BEING A DEBATE TOPIC PRESENTED ON THE 27TH OF JUNE, 2014; AT AN LnD MEETING, FACULTY OF LAW, U.I.
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master; that expresses my idea of democracy
~ Abraham Lincoln.
…..………… [GREETINGS] ………………
Today, we have countless systems of government in the world which we can choose from, while some are just on paper, others operate in the corners of true power. We have hyper-anarchy [government by no one], barbarocracy [government by barbarians], foolocracy [government by fools], chryso–aristocracy [government by the wealthy], diabolocracy [government by the devil], kleptocracy [government by thieves]; and as put by our own political analyst and verbal contortionist, Patrick Obahiagbon, we also have kakisto–mobo–plutocracy [government by the worst of mobs who are rich]. But then, ladies and gentlemen, I stand here today to tell us that the best of all these governmental systems, which has been tested and trusted for centuries, is nothing but Democracy [rule by the people]. Just as Ronald Reagan said; ‘it is the most deeply honourable form of government ever devised by man.’
Before I proceed to stating the premises on which I base this assertion, I would like to define the term democracy. We may say it is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally – either directly or indirectly through elected representatives. It is, according to Aristotle, when the indigent and not the men of property are the rulers. When we say ‘power to the people’; when we say ‘putting people over politics’; that is democracy. And by saying, democracy is the best system of government; it does not mean it is perfect, just that it is better than all others. There is no better substitute for it.
Democracy is the best form of government because:
- It respects and promotes human rights, and even gender and animal rights. The self-evident and God-given rights of man are easily secured in a democratic system. These rights are even entrenched in a written code, just as we have in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- All are equal before the law. This is because democracy incorporates elements of nomocracy [the rule of law] and pantisocracy [the rule of everyone equally]. It is undoubtedly only in a true democratic system that we can find a fisherman suing a multi-national oil company, or a lowly citizen suing his president.
- Equal representation of both majority and minority interests. Unlike in some political dispensations where only a certain gender or household can be in found in government, where people like me and you may be crucified for dreaming to become head of state; democracy gives all and sundry including the minority a voice. If not for democracy, someone like President Goodluck Jonathan couldn’t have become a Deputy Governor, let alone considering running for a second term as President. Democracy is a system of equality, not a system of only-he-is-quality, it is a system of justice, not that of just-us.
- In a democracy, people get what they deserve, they get what they desire. If there is corruption and insecurity, it is because the people are working towards them. It is as a result of their overall decision, and not because some persons forced it down their throat. Thus, the people not only get to decide who is authority, they also get to decide what is their destiny.
- Finally, democracy paves way for man to have fundamental freedoms. The freedom of movement, the freedom to vote, the freedom to school, the freedom to use Facebook, twitter and so on. And above all, it also guarantees the freedom of speech because if not for democracy, we will not be here today, debating about democracy.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is no coincidence that Norway tops the Global Democracy ranking in 2013 and again tops the UN Human Development Index of the same year. In fact, the top 10 countries in the former ranking except one are among the first 21 in the second.
Tomas Garrigue once said: ‘Democracy has its faults because people have their faults; like owner like store’ – in Czech, ‘jaky pan, takovy kram’. So whatever fault we find to malign democracy is not because of the system, but those running it. Thus, the efficacy of democracy may be got only from the sincerity of humanity.
To conclude, I hope, just as Abraham Lincoln hoped on November 19, 1863; that the ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’