EDO ELECTION AND ORGANIC DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA
The just concluded Governorship election in Edo State, which held on September 19, 2020, marked another watershed in Nigeria’s march today institutionalizing democracy. This is so because prior to the election, the forces that have always scuttled smooth election in Nigeria were once again at play. The forces of God-fatherism and money politics were at their wits end. Thankfully, the will of he people prevailed and Mr Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party – PDP, won his closest rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress – APC.
The matter to use here is not whether Mr. Obaseki was a better candidate than Pastor Ize-Iyamu or not. Our interest is in the process, the resilience of the people, and their determination the decide who truly lead them. As classical definition often say, democracy is the the government of the people, by the people and for the people. But democracy is actually more than that and we must begin to take the game higher up. Democracy is a culture premised on values. It is a way of thinking and governing that ought to be learned and live out. It is a system that ought to begin from the home to the school, workplace, and then to public domain of government. The hallmark of civil democracy is citizens’ participation in taking decisions on issues that affect their lives, their future and wellbeing. This is the challenge before Nigeria’s democratic evolution.
Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa. And by reason of Nigeria’s strategic significance in global politics, many people believe, and strongly so, that the imperative for sustainable democratic governance in Africa depends on what happens, and continues to happen, in Nigeria. If this belief is anything to be taken seriously, it is important Nigeria’s politicians gear up to provide this needed leadership by thinking, talking and acting like they are visionary, and live up expectations on them.
As the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections, we must move away from describing our democracy as ‘fledgling’. Instead, we must demonstrate maturity by deliberately strengthening institutions that sustain democracy. Of course, institutions don’t build themselves, they are built by people, and people must be informed enough to know what to do and how to it. This again brings the fore the need to raise awareness on the educational process of democracy. This process involves deliberate effort to promote learning of democratic principles, even from the grass roots. It involves opening opportunities for citizens’ participation; encouraging values of dialogue, negotiation, tolerance of contrasting views and opinion, making compromises, and allowing public interest override private interests.
This educational process of democracy is also about learning to criticize without sounding destructive. In a democracy, citizens have the right to speak their minds, particularly to criticize public policy while providing credible alternatives. But it is important citizens realize they must be responsible about what they say and how they say it, not for fear of sensorship, but as a mark of responsibility. People must learn to speak out on matters that concern them with due sensible of decorum; focusing on issues and not attacking personalities.
This process also involves taking deliberate steps to train people on the tenets and practical import of democracy. We must educate our children at home on these core values. We must take the message into our school system. Secondary school prefects and students union leaders have to be trained in democratic values. I believe when we adopt this holistic approach for the promotion of democracy values, it shows we are committed to its sustainability.
We applaud the role of the Security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC, as well as Civil Society organizations, for standing together to protect the people of Edo as they performed their civic duty of electing their leader. We must take the lessons learned from Edo election and amplify them for the sustenance of our democracy in the years ahead.
Future World Editorial