IF you remove “The People” from Abraham Lincoln’s popular definition of Democracy, what you then get is “Government of ……., by …… and for ……” and everyone is free to fill in the gap with anything but “the people.” Through experience, nothing as good can fill that gap except “the people.” Even with democracy redefined as “majority rule” we will be back to square one. Government of the majority, by the majority and for the majority is simply government of the people.
If you conduct an opinion poll among majority Nigerians today about their estimation of their government, nothing nice will be heard from them. Indeed, the state (armed forces, police, judiciary and correction system) that protects the government will feedback the same uncomplimentary report; at least in so far as the majority of them, the men (and) women are concerned. They have no separate market, fuel stations and banks to go to, for instance. Excusing the unaccountable and brutal military governments, how come that since our growing up years, it is the same gloomy dividend that is the lot of the majority from almost all the democratic governments that are supposedly put in place by “the people”? What do the majority now have to do to change the misfortune and secure their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that is the primary reason why governments are instituted among men?
The very first step for them to take is the one that the majority really are unwilling to take – the difficult but simple task of seeking knowledge. Knowledge that is deep and objective will reveal to them why their realities are the way they are today; what and who are truly responsible for their trials and tribulations; and what are the best ways to go about their redemption legitimately and democratically. The second and final thing is to rise up to the challenge of a change of attitude among majority of citizens that will prime them for the actions needed, then go about it bravely, with all sense of patriotism and readiness for personal sacrifices. Until done, things can only remain the same at best, and worse and worse inevitably.
Without deep, factual knowledge, all their separate and collective actions can only be fuelled by ignorance, sentiments, fear, hatred, anger, selfishness and bigotry, as it is these days. Even the most audacious actions will only produce self-ruinous results that stupidly complicate their sorrow and sufferings.
Individually, to start with, in small numbers, then in large groups that eventually forge alliances for common advocacy and action; they must obtain knowledge of how oppressed, exploited and traumatised people free themselves. Those who seek shall definitely find. The knowledge is available easily to those who seek it. To begin with, we were under colonial bondage just 70 years ago! How did we become an independent country and how did we start out in managing ourselves? What went wrong and how did we get here? Apart from personal experience of our own, many countries have fallen on evil days quite worse than our country and have managed to get out of their horrible mess, into the light of freedom and prosperity. How did they manage it, are there similar things with us in their experience that can come handy in understanding our predicament and how to get out of it?
As the governorship and houses of assembly elections come up March 18th to which it is now postponed, Nigerians should appreciate that the elections, whosoever wins, will not automatically catapult Nigeria into a paradise. That was a mentality we bought hook, line and sinker eight years ago under the mantra of “Change” and the experience of eight years, by now, should have opened our eyes that merely changing personalities within a system of doom will lead nowhere unless the system first changes, there are no messiahs anywhere to make hell into an air-conditioned paradise! That knowledge should calm down all desperadoes who are blind, unfortunate victims of bad politics, as to allow the election go violence-free.
Accordingly, we have a week to rethink, then go out next week Saturday and vote for whosoever pleases us, and allow all others do the same, in the understanding that we simply want the elections to go away peacefully, whatever the outcome, and that our work to fix Nigeria really begins thereafter, not looking up to any government that is installed on the foundation of a definition that does not recognise “the people” in the first place (except as pawns) BUT looking up to ourselves as the people, the majority, to be up and doing for our own salvation. There is no easy ride to freedom. The sooner begun, though, the sooner done.