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The word Democracy originates from two Greek words “demos” meaning people and “kratos” meaning power or rule.
Therefore, Democracy is a system of government whereby the citizens of a particular state, country or nation exercise the power to rule themselves or appoint representatives through the use of periodic free and fair election.
CHARACTERISTICS OF DEMOCRACY
Here are a few highlighted characteristics that must be in observance for a system of government to be called a Democracy:
1. Observance of the rule of law.
2. Sovereignty of the Constitution
3. Periodic elections
4. Observance of Human Rights.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA
Nigeria is a federal republic, in which the President is the Chief Executive. The President is the head of state, the head of government and the head of a multi-party system. Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a Federal, Presidential and Representative Democratic Republic, in which executive power is exercised by the executive arm of government. The Federal government, State and Local governments aim to work cooperatively to govern the country and its people. At the Federal Level, Legislative power is vested in two chambers of the legislature: the House of Representatives (360 members) and the Senate (109 members). Together, the two chambers make up the law-making body in Nigeria called the National Assembly, which serves as a check on the executive and judicial arm of government.
Democracy Day is June 12, a national public holiday in Nigeria. Until 6 June 2018, it was held annually on May 29. Democracy Day marks the day that the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960. It is a tradition that has been held annually, since 2000.
The system of government favoured by Nigerians has always been the democratic system. However, Nigerian democracy is fundamentally undemocratic. The democratic system operated in Nigeria is very Nigerian in its originality because the principal actors have been more interested in manipulating the system than allowing it to work, never mind the fact that it is modelled after that of the United States. It is operated more as a means of capturing power than as a system of government.
HOW ELECTION WORKS IN NIGERIA
Election is a process in which citizens vote to choose a person or group of people to hold an official position.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the commission set up by the constitution to conduct and supervise elections in Nigeria for the office of the President, Vice President, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Governors, Deputy Governors and members of the State House of Assembly.
STAGES OF ELECTION PROCESS IN NIGERIA
There are several stages and activities that are involved when conducting elections in Nigeria. These stages range from pre-election to the result declaration.
This will be briefly discussed below:
Presidential Primaries has been held by all political parties in Nigeria for 2023 General Election.
Some Presidential Nominees are: Peter Gregory Obi (Labour Party -LP),
Atiku Abubakar (People’s Democratic Party – PDP), Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu (All Progressive Congress – APC).
Voting is the most fundamental responsibility that a patriotic citizen of any democratic country can discharge in the interest of his/her family, community and his compatriots.
PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA:
3. ELECTORAL VIOLENCE: Another problem of democracy you should know is Electoral Violence. Electoral Violence includes a number of malpractices that disrupts the election and in most cases leads to death. Electoral violence prevents a free and fair election. In Nigeria, every election is rigged. The question is to what extent or what degree. When an election is rigged to the extent that the eventual winner in a particular constituency bears no relation with the real choice on ground, it is likely to result in riots, protests and even chaos. Elections in Nigeria are hardly different from military coups.
4. HUNGER POLITICS: In the process of manipulating the political process, Nigerians have developed certain protocols that provide the bells and whistles of “Nigerian-style democracy”. However, they are operated within the ambit of the democratic process and in the name of democracy. One of these is referred to as “Amala politics”. Amala is a staple food in certain parts of the Nigerian South-West. The politics to which it lends its name refers to the process whereby public funds are stolen and used to feed the poor in order to build a local constituency of thugs and subalterns that can in turn be used to manipulate the polls and political opponents.
5. STOMACH DEMOCRACY: In Nigeria, democracy has become the choice of one man. Nevertheless, political processes in many states effectively subvert the democratic process, reducing the power of the people to the power of the godfather. A godfather is a person who may or may not be a member of a political party but uses his resources, mainly financial resources to support a person of his choice. The godfather becomes the effective electorate. Godfatherism ensures that whoever is chosen by the godfather is inevitably rigged into office. The godfather system has created a situation where the voters are inclined to relinquish their votes in exchange for “stomach infrastructures” from men of “timber and caliber”. The logic here is that to win an election, all you need to do is to give the people stomach infrastructure (food to eat) instead of physical infrastructures (public works) and you are home-free.
The reality is that the true wishes of the majority in Nigeria often contradict the country’s developmental needs. They begin to express a preference for variants of “amala politics” over that of “action government”. This raises questions that go to the heart of the democratic system for a country like Nigeria.
What happens when the democratic process is inclined to contradict the process of economic growth and development?
What happens if the level of education of the electorate is insufficiently high to enable them to arrive democratically at conclusions that promote the public good?
What happens if the level of development in a country is so low that the poverty of majority can be exploited by charlatans in the name of democracy?
What precisely are the limits of democracy in a country like Nigeria, how do we go about determining and implementing this? Significantly, there is a coming election in Nigeria in barely eight months but there is no policy debate whatsoever in the country. All the government is doing is making June 12 an illegal democracy day and revarnishing its rhetorical hobby-horse of anti-corruption.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA
1. PRAY FOR A BETTER NIGERIA: Prayer changes every single thing. We should all try and pray for our country 🙏🏾.
2. EDUCATION AND PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT: Nigerians should be properly educated on Democracy in Nigeria today.
Raise more awareness on election, voting and how they work.
Register to vote and please ensure you get your PVC 🙏🏾.
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
Vote Vision. Vote Values. Vote Purpose.
Vote for a better Nigeria.
3.CREATION OF STRONG ELECTORAL SECURITY: Many people are actually scared to come out during electoral periods because of the electoral violence that constantly happens. The government can help provide adequate security.
4. The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) should be more transparent, efficient and effective in carrying out their duties.
5. Economic and Financial Crime Commission(EFCC) should carry out proper investigation on Nigerian politicians.
In the final analysis, true democracy is an alien to Nigeria. It is an article of faith in the International community that Democracy is the ideal system of government all over the world.
•Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
•Ruth Aldama – Content Developer at Dailytips tinder.com
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