Illusions of democracy and freedom in Nigeria, By Olajide Oladipupo


Nigerians awake! The day is upon us to realise that democracy is a work in progress and never an end in itself. With crushing poverty in town now, with the National Assembly’s recklessness, joblessness, sectarian violence and menace of insecurity everywhere, we need to come to our senses in order to redefine democracy.

No wonder, the legendary music maestro Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang long ago that democracy without fortifying the people is merely “demonstration of craze”.

Have we really attained democracy? The definition of democracy as the “government of the people by the people and for the people” was first conceptualized by in 422 B.C. by Cleon, a Greek philosopher. The Americans quickly claimed the glory for Abraham Lincoln and perverted it to mean ‘one man, one vote’.

In a society like ours, the concept of ‘one man, one vote’ cannot translate into democracy since he who controls the stomach also controls the thumb with which people will vote. So, even in the freest elections, the thieves could still sit on the throne as they could simply buy up the votes of the hungry and disoriented masses.

We should get things right this time around. A democracy which prioritizes politicking over the question of how common man will survive is worse than Hiter’s Third Reich. Only a system which satisfies the basic needs of the people can be said to be democratic. Don’t get me wrong; I do not contradict electioneering, but there are things done before the other. When trees fall upon trees, says our elders, the topmost ones should first be removed. What Nigeria needs most now is economic stability, anti-corruption credo, job creation, workable refineries, food security, technological advancement and quality health and educational systems. Until the system legislates the welfare of the masses, the idea of democracy is but chaff in the wind.

The solution to our problems now is how to get back to our roots to rediscover our extinct democratic tenets which enabled our forefathers to sustain the technological civilization of Nok, Ife, Ugbo Ukwu and Benin cultures. The secret is the sustainability of welfare of the citizenry. So, what worries our political scientists and economists is not learning but how to unlearn in the contemporary global politics.

Then, the panacea is to recover our African originality which prescribes sustenance of the citizenry as the foremost prerequisite for the extended family system or any democracy at all. The present constitution of Nigeria is a gargantuan fraud which needs to be pulled down for the one that supports the masses’ welfare.

Now, the decision lies with the people: the great masses of Nigeria. Walt Kelly said “We have met the enemy and they are us” Until we take our destiny into our hands, raise our consciousness and chase away corrupt politicians; our bread and butter can never be secured. Hence, the progressives must stand together to enforce we all get the dividends of democracy.

Jan Olajide Oladipupo, the Secretary General of the Movement for People Ideology is the Media Assistant to the Chairman of Okitipupa Local Government of Ondo state.

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