NO MORE PROMISES
Synopsis The theme of this essay “A democracy that delivers” is an apt one coming in the wake of Nigeria’s emerging democracy. This essay titled “No more promises” discusses democracy and its operations in Nigeria where I live. It examines governance in Nigeria within the context of the challenges of returning to a democratic system of governance after many years of military rule. It looks at citizens’ expectations and how far they have been met in ten years of a new democratic dispensation. It links democracy with participatory government and critically assesses the role of the Nigerian youth in ensuring that the dividends of democracy are enjoyed by the ordinary man on the street. Finally, the essay ends on a note of call to action and proposes recommendations for youth involvement in building a truly democratic Nigerian society. Introduction I turn on my tap in the morning and water fails to gush!! (Electricity has become scarce and my generator has stopped working after acting as alternate power supply for one week!) Elsewhere in the city, a mother lets out a loud wail!!!Her baby has died (the Government hospital staff has been on strike for two weeks and there is nobody to attend to her ailing child). A commuter reaches into his rucksack for his mobile phone and alas, it has developed wings. Apparently a pick pocket needs his phone more than he does (It all boils down to the fact that millions of Nigerian youth are not gainfully employed). Year 2011- Elections are around the corner and a group of people are discussing; “I have never voted, what use is it anyway? “Nigerian Politicians are not sincere”. I resignedly turn off my television set as I see yet another old recycled politician on screen, making promises that I know will amount to naught. Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy at Gettysburg as ‘a government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ is brought to question. In Nigeria today, there is serious citizen apathy and loss of confidence in government at both State and Federal levels. Corruption is at its peak and individual enrichment is the order of the day. Has democracy failed? Is it something to be enjoyed? I live in a nation today with restless people. People tired of promises, people in search of something: a democracy that delivers!
What is a democratic government’s responsibility to the Nigerian People? May 29, 1999 heralded the dawn of the fourth republic in Nigeria. It marked a return to democratic rule after several years of military rule characterized by much infrastructure decay and institutionalized corruption. The hope of the average Nigerian for a just society became rekindled with the institution of a democratic government and it was evident that the new government had a huge responsibility to the Nigerian people. Democracy in Nigeria is in its infantile stages, but the right seeds need to be sown if it is to live up to its billing and its dividends are to be enjoyed. The responsibility of government to its people can be outlined as follows: 1. Respect for the rule of law 2. Acting in the best interest of its citizens 3. Provision of basic social amenities (Electricity, Water, Good roads, Security, Clean environment) 4. Accountability The inherent flaw in the operation of a truly democratic government in Nigeria starts from the constitution which is not truly representative of the people’s wishes as it was a decree promulgated by the military government before the transition to democratic government in 1999. As such a review of this constitution is necessary in order to have a guiding document which is truly representative of the needs of the Nigerian people. Plans are underway in the legislature to review same.
Challenges of Democratic Governance in Nigeria Democracy as a phenomenon is not just a question of the citizens’ rights. It is also a matter of responsible governance, mutual understanding and accountability on the part of public office...
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