By Noble Uche Agbaeze
The World Bank Report of 1989 on sustainable economic development in Africa established that the absence of sustainable economic development could be attributed to the non-practice of democracy and good governance on the continent.
Thus the World Bank, which could be considered mainly an economic institution, had to go out of its way to prescribe an improvement of the quality of governance of the African States as the precondition for sustainable economic development in Africa in the 1990s.
The recommendations of the bank in its “good governance” prescriptions and prognosis for African States included: the need for the rule of law, the accountability of the government to the governed, a reliable judicial system and the empowerment of civil society organizations.
In a general sense “democracy” is used to describe a system of government in which the ultimate power or what is professionally referred to as sovereignty springs and rests on the people as opposed to other forms of government in which the final decision-making power rests on an individual, the monarch, or within a small number of persons as in aristocracy or oligarchy. It is really in this sense that the Aristotelian classification of political systems into democracy is based.
The Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as established under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), under Chapter II, Section 14 (2) (a) expressly and unambiguously declares that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; this is the time to vest sovereignty on the people in practical reality to effectuate this position.
According to Abraham Lincoln, democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Some scholars also define “Democracy as a system of government where the majority have their way and the minority have their say” or again: “democracy is limited government” meaning that all actors and institutions under a democratic government must exercise restrains in the course of exercising their powers otherwise their conducts constitute illegalities.
Whereas in a relatively new concept, having entered the political lexicon in the 1970s and 1980s as a large number of underdeveloped countries were struggling to deal with the political and economic problems which poor political leadership had generated for their countries, “good governance”, which by way of definition, refers to a system of government based on good leadership, respect for the rule of law and due processes, the accountability of the political leadership to the electorate as well as transparency in the operations of government.
Another dangerous and antithetical monster destroying our democracy is that economic and political powers are so much in the hands of very few Nigerians and majority of them are already so considerably old, exhausted and weak but have insatiably refused to become elder statesmen who should be advising the younger, stronger and smarter people from behind.
There is no way we can expand the political space to accommodate more young people at our level of political civilization, without the direct primaries, we will continue to be bound in the captivity of the few old cabals who have been holding this nation down with their bad governance for decades and destroying the destinies of Nigerians who go to their graves with their talents unexplored and unheard.
How can we talk about democracy, good governance, legitimacy of government, loyalty and patriotism of Nigerians, accountability, eschewing arrogance of those in power, self-aggrandizements, abuse of office, fighting corruption, brazen abuse of civil and political Rights of Nigerians, and reckless violations of the economic social and cultural Rights of Nigerians without supporting direct primaries for political parties that form the governments in our democratic system? knowing fully well that corrupt practices and criminal ideologies at the political parties level shall be transferred into the entire nation once such political parties win elections to form government.
My perception about President Muhammadu Buhari, judging from precedents and antecedents so far, is that he has done well in the area of allowing the wish and will of the people to override the selfish will of the selfish few, therefore I am optimistic that he shall assent this bill, but should he for any reason withhold assent then it is instructive that I respectfully call on the national assembly to invoke their powers as provided under Section 58 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) to override him because majority of Nigerians want direct primaries.
So some bigwigs in PDP and APC can now unite for the wrong reason, against the people, they will not disagree on this one abi? because they want to remain in office or install their successors or manipulate themselves into the next political office, those at the National Assembly to become governors and those who are governors to become national assembly members, in a quid pro quo arrangement, like the barter trade, some others want to be promoted to godfathers, just to continue being in charge of the economic and political powers at the detriment of the people, any person that is against direct primaries is against the people of Nigeria.
Again, without allowing a system that will return the electoral and enthronement power to the people, how can we talk about, good governance, transparency, accountability, fight against corruption, especially looting of funds meant for serving the needs of the people through white elephant projects? You are the real corrupt Nigerian if your political philosophy at this time in the history of Nigeria does not support direct primaries, I don’t care about the name of your political party, your real mane is corruption and you deserve to be that be stopped by Nigerians.
It may sound caustic if one says those against the direct primaries are those who want the present menaces in Nigeria to continue because the fundamental force building and enlarging these menaces in our country is bad governance foisted by electoral fraud, this is just the truth, Nigerians must rise against these common enemies of the people.
Enough of the affronts on our sensibilities, enough of the indignities that have bespattered the face of Nigeria with shame.
(Agbaeze is a Jurisprudence and Political Development Researcher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)