DEMOCRACY IS THE BEST SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

ower to the people

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], chrysoaristocracy [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 kakistomoboplutocracy [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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.’

Thank you!

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NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

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NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

Presented As A Debate For The Purpose Of The “In-House Speaking Championship”, The Semi-Final.

Courtesy: Faculty Of Law, UI, Literary And Debating Society.

Date: 28th February, 2014.

MAIN SPEECH

I almost wept when I saw a picture of a newspaper headline that says ‘NEPA: No more black-out!’ I was sad, not because I’m seeing such promise for the first time or because I do not want the power supply in Nigeria to be stable. I was sad because the article was published as far back as 1988.

And we all know the condition of the power sector till this very date.

Nigeria: A failed state?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo is my name, and I am here on this occasion to propose the bitter but factual submission that Nigeria is a failed state.

Before I delve deep into speechmaking, I think just as it is pertinent that we know what leadership truly is before we publicly declare Mobutu Sese Seko the Mandela of D.R. Congo, we also need to know what ‘a failed state’ means before we can wear its cloak for Nigeria.

A failed state, according to the Fund for Peace, means ‘a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government … [1] the central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory [2] non-provision of public services [3] widespread corruption and criminality and [4] sharp economic decline.’ Now, let’s take a look at these one after the other.

One, the central government is so weak that it has little control over much of its territory. The validation for this is simple. Let me ask us, if the federal government asks us to resume school for the next session on June 1st, and again, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko haram says nobody must go to school, whose order will we comply with? The answer to this goes to show that that the state has not only lost control over its territory, it has lost control over its citizenry too.

Two is the non-provision of public services. It is well known that Nigeria is such a country where the people are the government. Not in the sense that they decide how the affairs of the state are administrated, but that they provide virtually everything for themselves. It is the duty of the government to provide electricity, but we find people struggling to buy generators, struggling to ‘better pass their neighbours’. It is the duty of government to provide tap-water. Yet we find boreholes here and there dug buy private individuals. It is the duty of the state to give us good roads, but we still find people building bridges themselves and collecting tolls, we see people filling potholes with little stones.

Thirdly, we have widespread corruption and criminality. Nothing can be truer than this. The country is so corrupt that on typing ‘Nigeria’ on the Google search engine, it quickly suggests ‘a corrupt country?’ A country where the President can afford to spend 1 billion naira on food per annum, even though he vowed to be eating Cassava bread and majority of populace is starving to death. A country where 20 billion dollars can vanish into thin air and no one will raise an eyebrow. A country where armed robbery, kidnapping and bombing are the orders of the day. If such country has not failed, then perhaps I need to go back to my dictionary and check the meaning of failure.

I wish to sum up my points with the result of a recent survey conducted by the United States think-tank, an independent research organisation; the Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy magazine. Nigeria was ranked as the 15th most failed nation in the world out of 177 countries. Even, she has moved upward 3 places from the 18th position in 2008. Meaning Nigeria is not just a failed state, she is gradually on her way to overthrow Somalia and hence become the king of failed states in the world.

This survey goes to show that the fact that Nigeria is a failed state is not only a well-grounded opinion of Nigerians; it is a universally acclaimed, globally established, self-evident truth.

In conclusion, I wish to seek validation in the sagacious diction of Demosthenes: Res ipsa loquitur, the facts speak for themselves, if only we will pay attention.

REBUTTAL

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it’ – Flannery O’Connor.

My contending debater has said that Nigeria can be said not to be a failed state because we have remain united. But let me ask. If I manufacture a vehicular contraption, a jalopy so to speak, that cannot move an inch. It does not work. Can we say it is a successful invention just because of the fact that the spare parts hold on together?

Again, he said Nigeria has produced numerous elites and scholars renowned world-wide. But I must say that this is in no way a function of our being successful, it is solely a function of our large population.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with all these facts, I am forced to propose that it will not be out of place if we rechristen the state from the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ to the ‘Failed Republic of Disaster’.

Confucius said ‘do not use a canon to kill a mosquito’. Thus, I will rest my case here believing we are convinced beyond any inkling of doubt that indeed Nigeria is a failed state.

MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

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THIS IS A DEBATE PRESENTED AT UCJ’S 2ND FRANCIS EGBOKHARE INTER-PRESS DEBATE COMPETITION

TOPIC: 

MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

 DURATION: 3 MINUTES.

DATE: 31ST OF JANUARY, 2014.

VENUE: GAMALIEL ONOSODE’S SEMINAR  ROOM, MELLANBY HALL, UI.

Joseph Joubert said, ‘it is better to debate a question without settling it, than to settle a question without debating it.’

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen. Adebajo Adekunle is my name. And I am here, on this august occasion, as an ambassador of the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I will be speaking in defence of the submission: Multiple Party System Is Better Than Bi-Party System For The Nigerian Political Arena.

So what is my justification for holding this conviction.

