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STRIKER: Where Are The People?

  DEMOCRACY has been more specifically defined as “majority rule.” However, its most popular definition, availed by Abraham Lincoln, remains “government of the people by the people and for the people.” Emphatically mentioned thrice in that definition, “the people,” or “the majority,” remain centrally critical to democratic ideals and practise. It is the goal of…”
Yusuf
August 27, 2022 7:45 am

 

DEMOCRACY has been more specifically defined as “majority rule.” However, its most popular definition, availed by Abraham Lincoln, remains “government of the people by the people and for the people.” Emphatically mentioned thrice in that definition, “the people,” or “the majority,” remain centrally critical to democratic ideals and practise. It is the goal of democracy that the wishes of the majority will prevail and that for such to be the case, the majority of the people will be instrumental.

All democratic governments are founded on the above principles and the Constitutions that guarantee the rule of law start out unequivocally in their opening statements with “We, the people…,” not only to demonstrate basic consensus but to further reiterate the place of “the people” in the operations of democracy.

However, democracy and good governance that it supposes to deliver do not become automatic reality simply upon proclamation. They are desires and goals that must be achieved by no other party in the deal than “the people,” “the majority.” Herein lays the duty and responsibility of citizens of any nation, ahead of the guarantee of their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The tendency in most democracies in so called underdeveloped countries is to blame the visible operators of the democracies, the government and the political elite without a deeper look at the major stakeholder – the ultimate beneficiary or victim, as the case may be – the people. The maxim – every people get the kind of government they deserve – simply highlight the ultimate responsibility of the people in a democracy. Their actions, inactions and general dispositions to governance are the key indicators of how the ruling elite relate with them, either by taking the people seriously or taking them for granted after the people have periodically surrendered their sovereignty in elections to public officers.

Periodic changes in personalities in government amongst those paraded by the political parties, good for democracy as it is, guarantee little or no changes to the system of governance and dividends delivery unless “the people” ensure that those promises of changes for the better are delivered. They must demand accountability and delivery on promises and oaths taking by executives, legislature and the judiciary, including heads of all agencies of government. When undelivered, they must ensure there are consequences, just as they need to applaud when delivered.

When serious issues that legitimise and compound criminality and corruption (and consequent decay and underdevelopment of society) are trivialised into comic relieves and the culprits go away unpunished, the ruling elite are only emboldened to continue in their reckless, destabilising and impoverishing policy choices and carefree responses to devastating results.

In preceding weeks, there was the report that The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund told no other body than the Senate that termites had eating away the vouchers of how they spent N17.1bn public fund! Many similar reports of such – snakes and monkeys swallowing millions of naira of public funds, and so on – have become commonplace in public governance in Nigeria: bizarre, exasperating stories that should normally trigger massive outrage and indignations, leading to peaceful protests and civil disobedience in the very least. What are Nigerian commonplace responses? Trivialisation into comic relieves or passive agonising, wailings and criticism at best.

Of course, individual citizens have limited powers of impactful protest. However, the people, the majority (women, children, and youths) exist in numerous societies, organisations and associations (trade and professions, students, cultural, social, community, etc). Members of these organisations must hold leadership of the mass groups accountable to relating with social and national realities critically and actively by all means necessary to right almost every wrong and achieve the promise of democratic dividends. Until “the majority” swing into organised actions on this basis rather than agonising, the only prospect will be increasing misery and misfortune amongst the majority since there is much to profit from bad governance and people’s misery and tribulations by the anti-democratic and mean minority that have taken charge of the democratic process.

 

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