Citizen Interference In Governance As Due Diligence For Democracy
Democracy just so happens to be this huge disappointment everywhere it’s practiced as a form of government. And that rings true everywhere despite its esteemed (not incontrovertible by any means) status as the best form of government. The reason for this is simple: the root promise of democracy is deemed dimmed by the way those who get into government carry on.
That rose tinted definition of democracy as the government of the people by the people for the people begins to sound somewhat like whitewashed hogwash viewed against the background of the experience of ordinary folks’: the inability to access a government supposedly run by folks no more or less ordinary than themselves. The ones who lead lord it over them, more like. The process seems hijacked by the well-heeled whose reminder to all who would rather not be reminded is about the days of monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, even theocracy and the ‘khakicracy’ of our quite recent history.
Democracy is not a monarchy. Or is it? It’s not a blue blood thing. It’s supposed to be all red bloods and a couple of rednecks thrown in for good measure. But these chaps go in and begin to ‘form’ like they are better than the rest of those who voted them in, an attitude that is far more pronounced in the 3rd World and especially in the 3rd World of the 3rd World where leaders are sworn to their own individual comforts rather than the collective to which they swore an oath to improve.
Also Read: Democracy, Leadership, and the Future of Nigeria – Dr. Sam Amadi
One reason for this we-against-them attitude may not be divorced from the fact that some of them who get into power, yes POWER, didn’t need the electorate to vote them in. They had the process rigged and knew they’d get in, come hell or high water.
It’s therefore a thing most amusing to this group of self-elected individuals when people begin to get all above themselves by making demands on government for accountability and other such strange expectations that they consider beneath their office and persons.
The electorate versus leadership tussle is an ongoing push and pull that’s never going to end for as long as man considers himself the holder of free agency to determine his fate. It’s a basic need of man everywhere to have a say in how his life is run, in how it’s governed. Even under the most repressive governments, he still will make the effort even at the risk of his puny life being squelched by those abhorrent boots that’ve kicked many an insolent life down an early grave. Remember Nazar Mohammed, the Afghan comic who was killed by the Taliban? He knew death was coming, but he’d rather sure death than to be unable to speak his mind under the Taliban.
Man needs must have a say. Russia sees repeated attempts at a more robust democratic participation. Some of that is Western aided to be sure. But Russians are also too sophisticated to not know what they want. Has Putin done well? By my reckoning, largely, yes, and that with particular regards to the Russian economy. But more people want to yet be a bit more involved in the way things are run. In the same vein, Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Chinese, in their thousands, stepped out demanding democracy. They didn’t quite get it. But the expanded participation of citizens in the economy (which now has produced billionaires like Jack Ma and others) is a direct fallout of that stand that ordinary citizens took against the formidable tanks of China. Iterations of that flare out every now and then, but this time in the former British colony of Hong Kong.
It is the unthinking citizen that leaves his life in the hands of a government in which he has no say. That citizen does exist, to be sure, but he is a danger to himself, his nation, humanity and posterity. For, when you scratch a little, despite professed unalloyed allegiance, there’s a swell of discontent he would rather try to keep to himself just so he does not displease the government which doles out the crumbs that keep his feeble spirit above ground; alive enough to at least be considered for conscription into the next pro government rally that supports wholesale everything his threadbare spirit rails against.
Since government can hardly be counted on to hold itself to account – pray what do you expect from a Lai Mohammed or Femi Adeshina with regards to the government that they are part of! it is the duty, not of opposition, (this is a responsibility too big for opposition alone). It is the citizen’s bounden and immutable duty to hold government to account every day. In time past, the press could be counted on to do this job and so help with agenda setting for the simple citizen. But for a long time the Nigerian press, having been induced by well calculated incursions from government and its allies lost their independence, until now it’s become impossible to close their eyes to the malfeasance that’s threatening to swallow us all.
It is self-evident that there’s a lack of capacity to manage the most rudimentary functions of government – provision of security for citizens and the basic necessities that guarantee a modicum of civilized living. So now citizens are up in arms. It’s gotten to the point where ordinary folks from the core North came out to voice their apprehension per the direction of the country. They said unprintable things with regards to the current administration. But that is as it should be. Government needs to hear stuff.
The job of government is to listen. It does not make it a weak government. It just gives those who populate government an idea of the people’s thinking and concerns. Citizens will curse out the American government despite the high standard of living in that country. EU citizens routinely blast the EU for what they think shortcomings of a government they do not exactly consider representative of their demands. Boris Johnson – with his flailing mop – is always in the eye of the storm. Regular folks abuse him and his policies every day.
Nothing aberrant there. That’s how democracy works. Boris is stalwart enough to not abuse right back or have those citizens hauled into jail or worse. Which is unlike when Lai Mohammed’s penchant to spends all his energy demonizing ENDSARS when he cannot provide any answer to the demands of the young Nigerians who suffer the brunt of joblessness, police brutality, hopelessness, and an uncertain future. All he does is to spit on the graves of those he claimed never died.
That is not governance. The power, at the end of the day still resides in the people. And any government worth its salt needs never forget that, because it’s only in remembering that, that democracy, flaws and all, continues to flourish, and leaves no room to those who would rather other kinds of government that are more alienating of the views and noise (and sometimes nonsense) and demands of the greater majority.