Democracy literally means, “Rule By People”. Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature.
In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. “Rule of the majority” is sometimes referred to as democracy. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts, in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.
The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests, being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of rules. According to American Political Scientist, Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy. Democracy is however, endangered where the citizens are not vigilant and a few elites hijack the political process and impose their will against the will of the majority of the voting population as is often the case in most African countries. Nothing represents this ugly trend like what played out in the recent primaries of the political parties where there were huge allegations of imposition of candidates against the will of the majority of the party members.
Some cabals (for lack of better word) who felt that their choices are superior to that of the majority of other party members openly aborted the will of the people. There was scant regard to the constitution of the parties and these cabals like the dictators of the old used all kinds of reasons (not known to law or parties’ constitution) to justify their actions. Those who complained are not listened to by the parties’ leaders, which have left many aggrieved with little option than to seek legal redress. Having spent whooping sums of money buying the nomination forms, and mobilizing their supporters ahead of the primaries in which they were rigged out, they are now forced to seek remedies in court, which don’t come cheap.
These clique of dictators are found in the party headquarters where they issue orders that favour their preferred candidates, while others are in various Government Houses, where the state governors determine who gets nominated for elective positions. The governors’ decision on who to support are more often than not based on those willing to do their bidding and never that of the people. Anyone in doubt about the emerging dictatorship in our democracy can take a cursory look at the fallouts of the recent parties’ primaries. The media is awash with protests virtually in all parts of the country.
In Lagos State, the rug was pulled from under the feet of the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode by his Godfather. In other states where the governors are ‘in charge’ they are the ones that pulled the rugs from the feet of aspirants they don’t like their faces. According to media reports, angry APC youths burnt down the Divisional Police Station in Okobo local government area of Akwa Ibom State, while they protested alleged imposition of candidate. In Benue State 10 persons were injured and 20 vehicles damaged in a PDP primary; in Taraba APC members took to the street to vehemently protest the emergence of the party’s governorship candidate. Similarly, members of the All Progressives Congress in Ebonyi State, numbering about 500, reportedly besieged the party’s state secretariat in Abakaliki to reject the outcome of the governorship primary of the party.
The aggrieved APC members alleged that the delegates’ list were manipulated to favour a particular candidate. Last Monday, sets of protesters from Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Jigawa and Enugu states were at the APC party secretariat in Abuja, to register their displeasure over what some of them described as the imposition of candidates as well as other injustices. Thugs loyal to one of the aspirants gunning for the Ethiope East House of Assembly seat in Delta State set ablaze a police Hilux van and disrupted the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, House of Assembly primary in the area.
Some aspirants of the House of Representatives seeking to contest on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra carried out a protest in Awka, Anambra State to condemn the primaries in some constituencies in the state and described the exercise as a ‘charade and rape of democratic principle’. The aspirants reportedly said that they did not know whom the delegates were as the list of those who emerged from the ward congresses was not displayed for all to see as provided by party guidelines. Because of alleged imposition it is uncertain who the APGA governorship candidate is in Imo State days after the closure of the window for parties to hold their primaries under Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines. In the same Imo State, APC is in crisis following Governor Rochas Okorocha’s imposition of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the candidate of the party, even as Senator Hope Uzodinma is also claiming the ticket.
There was reported disquiet in the Kano State chapter of the PDP following alleged anointment of Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, a son in-law of former Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2019 general elections. The list is endless and we have to stop here for want of space. The aforementioned are but few examples to show how impunity, which is actually dictatorship, is hampering the growth of democracy in the country. The dictators and their cheerleaders are indeed major threat to our democracy. We can never make progress when a few individuals subvert the will of the people with impunity. It is time for us to take back our country from these dictators masquerading as democrats!