On June 12, Nigeria celebrates another Democracy Day. However, threats to the nation’s nascent democracy remains partly constant.
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Situations such as voter apathy, poor delivery of justice, non-transparent institutional structures, high cost of governance/inflated contracts, jumbo take-homes for a public servant, nepotism and cronyism, violence and insecurity, and others all affect the viability of democracy in Nigeria.
Again, as these threats to democracy are largely interwoven, it has been more difficult for a more divided citizenry to surmount them and move the nation forward.
While examining these threats to Nigeria’s democracy, a cursory look at their immediate causes and recommendations on how to reverse the threats to democracy are highlighted below:
There has never been a time that voter turnout at elections surpassed 50% in general elections. That voters feel that their votes do not count have only helped the prospect and possibility of rigging the polls to favour less popular candidates.
Also, poor justice delivery is affecting the effectiveness of the work law enforcement does. Frustrated citizens are more disposed to taking laws into their hands because of a corrupted judiciary and a police force that is yet to enforce the law by apprehending criminals in a timely fashion.
Non-transparent institutional infrastructure has equally encouraged corruption in government bureaucracy. The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was passed into law to encourage the public to easily look into the affairs of government. However, in a state like Lagos and other states of the federation, where the effectiveness of the law has been severely resisted, transparency is alien to that type of governance. The people will more readily lose faith in systems that are not transparent enough.
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A feature of non-transparent institutional processes in our democracy is one where contracts and procurement systems are given to the highest bidder. The integrity of government institutions was so lacking that President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration had to create a Due Process Office managed by Dr Oby Ezekwesili to oversee procurement and contracts.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) was also formed to monitor privatisation efforts by the government. Such institutions encouraging transparency no longer exist. And the negative effect is that the cost of governance remains too high.
Moreover, jumbo pay for public servants has become another source of attraction for career politicians in Nigeria. Politicians who have nothing to offer for the betterment of the polity have been observed to climb all the way up just to enrich their pockets and benefit from the largesse of office. If a political office were less financially rewarding, only serious candidates,who have initiatives to develop human capacity and society at large will get into government. Consequently, jumbo pay is also one of the factors contributing to the high cost of governance – one of the threats to our nascent democracy.
Likewise, in a system where cronyism and nepotism are rife, getting the best minds and leaders into democratic institutions becomes a challenge. Merit remains a veritable tool for measuring those who are suitable for leadership and headship. A nation can hardly progress where promotion is by “man-know-man” and kinsmanship is set for ruin.
Eventually, where all of these institutions fail to move the nation forward, a collapse in law and order, probably beginning of insecurity for everyone concerned is inevitable. As evident in our current national reality, violence is already becoming commonplace and some leaders are only worsening matters with their glaring favouritism and ethnic politics.
The recommendation goes thus: for the nation to be great and for a lasting peace and unity in our lands, all hands must be on deck to reverse the conditions putting a strain on the polity and threatening our democracy.
Featured Image Source: Leadership News
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