• Path to genuine democracy in Nigeria

    Path to genuine democracy in nigeria - nigeria newspapers online
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    Path to genuine democracy in Nigeria

    Despite its outward appearance, Nigeria’s democracy has consistently fallen short of true democratic principles. Reflecting on the events in our persistently perplexing political landscape over the past year compels me to reassess our fundamental understanding of democracy for the umpteenth time. If we all agree that democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, then its implementation in Nigeria starkly contradicts this definition.

    Since shedding the mantle of militaristic rule 25 years ago, Nigeria’s brand of democracy has progressively sidelined the very people it was meant to serve. The focus has shifted towards a political class preoccupied with power struggles and the endless pursuit of office. These politicians, once in power, entrench themselves, prioritising their own interests over the urgent needs and aspirations of the Nigerian populace. The essence of democracy—active participation, representation, and responsiveness to the public needs—has been compromised. Instead, we witness a democracy that has become more about the sustenance of power than the provision of public service.

    The consequences of this distorted democracy are far-reaching. It has led to a growing disconnect between the rulers and the ruled, fuelling disillusionment and apathy among the citizenry who feel alienated from the political process. The lack of accountability and transparency has allowed corruption to fester, further eroding public trust and hindering progress.

    Today serves as a timely reminder that we must critically reevaluate our democracy and get back to the basics i.e. prioritising genuine leadership and the responsible exercise of political office in the best interest of the people. Our democracy should not be a battleground for political gamesmanship but a platform for servant leadership and public service. We must establish a democracy where the electoral process is inviolable, where the forceful imposition of candidates upon the populace is unequivocally prohibited. A democracy where the theft of billions in public funds for personal enrichment, stored up for generations unborn, is not merely discouraged, but is met with the full force of the law.

    The hijacking of the electoral process, whether through violence, intimidation, or manipulation, undermines the very foundation of a representative government. It silences the voices of the people and replaces their will with the desires of a few. This cannot stand. Equally egregious is the embezzlement of public funds, resources meant to build schools, hospitals, and infrastructure, stolen to line the pockets of corrupt officials and their families. This is a betrayal of the public trust, a theft from the future of our nation. We cannot continue like this and pretend we are in a democracy – far from it.

    Democracy, at its heart, is about leadership that prioritises the needs and aspirations of the people, not just the manoeuvring and manipulation of politics. In Nigeria, we have become adept at playing the game of democratic politics, but have fallen short of true leadership that genuinely uplifts and empowers our citizens. The time has come to shift our focus from mere politicking to active, transformative leadership. This means moving beyond empty promises and partisan bickering, and instead working collaboratively to address the pressing issues facing Nigerians, from economic development and infrastructure to education and healthcare, with sincerity and accountability. It means putting the interests of the people ahead of personal gains and political ambition.

    Politicking may secure votes and win elections but it is principled, people-focused leadership that builds nations. We must move beyond the superficial trappings of political contests and dedicate ourselves to the serious work of governing.

    May God protect our democracy and guide our leaders to prioritise people over politics.


    • Godman Akinlabi is an author and leadership expert

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