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Politics

How Nigerian Politics Changed Overtime.

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THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA by Olutosin Ogunmola

Being a contribution to the paper on the challenges in modern democracies: towards a national democratic philosophy for Nigeria

Definition & Description

Modern democracies practically refer to democracies in the developing countries as against the old democracies of the European States and the United States of America.

Democracy anywhere is however premised on the institution of government of the people by the people. To counter the excesses of other forms of government, democracy was developed with the intention that when all is involved, the interest of all is protected. Democracy, therefore, is expected to yield the greatest good for the greatest number of the people. To achieve this, democracy is fundamentally designed to be representative and deliberative.

The core principles of democracy are participation, tolerance of difference and dissent, rule of law, human rights and liberties, free press, separation of powers, transparency in governance etc, etc. A look at countries like Botswana, Mauritius and South-Africa that have remained democratic since gaining independence show a well-intentioned, clear-eyed visionary leadership that have tenaciously upheld these principles.

The challenges of democracy in Nigeria

As in several other African countries, the challenge with democracy stems from the clear absence of the fundamental elements of democracy, which in turn has denied us the intended purposes of democracy in the development of the different sectors of the economy.

Democracy is ideally built upon the Constitution of the people, one that is non-existent in the case of Nigeria. We rather have a Constitution imposed on the people. Therefore, instead of answering the question if Nigerian democracy was designed to succeed or fail, I will rather aver that it is a democracy without a design. What is here practiced as democracy is what Robert Rotberg refers to as the ‘sheer rawness of democracy’.

We are in a democracy where civilian ingenuities have been perfected to continue to disenfranchise a far greater number of people, jettisoning the core principle of participation and continuing the enthronement of governments that are against the will of the people as in the colonial and military eras. It is a democracy where executive privilege and parliamentary impunity always successfully parade itself against the will of the people. The supposed representative of the people arrogantly go about determining for the people what should be Constitution amendment without any referendum of their constituents to that effect.

Further to this, there’s the challenge of executive powers and politics eroding the independence of the Judiciary and the autonomy of the Legislature. It’s a democracy in which there’s too much concentration of powers in the executive and excessive public-sector patronage. This has led to the psychological trap of those in government confusing themselves with the state – in some way thinking of themselves as embodying and being the state. This has caused corruption to thrive at very alarming rates and development stunted at unbelievable depths.

We are in a democracy where the supposed representatives of the people have continued to deny the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill thereby compromising transparency and free press to some degree.

The cause & effect of these challenges

The challenges of democracy in Nigeria, like most African countries, have their root in foundation of the country. As T. Obadina once reflected, the failure of democracy and economic development in Africa is due in large part to the scramble for wealth by predator elites who have dominated politics since independence and see the state as a source of personal wealth accumulation. We have continued to have a ruling class that is grossly disinclined to ideas and the life of serious reflection.

Military intervention in governance has further added more woes to the plight of democratic governance in Nigeria. Not only did it adversely affect the legislative component of government, it also brought the people, the electorate, down to a revoltingly unacceptable level of acquiescence to the undemocratic actions of their rulers. That’s why even now, some of the electorates would carry placards and demonstrate in favour of rulers who, apparently, are doing nothing for their good. Also, the lack of sophistication and independence by the press is not helping matters. There can be no meaningful representation to elevate the fundamental principles of checks and balances when we have a passive civil society and a weak press.

And as rightly averred earlier that this democracy has no plan other than one to serve the interest of the select few who want to continue to have their way at the expense of the collective will and interest of the people; with so much power concentrated in the executive, there are no strong institutions to curtail excesses.

Feasible ways of successfully tackling the challenges

The first essential way is for the civil society organizations to work more on the psychology of the electorates so as to get them stand up from their passivity and correctly exercise their power of the ballot. No human right can be as fundamental as the right to choose who represents one in a democratic government, which the electorate in Nigeria has continued to be denied. This is the time to consolidate efforts towards ensuring that the will of the people prevails at the polls. It is only when there is electoral justice that we can have the right people in government to deliver good governance and have democracy operated in accordance with its basic tenets.

The votes must be counted and the votes must count. Civil Society Organizations must create awareness and educate the people. The people must overcome fear and stand for their right. They must register as voters. They must scrutinize the contestants based on antecedents and capacity to now deliver. They must come out and vote on Election Day. And they must guard their votes to ensure what they voted matches the results that are declared. It is when we have a broad-based participation that democracy begins to take form and can then be truly representative and deliberative with the elected people answerable to the people.

