10 Years of Civilian Interregnum

Mr Yar'Adua, President of Nigeria

Mr Yar'Adua, President of Nigeria

Nwachukwu Egbunike

“Injustice- I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me. And yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him; and I wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back”. – Leo Tolostoy (1828-1910) in “What Then Must We Do?”

Civilian rule, particularly the type currently practiced in Nigeria, is a government of some people, by some people and for some people. It will be a crude joke to imply that we have a democracy. For in appearance, it looks like one but in fact it is just a transition from military dictatorship to civilian rule.

For a decade, the principal right of Nigerians to duly elect their leaders have been denied. Each successive election has been a progressive deteriorating ulcer, with the courts giving palliative care from time to time. Until Nigerians can choose their leaders through the ballot box, we’ll continue to have this civilian interregnum. Our country seems to have earned itself a pride of place by redefining the theories of power. Nigerian politicians have added a middle phase, which is neither pure dictatorial tyranny nor democratic governance.

In addition, we have a very biased electoral body, which is intently an agency of the Peoples Democratic Party. Going by the extent and large scale wuruwuru, INEC, is determined to defend the impossible. Besides, the pharmacist will remain untouchable and the electoral reform, an appetizer in our quest for true democracy.

I was rather disappointed with this year’s Democracy Day Celebrations. There was no cake cutting. In the past, the principal officers of the three arms of government, assisted by the chief of the most chaotic party in Africa usually gathered to literally cut the ‘national cake’. I have no illusion of ever getting a chunk of the cake; nonetheless, it falls within the ambits of my right as a citizen to demand for the ‘national garri’.

The national cake symbolizes the collective failure of government; it typifies the inherent mentality to perceive it as a privilege. It is the height of injustice to deny citizens of their fundamental right to determine their government. In its absence, we are treated to a constant course of obscenities, arising from our undistinguished representatives.

While I intend not to whine and moan, an attribute of our national lure, I cannot remain mute. Silence in the face of injustice, is comfortable but disastrous. The mess we are witnessing is a direct consequence of the basic role of governance. “Since the state alone embodies genuine authority and therefore incorporates, realizes and administers the common good”, (L. J. Munoz: 1996, Virtues: An Inquiry into Moral Values of Our Times). The provision of the common good (national garri) is the prime responsibility of any government. These are usually not far fetched – they include good roads, security, social services, etc. The wonders of Mr Fashola of Lagos State are hinged on this pedestal.

Justice consists in giving each person his due. Distributive justice finds it loudest amplification in the applications in political power. Munoz remarked in 1996, that “injustice disunites;” a contradiction of Ade Ajayi’s “justice unites”. Although there have been splashes of true ‘democratic dividends’ in areas of our national polity, the rest are just lies and only lies.

For any true progress, people have to perceive sincerity and transparency in government business. The current trend of graft and pampering of pen criminals have to end. Nigerians demand their due, a government they can call their own; an administration that is really bent on changing the country. Until that happens, let us not deceive ourselves in the pretence of democratic euphoria. For the time being it does not exist, we only have a civilian rule.


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