IN a year likely to determine so many fundamentals for Nigeria and Nigerians, let us start off with a solid understanding of democracy, state of the nation, our powers as common people with decisive votes, and what we can do, individually and collectively to salvage the situation at hand and achieve some forward motion developmentally, rather than the current “one step forwards, ten steps backwards.”
Experience basically determines our conducts and ultimately our values, for the majority. As far as governance is concerned, our past experiences have not been good enough for democracy. For hundreds of years, we lived under the absolute rule of monarchs, when one man (or woman) reigned supreme. Between 1960 till date when democracy was introduced by the departing colonisers, more than half that period we lived under brutal military dictatorship, almost worse than the reign of kings and queens.
The last 23 years offered the longest sustained experience of “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” However, previous experiences robbed off badly on the “civilian rule.” The political elites, majority of who were buddies of the military brass and inherited civilian government and the warped constitution from them, simply carried on with that military mentality. In an underdeveloped country with so much poverty and ignorance, with monetised politics, religion and ethnic fault lines and suffocating corruption, genuine patriots and democrats (who fought for and achieved the return to democracy in the first place) as well as their various organisations and progressive political parties came under sustained brutalisation from various dictatorial cabals posing as democrats but firmly against restructuring for genuine federalism and blindly, greedily, solely after the oil rent dollar money.
With deepened poverty and ignorance amidst ethno-religious manipulations and institutionalised corruption, violent crimes and extremism that led to terror organisations took root and spread relentlessly. Without a policing and justice system that can rise to the occasion, we are where we are today with complex insecurity challenges and divisions that threaten not only democracy survival but the very existence of the country.
The ultimate solution is to return Nigeria to a genuine Federal Republic with all the implied content and context – with every state on its own (with all it has!) to cooperate however it likes with states in its region, and all contributing to the federal towards only national agenda uniting us, Nigeria is finally redeemed for greatness; it is the final panacea for productivity, prosperity, unity and peace. However, with the military-mentality of civilian political elites majorly united against that choice, the choice of the people in all upcoming elections (starting this year and ending next year), beyond party politics, is to identify aspirants and candidates that are against that choice and reject them, within all parties! By their reputations you shall know them! The simple thing to do with peoples’ power of vote is to vote out all elites opposed to restructuring to achieve genuine federalism and all elites without democratic disposition (internally within party and in government).
The task of popular organisations is therefore clear as far as mobilisation is concerned, aware that they are once again up against the usual suspects, ultimate Kingmakers and anti-federalist non-democrats: OBJ, IBB and Abdulsalami. There are political parties that will dominantly emerge, with a lesser 3rd option. Despite the scarcity of genuine political elites who are federalists and democrats within them, the fundamental task is to work passionately to get enough federalists and democrats into the state and national assemblies, as many such governors, and most critical of all a President of such disposition. After all the elections come the popular actions to demand implementation. It is a daunting mobilisation task but it is not unachievable, realising that unless it is achieved, bring the Holy Prophet or The Christ to run the present system, it can never deliver democratic or good governance, can never deliver development, prosperity, peace or unity. The slide into the abyss will only continue for another four years.