• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s declining democracy: Who is responsible?

Celebrating Nigeria’s, Taiwan’s resilience to democracy

We are all responsible for the failing democracy in Nigeria, not INEC, not the judiciary, and not politicians.

Nigeria’s democratic system has been facing severe criticism lately due to the country’s ongoing democratic struggles. Many people have blamed the politicians, judiciary, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the breakdown in the democratic process. However, it is crucial that every citizen of this great country takes a moment to reflect on their own responsibilities in this matter. We all must realize that we share the responsibility for the state of our democracy, and we must work towards improving it.

Democracy is not a passive spectator sport; it requires active and informed participation from the people. The bedrock of every democracy is its people. However, how often have we failed to fulfil our responsibility to hold those in power accountable? How many times have we ignored corruption or sold our votes for a small sum, only to later complain about the state of the country?

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) responsible for conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria is not impeccable. However, it reflects the society it serves. It is unreasonable to expect INEC to magically transform our elections into paragons of democracy if we continue to allow a culture of violence, voter intimidation, and election tampering. While it is easy to blame the referee when our team is losing, we should focus more on the players’ competence and the fairness of the game.

There is a common belief that the judiciary system is corrupt. However, it is important to note that the judiciary operates within the framework set by the community it serves. The foundation of the judiciary is at risk when we allow a culture of impunity to persist and overlook instances of power abuse and corruption. We all have a responsibility to demand transparency, accountability, and an unwavering commitment to justice.

Politicians undeniably are largely responsible for the current state of our democracy. However, we must also acknowledge that they reflect our choices as voters. If we continue to vote for candidates solely based on their tribal or religious affiliations rather than their competency, we cannot expect them to prioritize the interests of the whole nation over their own personal agendas. Therefore, we need to be mindful of our choices and elect leaders who are deserving of the responsibility placed upon them.

Democracy is a continuous process that does not end on election day. In fact, it requires the active engagement of an informed and vigilant citizenry. Voting is just one part of the process. To make informed decisions, we need to educate ourselves about the fundamentals of democracy and learn to hold our public officials accountable.

Read also: Fractured opposition, fragile democracy

We must create a culture of civic duty to build a robust democracy. This can be achieved by engaging in town hall meetings, participating in community development projects, respecting the rules of law, respecting human rights, and having productive discussions with our elected officials regularly. It is essential to challenge the status quo and demand transparency to improve society.

Rather than pointing fingers at INEC, the judiciary, or politicians, let us take a proactive approach to our democracy. It is time for each of us to take responsibility and play an active role in shaping our country’s future. By recognizing our collective responsibility and participating in the democratic process, we can work towards building a Nigeria where justice, fairness, and accountability are at the forefront.

Afeniforo is a sustainable development practitioner and Ph.D. scholar at the IUSS Pavia, Italy.