How Buhari sees Nigeria’s democracy

President Muhammadu Buhari said, this week, that the future of democracy as a system of government in the country is bright.
As he prepares to leave office in a little over a month, the President has reason to feel satisfied and duly assured that Nigerians would defend democracy against all threats.
The President spoke shortly after observing the Eid prayer, marking the end of the 30-day Ramadan fasting by Muslims.
“Nigerians appreciate the stability of democracy. The outcome of the elections, in which more than ten governors failed to make it to the senate sent a clear message that ordinary Nigerians know the power of their votes and how to use it,” he said. “Nigerians cherish democracy. They have shown their love for it and will defend it against real or perceived threats. They will continue to vote one way or the other depending on their preferences.”
After all, the word ‘democracy’ comes from the Greek word ‘demokratia’, which means ‘rule by the people.’ It’s used to describe a system of government where power is held by the citizens. They can impact important decisions, either directly or through the people they elect.
Democracy can help to make society equal by distributing power. It’s often described as the ‘rule of the majority’, as important decisions are based on the votes of the people.
Winston Churchill once famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Although not perfect, democracy aims to bring the most benefits to the most number of people. These include protecting the interests of citizens. People get the chance to vote on the key issues affecting their country or can elect representatives to make these decisions.
One principle of democracy is that all people are equal in the eyes of the law, and every person gets a vote.
In democracies, elected officials are responsible for carrying out the will of those who elected them. If they misuse their position, they won’t be re-elected.
Yet, there are roadblocks to a strong democracy in Nigeria at all levels of government. Conflict, often triggered by political competition and communal, ethnic, religious or resource allocation rivalries, poses a major threat to democracy. Corruption pervades the daily lives of Nigerians.
Corruption has become a culture in the country such that it now looks strange to condemn it. Many people believe that the country cannot survive without corruption. Some politicians are in office just for the singular aim of stealing.
How does one explain a situation whereby politicians are still amassing wealth they don’t need? Does it make sense to the masses to come out to vote in an election that would throw up a cabal of looters? Democracy, ideally, is supposed to create strong institutions which discourage wastage and profligacy.
But the reverse is the case in Nigeria. How has the nation been spending its resources since 1999? How come an oil-producing nation like Nigeria with four refineries has spent over a trillion Naira to subsidise the importation of fuel while countries not blessed with oil have not spent up to that amount?
A democratic government is expected to deliver services to the masses and abolish poverty, but this cannot be achieved if corruption remains a way of life.
Thus, corruption is a serious threat to democracy in Nigeria. We cannot easily forget the reason for military intervention in Nigeria. During the campaign days, the President said that if we didn’t kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria. This clearly underscores the grave consequence of this malaise on the polity.
The predatory elite in the political scene has an unhealthy urge for primitive accumulation of wealth and this has been responsible for the dilapidated infrastructure, poverty and poor social services.
One of the cardinal objectives of a serious government is to improve the living standard of the citizens. This is achieved when capital projects are executed and social amenities are provided.
In Nigeria, the federal and state governments have not achieved much in addressing the challenges facing the country and its people. The federal government, probably with the exception of the Buhari-led administration, has not shown sufficient interest in the welfare of the common people.
Insecurity is unarguably the greatest threat to the country’s democracy. In the southern part of Nigeria, there is the menace of kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery. Several lives have been lost in the process. In the northern part of the country, there is the problem of a mindless sect, Boko Haram, that has wasted several lives and destroyed property worth billions of Naira.
Of course, several attempts have been made to identify the threats facing the country’s democracy. They include corruption, high cost of governance as a result of prodigious and reckless spending as well as the jumbo salaries of legislators and other public officials, insecurity, poverty and illiteracy, poor justice delivery, partisan security agencies and electoral umpire, and poor supply of power and fuel as well as cross carpeting and impeachment.
All these are capable of endangering the democracy. The first and second republics fell due to corruption, electoral violence and several other factors. So the challenge now is how the next administration after Buhari’s can surmount these problems as soon as possible.

On the suspension of Adamawa REC, Hudu Yunusa Ari

Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, approved the immediate suspension from the office of Hudu Yunusa Ari, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Adamawa State pending the completion of the investigation by the Inspector-General of Police into his conduct and actions during the supplementary election in the state.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Director of Information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Willie Bassey.
The statement said the President directed the immediate investigation and prosecution if found liable, of Hudu Yunusa Ari by the Inspector-General of Police.
The President directed an investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Director-General of the State Security Service and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps of the role of their officers in aiding and abetting the conduct and actions of Hudu Yunusa Ari.
The statement said the President directed that if found culpable, appropriate disciplinary actions should be meted out to them.
What is the offence of Ari? The collation of the election result was suspended for some days after Hudu Yunusa-Ari declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Aisha Dahiru Binani as the winner when the results from the remaining local governments had not been announced. His action put a dent in the reputation of INEC built over the last couple of years under the leadership of Professor Mahmoud Yakubu.
Thankfully, authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission sanctioned the erring officer immediately and called for a thorough investigation by the police.
It is hoped that those saddled with the responsibility of looking into Ari saga will do a thorough job and ensure that those found wanting are punished to serve as a deterrent to others. Nigerians expect nothing less.

UNI Agric Markurdi
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