WHAT is the foundation of Democracy and its basic assumption? Simple – the wishes of the majority should prevail. What are the wishes and common interests of the majority? Not far fetched at all – a roof over the head, clothes on the body, food on the table, education for children, good roads, access to health services and security to life and property. Freedom caps it all: freedoms of expression, movement, association, believe; which are rights equally accessible to all across gender, cultural, religious and political divides.
Democracy is, therefore, not an end in itself. It is a means to achieving those stated ends. It is why democracy as a method of government is hailed as the best form of government on earth because of the goals, not because of the name. Democracy, however, does not operate itself, human beings operate it. Whether democracy works or not is, therefore, not the fault or favour of democracy, it is kudos or knocks to its operators.
Who are then the best sets of humans to operate democracy? They are called Democrats – those who believe in Democracy. So, before you judge the successes or failings of democracy anywhere, ask yourself, is it being operated there by democrats? If not, why do we expect that devils can deliver heaven? It is like handing over an independent country to colonial masters to run and expecting the prosperity of the natives. How best do lions know as to taking care of lambs?
Fundamentally and personally, there is the need to ask ourselves “how much of a democrat am I”? Every good thing in the world begins with one person thinking it out and putting it into action. Considering the goals of democracy outlined in the opening paragraph, measure yourself on the democratic scale by simply judging how committed you are, in thought, disposition and especially in action to the collective good and the prosperity of the majority – not just yourselves and your clique. That is how much of a democrat you are.
Democracy is battered when people who would rather run a slave camp hide behind its fancy name to pursue self-serving ends. Non-democrats come in several categories and are usually successful behind their masks and deceptive make-ups. However, they generally do not believe in the universal equality of all citizens before the law, nor do they believe in separation of powers between executives, legislators and judiciary. For them, the executive is almighty and the other two arms are to be manipulated, punished or rewarded to the degree of their compliance. Non-democrats in those other arms too (legislatures and judiciary) understand very well, and make successful careers out of “compliance” by scheming to eventually get to executive positions. Non-democrats would have you know that they can guarantee “freedom of speech, but not freedom after speech”! If you feel it is a man’s world and that every man should be for himself and God should be for us all, you will make a poor democrat indeed.
Unfortunately, because of our long years under feudalism, colonialism and military rule, the majority of Nigerians, young and old, men and women, are non-democrats. They would rather lord it over others and have their ways and ends – woe be unto others! It is when these ordinary undemocratic Nigerians get to leadership of any organization that you now see the trait. Unfortunately too, only democrats can come together and form political parties committed to democracy and make a success of running governments in a democracy. Their political parties will be different only as per strategies and tactics for achieving democratic dividends, conservatively or progressively.
It should be clear what is to be done – a democrats’ get-together within all organisations, institutions, political parties; to rescue the organizations, institutions, democracy and governance, and more importantly, to rescue the nation from clear and present danger of implosion.