Nigeria’s Growing Democracy
Economist: My brilliant citizen, how are you doing today?
Brilliant Citizen: I am doing better than the last time, I took your advice and I am learning new skills to harness opportunities for post COVID 19.
Economist: Wow, that’s good to note. Happy democracy to our country last week.
Brilliant Citizen: Abeg, leave that one! “Who democracy help?”
Economist: How can you say that! How old are you sef?
Brilliant Citizen: Old enough time to know that life can be better. Old enough to know that democracy has worked better for many other countries including other African countries. My dear Economist, take your democracy greeting and be going.
Economist: Ok, don’t be angry again. Let’s look at Nigeria’s democracy…
Once upon a time, Nigeria was held in long years of military rule and for decades it was from one military rule to another with longest civilian rule being 4 years between. Military rule didn’t give the people the choice to pick their ruler. All we did was hear on the radio and news that this was our President (Head of State) and we lived with it.
There was little or no freedom of speech, journalists were arrested for their publications and forgotten behind bars….
Brilliant Citizen: I know all these… please tell me something new!
Economist: Then in 1999, exactly 21 years ago, Nigerian regained democracy and for the complete 21 years, we have elected our government every 4 years…
Brilliant Citizen: You have elected your government ooo. I have not joined in electing anyone
Economist: Wow, so you mean that you have not participated in any electoral process (voting)?
Brilliant Citizen: No, I have not, I have just watched this Nigeria….
Economist:(cuts in) I always thought you are brilliant, I am about to remove that title from you. You can’t be a brilliant citizen and not vote. Yet, you are stating that democracy has not helped us! How will it help us when the people refused to utilise it ?
Brilliant citizen: I have many friends that have voted consistently for years and what has it brought us?
Economist: An opportunity to indicate our choice of leader, an opportunity to remove a leader not working or suitable for us… An opportunity to put the right leaders to serve and hold them accountable
Brilliant Citizen: Mr. Opportunity, where has this led Nigeria?
Economist: Truly, our democracy is not the best relative to other many countries. In 2019, we were ranked 109 out of 167 countries accessed. In comparison with other developed countries like the US & Canada, we have a long way to go. In the last 10 years, we have made some progress, our democracy is still growing. There is still a lot of improvement needed in political participation and political culture where Nigeria ranks scored 3.33 and 3.75 respectively.
Source: The Economist: The Democracy Index 2019*
Brilliant citizen: So why do we congratulate Nigeria for democracy if it is not yielding the results.
Economist: Democracy is like a tree, it needs to keep growing to produce results. If a tree is not growing, do you uproot it? No, you don’t, you water it, prune it and provide fertiliser for it. Other countries have grown their democracy to where it is now, we must do the same!
Brilliant citizen: Who is going to do all of this?
Economist: You and I!
Brilliant citizen: How? What is expected of me?
Economist: Now you are asking the right questions, my dear brilliant citizen. Firstly, you need to vote, before voting do your homework of researching on the candidate’s past works and ability to do the work. After voting and a leader emerges, you have to hold them accountable to their manifesto and promises. Lastly, you must continue to advocate for good leadership and believe it is possible.
Brilliant Citizen: Ok, I commit to doing these and being a part of Nigeria’s democracy. Next time I will vote, chai let me go and look for that voters card..
See you next time my dear Economist!
Special thanks to Wale Olusi, Yunus Ibrahim and Abraham Afariogun for their contribution to this article.
The Economist Democracy Index, 2019 https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=democracyindex2019
The Democracy Index evaluates several indicators like electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.