The idea of democracy being the best system of government is becoming more of rhetoric than a reality. Cognizant of the fact that there is no system of government that is perfect, nonetheless, any system that does not provide dividends that are capable of making life comfortable and meaningful to the citizenry is far from being suitable, let alone being perfect. We are seeing many countries of the world who are identified as democracies, whereas what goes on within in terms of how the citizens are governed does not in anyway represent or capture the essence of the social contract arrangement. There is no doubt that democracy is the most acceptable system of government, especially by the western world. However, there are visible and obvious hitches and contradictions which make countries that are non-democratic enviable by the countries that are truly democratic.
How does one explain the recent coups that took place in some African countries in the recent past? One of the answers could be as a result of the lack of flow of the dividend of democracy to the people, an action that was to be blamed on those leaders who pretend to be democratic whereas in practice, they are worse than autocrats.
Apart from democracy being the system of government that caters for the need of the citizenry, are there other personal or selfish gains that the western world and the proponents of democracy stand to gain? America is doing everything possible to assist countries that are truly democracies by meeting some of their material and financial needs. However, this area of focus, in spite of its importance, should not have been prioritized beyond the protection of the lives and property of the citizens. Rather, America should have focused on providing what the citizens in democracies need most, which is empowerment, in terms of how to choose credible leaders, who would rule in accordance with the rules of democracy with the guarantee of the dividends of democracy reaching the people who live in the remotest part of those countries. The United States of America has just granted Nigeria a line of credit worth 1 billion dollars for the purchase of arms and ammunitions as well as the training of personnel, and with a view to helping Nigeria in combating all insurgencies and terrorist acts. This is a nice gesture, but fired in the wrong direction and at the wrong time. Nigeria as of today is volatile and more fragile than it has ever been since the country gained its independence in 1960. Banditry and terrorism are common experiences for Nigerians. No one is secure and no place is secure, and to this end, everyone lives in fear. This situation has affected the economy of the country drastically because economic activities can only thrive in a peaceful environment.
The 2023 election in Nigeria is to everyone like a mirage because structures that are capable of ushering in the credible, smooth and free elections are not on ground. One of such structures is that of the security architecture, which is in a deplorable state and condition. It is important at this juncture that the American government, who is the champion at democracy worldwide, and a leader in the counterterrorism war, ask the Nigerian government directly and boldly what they have done with the names of the sponsors of terrorism provided by the United Arab Emirates, as well as those that the Nigerian government itself said it had, which brings all
to a total number of 1000+. If these issues cannot be resolved by acts of interrogation and investigation, permit me to say that the American government is in-deliberately or knowingly handing over the weapons of counterterrorism to terrorists themselves.
Wisdom will tell you to, first of all, deal with both the sponsors and the terrorists that are within, before going after those that are without. Whereas common sense will tell you to go after the terrorists that are without, and allowing the sponsors and the terrorists within to sabotage your efforts by providing credible intelligence to the terrorists without. Don’t forget that common sense only gives common results, and this accounts for why the country Nigeria is where it is today with no hope in sight for its continuity after 2023.
What needs to be done to move the benefits of democracy from being dreams that are not realizable to those that are tangible, concrete, and applicable for the benefit of the citizens will be to create an organization which will be saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the performance of those countries who claim to be in democracy. Call this organization the Democracy Watch or whatever name you want to. What is important is there has to be a checklist by which all countries who claim to be in democracy will be judged as a condition for which foreign aids and grants will be made to accrue to them.
African countries do not want democracy just because of its name or because it is a system of government that works in America. What they want is the workings of democracy, that is, democracy in action. Democracy should cease from being a laughing stock, for according to an African adage if someone is promising you a new coat, wisdom demands that you first of all look at the one that he himself is wearing, for what you don’t have, you cannot give. There is no point following blindly. The eyes are not designed only for looking. They are also, more importantly, designed for seeing. Africans do not have to go blind to see. Not oblivious of the fact that heaven can only help those that help themselves, and the African countries can not depend on the western countries and America to do everything for them. Nevertheless, anything that is worth doing at all is worth doing well. It is either democracy or not.
Nigerians are eagerly looking forward to seeing the United States of America act as the country is preparing to transition from one government to another, but amidst serious ethnic agitations for self determination. We don’t need weapons. We need wisdom. For what power gets, only wisdom can preserve. We do not pray and hope that the weapons of the United States of America is promising Nigeria will be used against Nigerians and not against the terrorists. Nigeria is volatile and at the verge of disintegration. Does the country have a friend in the world? A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Finally, water does not flow upstream but downstream. Any democracy whose flow of dividend is not going downstream to the downtrodden and the vulnerable is worse than the worst autocracy.
Samuel ‘Tunji Adeyanju