FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSunday, October 7, 2012
eoeke@aol.com


ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE
TO YOUR FRIENDS

NIGERIA, A DEMOCRACY WITHOUT SUBSTANCE (1)


advertisement

ne of the most serious problems every country faces is stopping criminals successfully counterfeiting its currency. This is why every country tries to imbue its currency with a special feature which would be impossible to forge. Therefore, the ability to detect counterfeit is a very valuable skill. The same can be said of systems of government. It is not all governments which claim to be democratic that are truly democratic. Many governments claim to be democratic but retain undemocratic features and exercise power in undemocratic and often, in outright autocratic manners, which is why the ability to identify a true democracy and when a government is abusing its powers and trust, are essential for political stability and democratic evolution of any country.

Every democracy tries to imbue itself with some special feature that makes it unique. Some democracies are just a dilution of monarchy, while others are an amalgam of military dictatorship and civilian elites. Yet many are genuine attempt to create a government of the people by the people and for the people, a government under the rule of law where individual freedom and equality of all are protected. Not a few countries run systems which cannot truly be described as truly democratic. It would therefore seem that every people inject the degree of peoplesí participation that would guarantee its security, peace and development; while pursuing justice as fairness, equality and tolerance for all. Viewed in this light, Nigeriaís current democratic evolution cannot be said to be evolving in the right direction. It has all the ingredient of democracy but the evidence so far, does not seem to confirm that it is a genuine democracy. From the way and manner its political parties and Government agencies operate, to the way its judiciary administers justice and interprets the law; what stands clear is that most institutions in Nigeria present form of what they are supposed to be, but lack the substance.

Recently, Farbrence Muamba, a Congolese born British citizen who plays for Bolton Wonderers Football Club had a heart attack while playing for his club. He was offered the best emergency medical care in the world and his life was saved. Watching the scene unfolding reminded me of the fate of Sam Okwaraji who had exactly the same problem at Surulere national stadium Lagos while playing for Nigeria some years ago but died. I could not resist the conclusion that Muamba lives today because he lives in a country where the government is true to its democratic ideals and principles and things are actually what they seem. It is highly probable that were Muamba a Nigerian living in Nigeria, or playing in Nigeria for Nigeria; that he would have died. The Nigerian Ambulance and crew at the stadium might not have had all the equipment or would not have come with them because they would not have thought that there would have been an emergence. If they had an oxygen cylinder, it is most probable that there would have been no oxygen in it for the usual reasons why nothing seems to be the way it should be in Nigeria. Even if they had the equipment, they might not have practiced and prepared for such emergency. They might have brought the Ambulance to the stadium to give the impression that there is an Ambulance knowing very well that they would not be able to respond to real emergencies. . Every day I live in England reminds me of everything Nigeria could be, if only we can get our leadership right. It is wonderful to see what human beings can achieve when they embrace honesty, justice as fairness and the rule of law without the sanctimonious, hypocritical and delusional religious faith we have in African countries like Nigeria.

Few weeks ago, the London Times reported that the chairman of the conservative party boasted that donation of a certain amount of money to the conservative party could earn the donor influence in government. The response to this has been swift and decisive. The chairman has resigned and the government will take steps to ensure that such corrupt practices would be stamped out. Few days ago, the chief constable of Cleveland police was dismissed from his post because he influenced the employment of a friendís daughter in the police constabulary. Contrast this with Nigeria where the head of the securities and Exchange Commission SEC, is locked in war of words with the house selective committee chairman over allegation and counter allegation of corruption, the allegation that the Chairman of the House of representative committee investigating fuel subsidy collected bribe from Odetola to influence his committee Report, the allegation that the president is involved in a corruption deal with Shell and Dan Etete, the allegation that the newly appointed senior presidential Adviser on media, Chief Okupe is a swindler who conned Benue and Imo States of millions through bogus contracts by his company, and the use of government fund by the ruling party PDP to fund its political activities; and the difference between Nigeria and developed countries will become obvious.

In a true democracy, chief Okupe will not last twenty-hours in his position, the House of Representatives will be purging itself of criminal elements and the President will be struggling to keep his job and reputation, and there will be an honest attempt to address the issues with the view to ensure that they do not happen again. It is really sad that Nigerian journalists have no interest in scrutinising the way the ruling political party is abusing its position by using government fund and facilities to pursue political party objectives. They do not seem to have the courage to take positive interest in investigative journalism by following up many of the corruption cases in Nigeria. Our press seems to be yet another from in our democracy.

