizens have a right to freely participate in selecting who governs them; the notion that votes will be counted, and the party that gets more votes, wins, that losers concede, that power is transferred peacefully, that the winners don’t abuse the machinery of government to punish losers, and entrench themselves, and make it impossible for other parties to compete in future elections; the notion that the judiciary should be independent and that nobody is above the law, and that our political debate should at least aspire to be rooted in facts and logic, rather than fabrication and propaganda.

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A good democracy should have its roots in the people. That was why Amilcar Cabral, the Guinean Bissau/Cape Verdean diplomatic and political revolutionary said that “our people will form the mountains and forests where our fighters will hide”. Democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln as government of the people, avails citizens the opportunity to decide who rules them. It makes leadership firmly rooted in the people. It connects citizens to their leaders through its many functional organs and processes. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, democracy disconnects the citizens from their leaders. It is used to repress democratic rights. Our leaders are chosen in Chatham House or capitol Hills, because our captors who gave us independence without freedom, justice, fairness and equity must ensure that the man who gets the reins of power should be able to fasten and maintain the leash of the captors.

Like Shehu Sani did say during June 12th democracy day dinner, even though he was also being economical with the truth; “National Anthem cannot unite a nation. National Pledge cannot unite a nation. Constitution cannot unite a nation. Nations are united by the ideals of freedom, justice, equity and fairness.”

The point should be made clear that the threat to democracy, as we have seen in Nigeria, is the affront on foundational principles of democracy itself, the notion that all citizens have a right to freely participate in selecting who governs them; the notion that votes will be counted, and the party that gets more votes, wins, that losers concede, that power is transferred peacefully, that the winners don’t abuse the machinery of government to punish losers, and entrench themselves, and make it impossible for other parties to compete in future elections; the notion that the judiciary should be independent and that nobody is above the law, and that our political debate should at least aspire to be rooted in facts and logic, rather than fabrication and propaganda.

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Accountability is a major issue in representative government. In fact, accountability is everything. For instance, Nigerians expect to see transparency and accountability of the savings arising from the removal of fuel subsidy and exchange gains arising from the unification of the exchange rate and their shares at FAAC among the three tiers of government.

A lot of people have argued that a government that wants to turn our fortune right will reduce cost of governance. We just learnt that in Argentina, President Javier Milei dropped public spending by 50% and as a result inflation has dropped to 4.2%. Ordinary citizens should be the ones to celebrate democracy if they see the gains. Apart from people in power who are hypocritically praising democracy because the system has delivered their turn, no ordinary citizen can conveniently say that our democracy is worth celebrating.

It is 25 years of uninterrupted looting and wanton destruction of our economic ecosystem by privileged ruling elites. In fact, we are 25 years backward. Is that worth celebrating?

Comrade Amechi, a trade unionist and pro-democracy activist, writes from Lagos.


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