Democracy and Good Governance, A look at Nigeria

Democracy and Good Governance, A look at Nigeria

Lagos : Nigeria | Jan 20, 2009 at 7:38 AM PST
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Democracy is defined as government of the people, by the people, for the people. This means the person who sits at the helm in any organisation or establishment is taken from among the people as the choice of the people, in order to represent them and to protect their interests. When a person is chosen to lead, it portends that the people have confidence in this person and have entrusted him/her with their lives, invariably believing that an erstwhile bad situation will change for the better.

Over the centuries, the tyrannical rule of villages, cities, states and empires was held together by the power of individual rulers through political, legal, religious, economic and military force. In those times, the few people who were actually content with their lives were either the rulers themselves, or close allies enjoying their ruler's favour, rugged individuals who isolated themselves from "civilization," or the fortunate few who lived in the rare kingdom ruled by a benevolent dictator.

Virtually every country in the world today has since come to the understanding that a democratic government is best – especially in a civilized 21st century. Military regimes have been regarded as autocratic and disrespecting human rights, since the process of getting into power in and of itself negates the principles and tenets of democracy. There has been an awakening to the fact that every individual in society deserves to be accorded their full human rights, not minding their financial status, religion, cultural background or position in the society.

Nigeria as a nation has come of age, having had its own share of military, autocratic and dictatorial governments which have, rather than enhance development in the country, contributed to the harsh economic situation that bedevils the nation today. It can be concluded that there is no true democracy in the land, as the process of getting men into power is overtly a farce or a fallacy. The process is marred by corruption and, therefore, does not represent the true intentions of an already impoverished nation.

Among Nigeria’s population of over one hundred and forty million, only a small percent of the populace can really say they have enjoyed the dividends of democracy. Most of the people who have been chosen to serve the interests of the people have ended up serving just the interests of themselves and their families.

One fact that is really heart rending is that the power whirls around in circles. The same people who used to be at the helm of affairs are still the ones in power – where they are too old to hold power, they simply transfer it to their children, family, or whoever they desire, and whom they think will serve their interests best.

The principle of “Godfather-ism” has become fashionable and, like the saying, “he who plays the pipe, dictates the tune," the “sponsored” leaders are at the mercy of their godfathers and have to dance to their tune, answering to their whims and caprices. Consequently, they cannot carry out any venture that will benefit subjects unless approved by the ‘godfathers,’ even when they have good intentions to do so.

It is rather saddening that corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation, and it may not be an overstatement to say that even the youth, who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow, have been brought up to consider corruption as a normal, fashionable practice for survival.

The educational institutions, the bedrock of any society and the major instrument for grooming responsible leaders that will serve the interests of its people and bring sustainable development, have been reduced to mere buildings that must be passed through and endured if one wants to secure a white collar job, or just stay in an otherwise harsh situation where only the fittest survive. Emphasis is now on the certificates obtained rather than the quality of graduates the institutions breed, and youths have to go to great lengths to acquire certificates even if the process of acquiring them is dishonest because their lives, so to speak, depend on these certificates.

Because of everything stated above, there is great need to salvage the situation and this has to start from the roots. The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and the foundation they have today will go a long way in fashioning tomorrow. They must be properly equipped to face the challenges of today and the future. They must take cognizance of where our leaders have gone wrong so as not to make the same mistakes. They must also begin to look inwards and see what they can do for the nation, instead of looking for what the nation can do for them. Emphasis should be placed on ability rather than affluence and other ephemeral factors that will not benefit or enhance the growth of the nation.

I wish to see a world where youth are given a voice and all necessary modalities to develop themselves and society, to build a society where the future of the youth is guaranteed through active participation in governance; a society where youth can express themselves in words and find the potentials embedded in them.

Good governance begins with being responsible and focusing on the goal to contribute selflessly to society and taking the necessary step to realizing these goals. A good leader seeks to give rather than be given. He/she thinks more about the people and how he/she can make a positive impact on them. He/she seeks to put a smile on the face of his subject rather than cause them pain, bearing in mind that he/she will be remembered for whatever good legacy he/she leaves behind.

titienvogue is based in Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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