It is now well known that Nigerianís main problems include institutionalised corruption and impunity which have incapacitated the police from investigating crimes and bringing law breakers to justice. It also prevents people from enforcing their rights and standing up for what is right. It would seem that the Nigerian citizens have been cowed and have accepted aberration as normal. For instance, while police in developed countries attract people who want to stop crimes and bring criminals to justice, in Nigeria, the police seem to attract people who want to use their position to corruptly enrich themselves and not interested in solving crimes. They do not seem to take pride in putting criminals behind bars as they are more useful to them plying their vocation. The police are repeatedly giving excuses why they are unable to do the minimum expected of any police force. They offer ridiculous excuses why police officers aid and abate the escape of suspects and subvert of the rule of law. The police would seem to see criminals as source of income and work to help them to escape justice for large sums of money. As the days go by, it is becoming very clear that Nigeriaís problem is a moral problem. It is a problem that has to do with the moral development of the people, the way the people and leaders think, justify what is right and acceptable and the leaders understanding of justice as fairness, rule of law, honesty, integrity, due and democratic process, exercise of power and how a society should be organised and administered.

Let us take education for instance. Every society decided how its young people should be educated and constantly reviews its policies to ensure that no one is denied access to education and ensure that the objectives are being achieved. Even in the developed countries, their education policies are not perfect, as what tends to emerge is a two tier education system based on socioeconomic class. Looking back, I can see that Nigeria had the best education policy in the world before Babangida came to mess up everything in the country and took the country back 200 years. We had an education system that educated both the rich and poor and offered the poor a way out of poverty. Even though the rich tended to educate their children in luxury, the education available to the poor enabled them to compete and work themselves out of poverty. It enabled the cream of all classes, rich and poor; to rise to the top. It was an education system that educated people based on ability instead of economic status. It was the education policy that enabled people like the current president and I, to obtain good quality education.

Jonathan often talks about his experience of being raised in poverty but fails to say whether if Nigeria was operating his current education policy, if he would have been able to attend university of Port Harcourt. I wonder if he was required to pay school fee of Two Hundred and fifty thousand Naira a year, whether his parents would have afforded it. The sad irony and unfortunate thing in Nigeria is that, those who benefited from one of the best system of equal opportunity see its destruction as progress and the implementation of polices that would not have given them a chance in life as the right one for the country. They do this because they have stolen so much money that they believe they can always buy the best education for their children, and relatives. This ossification of selfishness and self-centeredness as acceptable features of free market is the problem. Nigeria needs an education policy that can ensure that the Jonathans of today and tomorrow can attend University of Port Harcourt and obtain PHDs without their parentsí inability to pay being a hindrance.

In countries where leaders have moral compass, are enlightened, have conscience and think of making their countries better than they met it; somebody like president Jonathan would be pursuing policies informed by his lifeís experiences so that other children with similar circumstance to his would not suffer what he suffered as a child. This is what has made the developed countries great. Instead, Jonathan is simply pursuing policies dictated by, his greed, ethnic and religious prejudices, PDP godfather, Kaduna Mafia, IMF and World Bank; organisations that work in the best interest of money lenders. He is pursuing policies that bring out the worst face of capitalism which no country in the west will touch under any circumstance. This is what is breaking by heart. No parent in America or Britain for instance, is required to pay school fees for their children in the way and manner Jonathan expects the Nigerian parents. In developed countries, the government designs policies that enable the state assist in the payment of school fees. The way education and health is financed is a settled matter. Until very recently, no one in Britain paid university fees. Even now, the government offers all university students loans to pay their school fees. This is one of the reasons why corruption is endemic in Nigeria. Many parents are expected to achieve what is impossible to achieve with their legitimate income. In developed countries, policies are made with what people would be able to achieve with their legitimate incomes in mind. This is why it is immoral for someone like Goodluck Jonathan to be pursuing and education policies where only those who can pay are able to obtain good education for their children. How does a parent on 18,000 Naira a month find 250.000 school fees for his child? To be continued.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

advertisement
IMAGES IN THE NEWS