Further to this, our democracy must be built on Institutions and not personalities. There’s the need to build strong and independent institutions as watchdogs. It is also the genuine representatives of the people elected in the manner described above that can legislate on such independent institutions, subjecting their own selfish interest to the collective good of the country.

There must also be a Constitution of the people. Away from the charade of non-representative Constitution amendment, the people must clamour for a bottom-up amendment process from the newly elected leaders they must have chosen at the polls. The Constitution would review the powers concentrated in the Executive and address salient issues regarding the composition of the country.

Conclusion

Democracy, like any other form of government, can only work when there are the right people to work it. It is not much of the model but the will to either make it work or not. And to have the right people at the helms of affairs, the electorate, including the Press, must take responsibility for broad-based participation.

Democracy must then, through the leaders elected by popular participation, be erected on the Constitution of the people and strong & independent Institutions.

Olutosin Ogunmola is currently the National Coordinator of the National Youth Network on Nigeria Elections (NYNNE), a coalition of over 100 youth NGOs and youth-led community organizations, which is championing effective youth participation in the electoral process by combating apathy in the educated youth and vulnerability to electoral violence in the uneducated youth.

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Interview

“Only Aketi can defeat Aketi in the coming election”

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Who’s Abayomi Ale?
My name is Ale Abayomi Abiodun. I am a lawyer, a transaction advisor, sustainability champion, workplace culture expert, and a politician. I am a family man. I am a proud Owo son and an indigene of Ondo State. I am debonair and conservative by nature. I may be a polymath too. I’m also a health enthusiast.

The Governorship election in Ondo State is approaching, what’s your view about the election?
It’s just another defined term for evaluation of performance. In the overview, we are lucky that Ondo State election won’t be going the rowdy way like Edo States’. Most times when too much emotions get invested in any particular election, it’s the masses and the State’s economy that suffers it the most. Such are usually violent; very expensive, as politicians may be spurred to spend ten naira where they ought to have spent five naira; and its usually difficult to recover from such battles when a winner eventually emerges. Such victories are usually pyrrhic and attended with enormous court battles.
We would have fall into same labyrinth if the estranged deputy governor of Ondo State had won the PDP ticket of the State. Its obvious God has favoured us for peace and prosperity with the way the Primary elections of the two mainstream political parties in the State turned out.

Who is your preferred candidate?
Oh… you can see that from every shade of my body language.
To be frank with you, I am of the believe that this administration has not only performed creditably well in so many sectors, but has set the economic quadrants of the State towards achieving financial sustainability. The latter is one of the reasons I preach that Arakunrin Akeredolu be allowed a second term to consolidate the foundation he has laid before handing over to another illustrious son of the State. This administration has positioned the state on a tripod stand of Industrial Opportunities; Security and Exit Strategy Seaport that will help export value-added produce and products.
This is a diversion that leads to financial independence of Ondo State. It’s a redirection that will gradually reduce our dependency on FAAC droppings from the Federal table. I strongly believe such a vision should be supported for another four years.

Are you supporting Aketi because he is your kinsman?
(Laughs)…..That’s not true. As a fact, I worked for another candidate in 2016 and didn’t support him then. This wasn’t because I didn’t trust his capacity and character then, but because I had the burden of political loyalty. My political teacher and master then supported Olusola Oke….he was even the Director-General of his campaign. There was no way I would switch loyalty midstream. I don’t give less than 100% loyalty to whomever or whatever I believe.

So you are back now with Barr. Olusola Oke to support the governor?
I have been back to support and respect Aketi as the leader of the party in the State right from when everyone returned to APC. I never supported the Unity Group. I returned to corporate practice of Law in Abuja since 2018…… I have learnt that to hold on to an ideology in Nigeria’s polity, you may need to retain and develop your second address; else the only alternative will be to become an apple-polish. I am not very good in bootlicking.

Do you think Aketi will win, or which of the candidates do you think will win the October 10 election in Ondo State?
Aketi will win! Part of my training is to be objective in analyzing products, projects, challenges and service. On this one, I reached the verdict that only Aketi can defeat Aketi in the coming election. In the scale of balances, Aketi is a strong candidate with the advantage of incumbency in the ruling party at both the central and the State. One of his contenders is a weak candidate, but with a good political party structure. The other is a good grassroot mobiliser in a political party that less than 2% of the voters in Ondo State presently can recognize its party logo. This is apart from that the latter has been labeled a turncoat with a vaulting ambition.
All Factors and Indicators point to Aketi’s win. The man is an example of what God meant in Psalm 23:5.

