• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

When democracy faces temptation

Nigeria’s “Performance Democracy”: Transcript of my keynote address (2)

We have all heard and read that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on March 1 declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu the winner of the February 25 presidential election. The APC presidential candidate polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who got 6,984,520 votes and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi that had 6,101,533 votes, according to media reports.

Reports from the press also showed that some protesters under the aegis of the Free Nigeria Movement on Tuesday last week, allegedly asked the President to annul the February 25 presidential election and set up an interim government. But as expected, hundreds of pro-Tinubu protesters, under the aegis of ‘The Natives’, stormed the streets of Abuja on Monday, warning against the imposition of an interim national government.

However, the Department of State Services (DSS) in a statement issued recently, said it had identified some key players in the plot for an interim national government. It stated, “The service considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the constitution and undermine civil rule as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis. The illegality is totally unacceptable in a democracy and to the peace-loving Nigerians.”

In a democratic society, it is the responsibility of every citizen to promote and defend the principles of democracy, including the proper functioning of democratic institutions

Despite some irregularities reported, elections have been held both nationally and sub-nationally. Those that are being disputed are already before the courts. So why should anyone come up with this infamous idea of interim national government at this material time?

Why is it that some powerful Nigerians don’t love Nigeria? They are always interested in bringing anarchy upon the land. Regarding anarchists, Salvador Dalí once said, “what is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.” Yes, there are some people whose obligation to the country is to spread confusion so that Nigerians will keep managing the chaos. At a time of many economic challenges coupled with a polarized and ever- changing political climate, such a temptation to cause chaos is expected in my view. What is expected of us all is to be law abiding citizens.

That is why it is imperative to ask: Who are those individuals that want to impose an interim government on the people? Some senior advocates of Nigeria have argued strongly that there is currently no constitutional provision in place to establish an interim government after the conclusion of the 2023 elections.

The recent revelation from the DSS regarding the rumored plot by some politicians to disrupt Nigeria’s democratic process through the implementation of an interim government is deeply concerning. Such an arrangement would undoubtedly be a significant setback to our country’s strides towards sustained democracy, and we all have a duty to oppose it.

What are the potential benefits of having an interim government for a country that is highly indebted? An interim government, while it can offer certain benefits during times of political transition or economic crisis, can also have some drawbacks for a country. The lack of democratic legitimacy can undermine the government’s authority and make it difficult to garner support and trust from the public. Additionally, an interim government may not have a strong mandate to implement policies, which can lead to inefficiencies in decision-making and less progress on important issues. An interim government may also inadvertently prolong the period of uncertainty, which could further damage the country’s stability and reduce its prospects for prosperity.

Keeping the democratic process alive has several benefits over establishing an interim government. The benefits include:

a. Upholding the rule of law: Continuously following the democratic process and institutions help uphold the rule of law and reinforces confidence in the country’s governance structures.

b. Promoting peaceful transitions: By allowing the democratic process to continue, peaceful transition of power is ensured in the long run.

c. Preserving the gains of democracy: There may be considerable strides in terms of democratic governance, human rights, and rule of law that have been made so far.

d. Enhancing participation: Democracy allows for participation and representation, enabling more people to make their voices heard and participate in the governance of the country.

e. Fostering economic growth: A stable democracy that upholds the rule of law and democratic procedures can also create a conducive environment for investment and economic growth, benefiting the country as a whole.

Eminent Nigerians have expressed their views on the negative impact of interim government for Nigeria. These respected Nigerians have been advocates of good governance and transparent electoral processes. And they have consistently emphasized the importance of respect for the constitution and the rule of law in advancing democracy in Nigeria.

It is not the role of security agencies to arrest individuals based solely on their opinions or calls for certain actions, even if such opinions or calls are controversial. In a democratic society, it is the responsibility of every citizen to promote and defend the principles of democracy, including the proper functioning of democratic institutions and the adherence to the rule of law.

Read also: Dodgy elections, democracy and divorce

Therefore, anyone who is concerned about the calls for an interim government should feel free to express their opinions to their elected representatives, civil society organizations or through peaceful protests. Additionally, leaders of political parties, religious organizations, labour unions, and other stakeholders can play a role in cautioning individuals or groups who call for extra-constitutional means of changing governments.

Democracy is good. Yes, democracy is generally considered to be a good form of government, as it allows people to elect their leaders and participate in the decision-making process of their country. It also promotes individual rights, political freedom, and the rule of law, which can contribute to a more equitable and just society. However, like any form of government, it is not perfect and requires constant attention, maintenance, and improvement to remain effective and responsive to the needs of its citizens.

Electoral process must be transparent. Truly, transparency is an important aspect of any electoral process. A transparent electoral process is one where voters have equal access to information about the candidates and parties contesting the election, as well as the procedures that are being followed for the conduct of the election.

It also involves the mobilization of appropriate resources to ensure that the electoral process is free, fair, credible, and transparent, and that all votes are counted accurately. By promoting transparency in the electoral process, citizens can have confidence that their vote was counted, and that the results of an election reflect the will of the people. This can help to prevent electoral fraud, promote accountability, and strengthen democratic governance.

One cannot stop talking about the role of the judiciary in a democratic society. The role of the judiciary in a democratic society is to uphold the rule of law and the constitution. In general, it is not the role of the judiciary to determine whether an interim government should be put in place or not.

Instead, this is a matter for democratic institutions and the people of the country to decide through peaceful and transparent electoral processes. Moreover, an interim government without a clear mandate from the people or a constitutional provision can create a constitutional crisis, which can undermine the credibility of democratic institutions and the rule of law. That is why I align myself with some Nigerians who have expressed the importance of having a peaceful and transparent electoral process that reflects the will of the people and ensures the continuity of democratic institutions.

In a democratic society, it is important to promote and defend the principles of democracy, including free and fair elections and the proper functioning of democratic institutions. In general, establishing an interim government should be avoided, as it can have negative consequences for a country’s political and economic stability.

Therefore, efforts should be made to resist the establishment of an interim government and support the continuation of the democratic process, with the goal of ensuring a peaceful and legitimate transfer of power through elections. Thank you.