First and foremost, the multiple party system does not limit the voters’ choice. Voters are given a wide range of candidates to choose from in line with the ideals of democracy, liberty and justice. As aptly summarised in the words of Thomas Sowell, ‘the most basic function of government is to provide a framework of law and order, within which the people are free to choose.’ Ladies and Gentlemen, do we call it freedom when you are asked to choose between Starcomms and MTN? Do we call it freedom when you are offered admission only at Igbinedon university and University of Maiduguri? Do we call it freedom when you are given scholarship to study either in Syria or Somalia? Do we call it freedom when you can only choose between two political parties? When you are compelled to pick ‘the lesser’ out of two evils? When we can actually choose the best out of many ‘goods’. No we do not call it freedom! Why? Because Pars libertatis est non liberum, partial freedom is no freedom at all.

Secondly and in addendum, the two party system and Autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism are sons of the same mother. This assertion has anchorage and is substantially validated in a scenario that played out in the first republic of Ghana, when the late President Kwame Nkrumah used the Preventive Detention Act to arrest and detain members of the Opposition United Party, leading to the gradual dismantling of the opposition, and virtually turning Ghana into a one-party state.

Finally, the multiple party system is natural, legal and recognised by the constitution of this country, which states in Section 40 that: ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.

To conclude, all I am saying, my elite addressees, is that to have just two political parties in a political entity such as this will only, as a matter of certainty and inevitability, cast the political arena of the country into a governmental instability, administrative despondency and electoral melancholy. Nigeria is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-tribal, multi-dimensional, multi-directional, multi-faceted, multi-racial, multi-purpose, multi-vocal, and multitudinous nation. Tell me, what better party system will suit our political arena, if not the multi-party system?

I rest my case!

THE RECENT INDUSTRIAL ACT EMBARKED UPON BY ASUU: WHO IS TO BLAME, ASUU OR FG?

BEING A DEBATE PRESENTED AT THE 2ND PROFESSOR FRANCIS EGBOKHARE UCJ INTER-PRESS DEBATE.

VENUE: MELLANBY HALL SCR, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN

DATE: JANUARY 24, 2014.

 

 

PREAMBLE.

Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is – Sir Winston Churchill.

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen, standing before you is Adebajo Adekunle and I am representing the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I am here on this occasion to address the resolution which says, ‘the recent industrial act embarked upon by ASUU, who is to blame, ASUU or FG?’

I remember it as if it were yesterday. On a Monday afternoon, while in ENG 112 class, the lecturer declared to our chagrin and dismay that the class will not be holding. Why? The Academic Staff Union Of Universities had suddenly decided to embark on a total, complete and indefinite strike action. About 1.5 million Nigerian Youths, university undergraduates, were forcefully exiled to their mothers’ homes between Monday, July 1st and Tuesday, December 17th. For 6 months, equivalent to 170 days [or if you like 244,800 minutes] we were very busy at home, doing absolutely nothing related to academics.

Graduation years were unjustly delayed. We even witnessed the adjournment of wedding dates. Scholarships worth millions of naira became a waste. and most sadly of all, some, who while trying to make ends meet, passed away. So, I ask, who are we to blame?

Seneca once said; it is rash to condemn where you are ignorant. Meaning we cannot constructively evaluate what we do not critically appreciate. The recent ASUU strike had a genesis. In fact, It had a basis which we must all figure out before a move can be made for scrutiny and finger-pointing. Thus, I ask. What is this basis?

On the 14th of December 2006, the then Minister of education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, on behalf of the federal government, inaugurated the Federal Government/ASUU re-negotiation committee with the aim of looking into the union’s  clamouring for a revitalisation of the academia. It held series of meetings between the years of 2007 and 2008; and in January 2009, came up with a 51-page Memorandum of Understanding, duly signed and considered binding on the parties.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TO BLAME.

It might be argued that: since the federal government was not present in the meetings in which the what, where, when and how of the industrial strike were discussed, then we should not hold them accountable for a decision they had no hand in making.

However, as a student of logic, I know of the fallacious genre called ‘non causa pro causa’ (false cause), which holds that the immediate cause is not always the culpable cause, but the pristine, prototypical one. And as a student of law, I equally know that ‘metus in lege excusat’ (duress in law excuses). I may use my hands to murder another person, and yet go scot free, if I was under duress to do it or it was in self-defence. The same common-sense is applicable to the recent industrial strike, as I believe the union was under duress to embark on strike due to the lackadaisical attitude of their yearnings.

How exactly the union was directly under duress by FG to go on strike leads to my second point. Nigeria is a country where, according to all ranking systems, none of our universities is among the world’s top 1000. Even our dear University of Ibadan which prides itself as the first and the best is number 24 in Africa and 2109 in the world. Nigeria is a country where ward councillors, who may be secondary school drop-outs, earn more than diligent professors. A country where you will never find the children of your local government chairman in the same school as you. Where 10 classes may hold simultaneously in the same lecture hall. Where kerosene stoves are used by science students in lieu of Bunsen burners. Where our education system is only getting better at getting worse … and someone still has the nerve to say that the Federal Government is not blameworthy of making protest inevitable?  That ASUU ought not to have gone on strike?

