Genuine Democracy: The Price And The Prize


By John Iwuala

As Nigeria inches towards another round of General Elections in 2015, Nigeria’s Political gladiators should be reminded that “in promoting agenda for democratic governance, there is a “price’ to pay and a ‘prize’ to win” the balance of which produces visionary leadership to our dear country- Nigeria.
Democracy and good governance lay the foundation for people to realize themselves for sustainable development. Democratic governance facilitates human rights of fairness, freedom and equity, and produces dividends for all the citizens which include the observance of human rights.
Yes, it is true and a well known fact that one of the most prevalent obstacles to good governance is inadequate leadership and the challenge of delivering appropriate dividends of democracy to citizens. Democratic governance, when in place, is the ultimate platform that enables the people to attain sustainable growth. Democracy that does not translate into tangible socio-economic development of our people in the rural communities is not sustainable.
Nigerian leaders could reduce poverty through the vision of economic growth and wealth creation and equally achievable only through an all-inclusive participatory government and tolerance of members of the opposition. The ruling and opposition parties need to find common ground. The opposition should be hosted in the State house from time to time for consultations because democracy and visionary and dedicated leadership are the most important keys to delivering the dividends of democracy. They promote different kinds of leaderships that are not found under a dictatorship.
It is quite obvious that in many countries today not all the democratic aspirations had been realized but various governments in the world had ensured the enthronement of democratic governance which promotes protection of lives and property, freedom, conscience and association and freedom thought and of expression.
We should not therefore overlook one of the major challenges that are impinging on the delivery of democratic dividends to the citizens which is ‘over-reliance on foreign donors’. This has made many countries to depend on donors to be sustained.
While the situation is tolerable in the short run, we need to find a lasting solution that will wean ourselves of donor dependence through reformed desire to improve the quality of lives of the citizens by increasing accountability and transparency.
Corruption not only widens the gap between the rich and the poor, but also undermines the success of the entire democratic system. The only solution to tackle corruption and donor issues in governance is to increase export and allow donors to be partners in the march to the economic emancipation of the country.
Africa will never develop unless its rural communities are developed. There should be village transformative initiative to ensure that in the rural areas there is no vicious circle of under-development and poverty. This can be achieved through the building of clinics, modern schools and markets, the establishment of microfinance banks and the empowerment of farmers in the rural communities to grow food and cash crops to reduce the level of poverty.
This initiative will also mobilize traditional leaders to form various advocacy committees to promote governance, programmes and projects of Government especially as traditional rulers are well positioned at the centre of grass roots democracy. African leaders should be promoters of gender equality in governance. Many African leaders had not encouraged women participation in the leadership and governance of their countries.
As we discuss Genuine Democracy: “The Price and the Prize,” we should know that some two decades after African countries began the process of restoring multiparty politics and democratically elected governments founded on Constitutional order, Citizens’ rights and the rule of law, the time is now right for Africans to engage in stock taking. Such exercise would enable Africans, Nigerians in particular, to assess the quality of our efforts with a view to deepening the root of democracy across the continent. “Nigerians should ask themselves questions about the road they have travelled so far and what alternatives are available towards forging ahead to building and sustaining a just, stable, prosperous and democratic nation.
We should know from comparative experience across the world, that no democracy successfully reproduces itself if it does not speak to the developmental aspiration of the citizens, both material and non material.
These aspirations encompass participation, inclusion, consultation, representation, accountability, and the rule of law as against arbitrariness and rule by fiat, and incremental improvement of the welfare of the citizens.
Democratic consciousness would never really fully blossom unless we also make the necessary individual and group sacrifices for our shared vision, which would result in a stable and prosperous country founded on the highest idea of human progress.
Experts who sought to analyze the African situation with the objective of solving the contradiction that hindered the development of the continent observed that, given the amount of resources deployed towards poverty reduction and other human development initiatives, there should have been significant progress in human development across the continent. May we share the conviction that the current state of stagnation in development in Africa can only be overcome by creating a new generation of African leaders whose philosophical prowess would be able to change the psyche of our people so that we learn how to know that in Genuine Democracy there is a PRICE to pay and a PRIZE to win.