What is your dream for Ondo State?
That we eventually exploit our potentials to maximized benefits. Ondo State is strategically positioned with both land mineral resources and seaport advantage. If the first white man’s ship had berth at our shores, we would have been ten times greater than what Lagos is today. I believe that with the right balanced heads and economic advisers in Alagbaka for a continued period of terms, Ondo state will grow in leaps and bounds. Hopefully, the exclusive list of our federal constitution would be devolved soon. It has been a stone in the wheels of progress to many States in Nigeria.

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Award Winners and Recipients

OUTSTANDING NIGERIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMEN MERIT AWARD “2020”

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Outstanding Nigerian Local Government Chairman Merit Award 2020

Nomination List

  • The Executive Chairman, Aba South LGA. Abia State
  • The Executive Chairman, Mahia LGA, Adamawa State
  • The Executive Chairman, Ifedore LGA, Ondo State
  • The Executive Chairman, Ovia South-West LGA, Edo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Eastern Obolo LGA, Akwa-Ibom State
  • The Executive Chairman, Iwo LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Akinyele LGA, Oyo State
  • The Executive Chairman, Anambra West LGA, Anambra State
  • The Executive Chairman, Bogoro LGA, Bauchi State
  • The Executive Chairman, Sagbama LGA, Bayelsa State
  • The Executive Chairman, Ador LGA, Benue State
  • The Executive Chairman, Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State
  • The Executive Chairman, Akampa LGA, Crossriver State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Aniocha South LGA, Delta State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ohaukwu LGA, Ebonyi State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Egor LGA, Edo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ikole LGA, Ekiti State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Igbo Eze LGA, Enugu State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Bwari LGA, Federal Capital Territory
  • The Executive Chairman, Balanga LGA, Gombe State
  • The Executive Chairman, Obokun LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Oluyole LGA, Oyo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ideato South LGA, Imo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Babura LGA, Jigawa State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Kachia LGA, Kaduna State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Gezawa LGA, Kano State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Dan Musa LGA, Katsina State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Argungu LGA, Kebbi State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ajaokuta LGA, Kogi State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Toungo LGA, Adamawa State
  • The Executive Chairman, Baruten LGA, Kwara State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ibadan South-West LGA, Oyo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Eti-Osa LGA, Lagos State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Akwanga LGA, Nasarawa State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Borgu LGA, Niger State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Odeda LGA, Ogun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ilaje LGA, Ondo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ife-Central LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Egbeda LGA, Oyo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Langtang North LGA, Plateau State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Kaura Namoda LGA, Zamfara State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Girei LGA, Adamawa State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Bodinga LGA, Sokoto State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Kurmi LGA, Taraba State
  • The Executive Chairman, Olorunda LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Iddo LGA, Oyo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Karasuwa LGA, Yobe State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Kaura Namoda LGA, Zamfara State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ryom LGA, Plateau State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Song LGA, Adamawa State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Alkaleri LGA, Bauchi State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Emure LGA, Ekiti State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Lokoja LGA, Kogi State
  • The Executive Chairman, Akoko North-West LGA, Ondo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Yewa North LGA, Ogun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Odo-Otin LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Afijio LGA, Oyo State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ado-Ekiti LGA, Ekiti State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Koton-Karfi LGA, Kogi State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Odeda LGA, Ogun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Orolu LGA, Osun State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Mangu LGA, Plateau State
  •  The Executive Chairman, Ibadan South LGA, Oyo State

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Insight

Pastor Adeboye Leads Protest to End Killings in Nigeria

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Pastor Adeboye carrying placards

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, discarded his hitherto conservative and conciliatory disposition and took to the streets to lead thousands of his members in a protest march against insecurity and killings of Christians across the nation, especially in northern states.

The action is sequel to an earlier directive by the leader of one of the most influential Pentecostal churches in Nigeria that its members should conduct the protest nationwide, with him starting his own action at exactly 11am at the RCCG National Headquarters in Ebute Metta, Lagos.

The Assistant General Overseer (Admin and Personnel) of the church, Pastor J.F Odesola, in a circular dated January 29, 2020, addressed to all regions and provinces of the RCCG, parishes of the church were asked to end their service not later than 11am on Sunday to enable members “march round their immediate environment, praying for God’s intervention in the ongoing situation in Nigeria.”

The protests are at the instance of the RCCG General Overseer, Pastor Adejare Adeboye.

The circular, read: “The Christian Association of Nigeria, the umbrella body for all Christians and Christian organisations in Nigeria, has made a clarion call for prayers and advocacy to all Christians in Nigeria in response to the inhumane acts against Christians in the country.”

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