Think about it. Ghana, a country not as rich as Nigeria, for this fiscal year, budgeted 31% of its total revenue to the education sector, while the “Giant of Africa” struggles to budget a meagre and disconcerting 8%.

Lastly but most importantly, Common sense and natural justice demand that FG executes the 2009 pact, and not wait for a strike. The Federal Government wilfully made a pact with ASUU in 2009, refreshed it 2012, and yet inconsiderately failed to execute it several years later. This is simply ludicrous, and blatantly contravenes common standards of professional ethics. Just as it is summed up in the Latin maxim, ‘pacta sunt servanda, quamvis absurdum.’ Meaning, agreements must be kept, contracts must be honoured, though they may be absurd.

To conclude, I’d say, it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the Federal Government is to blame for the regrettable and demoralising strike saga we witnessed last year. For in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s words, ‘salus populi suprema lex esto’, the welfare of the people is to be the supreme law. Hence, the federal government has the duty, primary responsibility, and in fact the capability to provide for the socio-academic necessities of the community. If they fail in this regard, someone has to speak up, as well-captured in the words of Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.All ASUU has done is speak up. Are we going to crucify them for this?

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are truly seeking for someone to blame, then I say it is only rational that we blame the man who had no shoes, and his cohorts.

Thank you!

 

 

ASUU IS TO BLAME!

First and foremost, ASUU’s demands are out rightly outrageous. Reading this memorandum, I came across some of the most ridiculous demands ever in the history of unionism. For instance, the unionists are clamouring for a plethora of unrealistic and undeserved allowances. Postgraduatesupervision allowance, teachingpractice/fieldtrip allowance, examiners’ honoraria, postgraduatestudy grant, Externalassessors’ allowance. Apart from these, they are also demanding for what they call fringe benefits. Vehiclerefurbishing loan, housing loan… research leave, sabbatical leave, annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave. I wonder if we will still have people to teach us if all these leaves are granted. How can a reasonable man down his tools, his main source of income, because of allowances. Allowance is allowance, not the main wage.

The music maestro, Stephen Osita Osadebe, in one of his hits said, ‘if one’s salary is not enough to meet his needs, is it allowance that will do?’ It is unthinkable that the payment of paltry sums is allowed to disrupt academic activities for several months. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Again, the ASUU/FG fracas should have been buried in previous strikes. One thing ASUU has failed to recognise is that incessant striking is not the solution to Nigeria’s educational drawback. In fact, it is one of the problems. Industrial acts are so frequent that non-Nigerians are forced to think it is an annual festival. And then, freshers are always sermonised that the years they are to spend in the university is ‘n + x’. ‘n’ being the years written in JAMB brochure while ‘x’ is the unknown, the added years as a result of strikes… Imagine, 5 months in 1999, 3 months in 2001, 6 months in 2003, 3 months in 2007, 4 months in 2009, 5 months, 1 week in 2010, 3 months in 2011, and the most recent 6 month strike, to mention a few. They all culminate into almost 3 years, yet what is there to show for it? Except, of course, more decay in the system.

Moreover, I believe ASUU has no moral standing whatsoever to embark on a strike with so much audacity. Before they start point fingers at the FG and accusing them of dereliction of duty, have they looked within. Or have we not seen lecturers who come for classes only twice in a semester? Once to give out scheme of work, and the second time to invigilate the examination. Have we not seen lecturers who use lecture notes compiled in the 1970s for students in 2014?

Last but not least, the union has no right whatsoever to disrupt the free flow of academic activities to the students’ detriment. Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr once said, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends where another man’s nose begins.’ And in Latin, ‘Tuus ius finibus ubi alterum incipit.’ You cannot take another man’s life because YOU are tired of living. Neither can you say because the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, you now slander another man with impunity. Thus, the Academic Staff Union Of Universities has no right to deprive students of their entitlement to be edified, no matter the circumstance.

No matter what is done, the 200 billion naira Federal Government handed over for the restructuring of the academia and 45 billion given as lecturers’ earned allowance, can never restore or equate with the thousands of long hours wasted in inactivity. It cannot restore the delayed graduation years, and weddings. And most particularly, it can never bring back the invaluable, lost souls.

I end with the sagacious words of Demosthenes, ‘res ipsa loquitur’; the facts speak for themselves… IF ONLY WE WILL LISTEN.

Thank you!

 

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WHO IS THE JUDGE?

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“Who is the judge?

The judge is God.

Why is he God?

Because He decides who wins or loses not my Opponent.

Who is your Opponent ?

He does not exist.

Why doesn’t he exist?

Because he is a mere dissenting voice of the truth I speak !”