When Nigerian’s military dictators handed back power to the political class on May 29, 1999, the expectations worldwide were that our country was ready to practice civil democracy the way it should, having learnt the hard way. It was a legitimate expectation considering the fact that Nigeria was just emerging from a long period of military rule and suppression of democratic institutions.
Ironically and sadly too, our politicians seem to have learnt nothing from Nigeria’s chequered past despite the price paid by patriots especially pro-democracy groups in lives and property in an effort to entrench the rule of law. They preferred their own brand of democracy, characterized by indiscipline, corruption, high handedness and lack of respect for the Rule of Law.
If what is being practiced in Nigeria is still Democracy, where the views of the majority holds sway as obtains in other democratic cultures, what explanation has the Federal Government, particularly the Presidency for recognizing Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, who scored 16 votes at the Governors Forum chairmanship election last May instead of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of River State who scored 19 votes? If what our key political figures are doing is not their own brand of Democracy, how come that five out of 32 Law makers in the Rivers State House of Assembly, got up one morning to announce that they have impeached their Speaker amidst the loud objection by the rest of 27 Legislators and no higher authority could promptly call them to order?
What type of democracy would allow a fight to take place in a State House of Assembly without anyone being disciplined or punished?
Why allow such security lapses to give room for a free for all fight during the sitting of the House, resulting in so-called honourable members smashing one another’s head with every available object, including the Mace? Or were they simply rehearsing what they learnt from their senior colleagues of the Federal House of Representatives, where a similar “war” took place five years ago?
What has been happening in the Rivers State House of Assembly and at Governors Forum creates the impression that Governor Amaechi is being witch-hunted by those who perceive him as a formidable opposition to President Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid, an allegation which Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati has denied severally. President Jonathan has also denied having a hand in the grounding of Amaechi’s private jet two months ago by Nigeria’s Aviation Authorities. Dame Patience Jonathan, the country’s First Lady has equally washed her hands off the causes of Amaechi’s travails, even as she recalled that a cold war has been existing between them since 2011. But wait, was President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife a politically elected officer. What is her role in government? Nigeria’s brand of democracy indeed! All these squabbles and rancours are traceable to greed for money and quest for political power in total neglect of rule of law. This is why the civilized world continues to cast aspersion of Nigeria’s brand of democracy, as demonstrated in the continued refusal by United States President, Barack Obama to visit Nigeria each time he is on official tour of Sub-Saharan Africa.
It is obvious that Nigerian political leaders are scared of real democracy. This is because it means discipline and playing by the rules of the law, two virtues that are alien to the Nigeria psych and consciousness.