04 September 2010

Article: Enemies of democracy (in Nigeria)

Adamu Adamu, a columnist writing for various Nigerian newspapers, is the author of an article titled "Enemies of democracy" that was published in two parts on 26 July and 2 August 2010 in the "Peoples Daily".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge online:

Part I:

Part II:

Excerpts: "If, as they always say, democracy is rule of the people, by the people and for the people, what exactly will they call what has been happening in Nigeria? If they will be honest with themselves, they ought to admit that democracy here is simply a kleptocratic autocracy in which so-called elections are also held. [...] It shouldn't be surprising if those who don't believe in the essential equality of human beings hate the very idea of democracy. Nor will it be unexpected if those opposed to the principle of the rule of law become an obstacle to the instituting of democratic culture. [...] But democracy's most determined enemies are not, as you may suppose, kings and queens or Emirs and Chiefs, though they are by no means its friends; its most dangerous enemies are those who eagerly join its train, loudly espouse its name, greedily enjoy its dividends and then unwittingly – or all too wittingly – dig its grave. Thus, democracy in Nigeria will certainly not fail because of those who openly come out to oppose it; but it may disappear on account of those who hide and subvert its very essence from within.

"It is indeed the special misfortune of democracy in Nigeria that it has three powerful, determined, and well-placed enemies – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. In other places, these are the three pillars upon which democratic rule is founded; but here these are the three weapons with which its very foundation is plundered. Instead of checking and balancing each other, they checkmate the system and outdo each other only in the race to help themselves to the spoils. [...] And as it is locally, so is it globally: at home, they swear by democracy even as they empty the national treasury without asking themselves whether democracy is compatible with thievery; abroad, they raise the cry of democracy even as they go about conquering the world, without asking themselves whether imperialism is compatible with democracy. In the name of democracy, the world's most formidable military machine is currently on the rampage in the Middle East, as it will soon be in certain areas of Africa with resources worth stealing.

"The function of the Legislature is to make laws for the good governance of the nation, while its other role in governance is to serve as a check on the exercise of the powers of the Executive. But we all know that the laws for the good governance of this nation are yet to be passed just as the exercise of executive power is yet to be checked. Instead of making laws, the majority of lawmakers spend their time out of the law-making chambers busy running around cornering contracts in ministries and departments, or playing Public Service Commission as they corner all appointments into all parastatal boards and government agencies for their candidates. But making laws is actually no bother at all. All you have to do is go to the internet and copy bills from other jurisdictions; or in fact you can have the entire dog work done for you by interested non-governmental organisations, or have it sponsored – hook, line, sinker and fish-knife – by foreign embassies.

"The only bills for which legislators show enthusiasm are the ones detailing their salaries and allowances [....] [W]hat the country should have are not these business-as-usual routine pseudo-democrats who only exploit democracy to create exclusive heavens for themselves even as the society sinks into further political and economic decline and deeper cultural decadence [...]. But with economic policy dictated by international financial institutions, diplomatic policy conducted out of fear of superpowers, [...] [p]erhaps impunity has really come to stay [...]: both the ruling party and the opposition parties are at heart undemocratic and can even be anti-democratic in equal measure [...]. When leaders or parties can't be voted out, the nation is saddled with politicians who will not cooperate to grow democracy in the country but can get together to fleece it for their own benefit. [...] Democratic victory was not obtained at the ballot box in all the past three elections; it was sold to the highest bidder. [...] And that is why there is no democracy in Nigeria today: too many enemies and no friend."

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