ATTAHIRU JEGA ON DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA

by Nwachukwu Egbunike

Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria; Professor Attahiru Jega (OFR);
2007; Spectrum Books; N900 only

Attahiru Jega (OFR) is no neophyte in Nigeria’s political milieu. Most people know this erudite Professor of Political Science at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK) from his principled stance as the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) between 1988 and 1994. However, Jega who is currently the Vice Chancellor of BUK is one of the few “unrepentant optimist” that fought and believed that Nigeria will one day be freed from the shackles of the military; and that democracy will not only prevail but will become a way of life.

Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria is a collection of critical essays; a fruit of the author’s intellectual odyssey in Nigeria’s murky democratic waters. The theme of this book is better expressed using the words of the author, as “a selection of my interventions in debates, seminars and conferences over the last decade…. These have been the dominant themes in intellectual discourse by social scientists on the trials and tribulations of the post-colonial Nigerian state as it grappled with crises of nationalism and nationhood, authoritarian military rule and the challenges of development using a hybrid of a neo-liberal theoretical framework in an intensely unequal world.”

The book is presented in eighteen lucidly written chapters. Issues covered range from a general survey of the evolution of the concept and institutions of democracy, to an assessment of the impact, consequences and legacies of prolonged military, to sustainable strategies for popular empowerment and good governance in Nigeria. They also include: ethno-religious conflicts; ‘resource control’ and its implications for national development; role of civil society organisations in sustainability of democratisation; the role of community-based organisations in poverty eradication and sustainable development; public policy and democratisation; and students and the challenges of democratisation.

The first chapter forms the core of the author’s explanation of the concept of democracy. While he takes readers down memory lane by describing the Historical Context: Classical Origins and Foundations of Democracy, (pages 2-7) one discovers the impact of the Greek civilisation on human thought especially in the area of politics and particularly democracy. I also concur with Prof Jega’s redefinition of democracy. In page 11, he stated that: “all notions of democracy being rule of the people by the people for the people, seems very ambiguous and only relative, if not metaphorical.” With our experiences in the last (s)election that were monumentally flawed despite INEC insistence that we believe otherwise. As seen by the many courts rulings that have sacked or declared a re-election for offices that were hitherto claimed by their occupants to have been elected by the people. The author went ahead to redefine “…western liberal democracy as, at best, a system of elected representation in which the representatives are supposed to be responsible and accountable to the people who elected them to represent them. That is elected representatives, delegates, with mandates, whose mandates can be given or withdrawn during elections; representatives or delegates, so mandated, chosen through periodic election, which are supposed to be free and fair; and elections based on affiliations of political parties on whose platform candidates canvass for support for election into public office.”

Although the essays were not presented chronologically by the dates when they were first presented, they however posses as certain order that are evident when one reads through. One other striking aspect is the fact that Jega’s critical essays provoke a feeling of déjà vu. It seems that things hardly change or better put that our political leaders never learn from history. Otherwise how can one explain the fact the mistakes of the past are nearly always repeated. Jega knowing his turf can be better described as a political prophet. This is because after reading this book, I could only conclude that if our political elites would only listen, Nigeria would be a much better place.

Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria is a refreshing insight on the travails of democratisation, governance and development in contemporary Nigeria and a valuable material for students, scholars, activists and all those interested in Nigeria, its current problems and its future prospects.

19 Comments

  1. Attahiru Jega is a person I look up to as a youth for inspiration. His work: Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria demonstrates his commitment to a better Nigeria.

    Reply

  2. Attairu jega. is a man of integrity.who always support truth.indeed jega is an honest man. he deserve to be INEC chairman.

    Reply

  3. he is rite for INEC job, i have my fears which only him can dispel.i sincerely hope he’s not messed up.

    Reply

  4. Well, I believe he will perform well, for Goodluck to have made him INEC chairman, he is a man of intergrity. And with his course of study, Political Science and not a Prof of Natural Science, Nigerians should expect much from him.
    Best of goodluck to Nigerians

    Reply

  5. @ Funbi: Yes you can get it from the publishers – Spectrum Books,Ibadan. I doubt if it’s on Amazon.

    Reply

  6. I THINK WE ARE GRADUALLY GETTING THERE.PROF HAS IT ALL.HE HAS PROVED HIMSELF TO NOT ONLY HAVE PERSONAL INTEGRITY BUT TO BE A STRONG MAN.HE MADE HISTORY AS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL PRESIDENT ASUU EVER HAD.HE HAS ALSO PROVED HIMSELF TO BE AN ERUDITE SCHOLAR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE.HIGHLY RESPECTED EVEN AMONG THOSE WHO CLAIM TO HAVE TRUE KNOWLEDGE(PARTICULARLY OF POLITICS).MY ONLY FEAR IS THE SYSTEM.WE NEED ELECTORAL REFORM(NEW LAWS)FOR HIM TO SUCCEED.WISH HIM THE BEST.

    Reply

  7. …did u all read bello well? d system… call it electoral laws, reforms, e.t.c., it has 2 b overhauled. They say u give a strong man a good sword. Prof. u must request this without equivocatn. This is UR LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY 2 write ur name & indeed, that of ur posterity IN GOLD in salvaging Nigeria’s ruins.

    Reply

  8. […] June 9, 2010 ATTAHIRU JEGA: THE NEW INEC CHAIR Posted by feathersproject under general Leave a Comment  As soon it became public knowledge that Professor Attahiru Jega, has been officially endorsed by the Council of State as the new electoral umpire in Nigeria, the traffic to my blog spiked dramatically. It’s amazing that in less than twenty-four hours, I had more than 500 visitors.  They had one purpose, which was to read a book review: Attahiru Jega on Democracy in Nigeria. […]

    Reply

  9. Goodluck has realy put a peg in a round hole. The appointment of PROF JEGA a famous political analyst who stand firmly towards sensetization of existing Nigerian social order toward political and social justice as INEC chairman is optmist indications of the nation.s domestic and international political development. God bless NIGERIA.

    Reply

  10. dear sir,
    we strongly believe the re-branding nigeria could start from everyone but with your credibility INEC ll prouf right.
    1)i wish i can come to you on the issue of voter registration & election in kwara state. more so what is the limit of federal inec on state inec.cos the federal government as cancel or invalid the last voters card & kwara state government still use it for local government election.all the observers that came for the election were not happy on the conduct of the election please speak.2) we want to book an appointment with you in abuja so as us to be enlighten on the credible general election in nigeria by my non governmental group called the progressive trust link. thank.

    Reply

  11. Sir,I am begging you with Allah let Nigeria move forward by not allowing any one who does not have at least B.sc to rule us any more.you can see when Late president was alive he allowed rule of law that is benefit of education

    Reply

  12. All we are saying is that he should give us a credible election.
    I hope he would not disapoint me and Nigerians because we are counting on him.

    Reply

  13. Atahiru Jega is the best thing that has happened to the democratic process in Nigeria.
    finally. democracy has been entrenched in annals of Nigerian politics

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s