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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INSECURITY AND AMNESTY: A JOLLY RIDE TO LAWLESSNESS

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ABDUL FATTAH ADEBAJO ADEKUNLE, LAW, 100 LEVEL

Winner of the 1434AH superior pen writing competition

[Published on pages 38 and 39 of Adh-Dhikr Magazine, February, 2014]

Written: several months back…

At times, I wonder how it is that we find ourselves in the current predicament. What have we done or failed to do as a nation that causes us to deserve this ‘punishment’? Are Nigerians that distinct from those in other lands, that we are bedevilled with insecurity?

It is quite demoralising that, today, the word ‘Nigeria’ is coterminous and equated with fear, insecurity and loss of lives. Nigeria is, today, a no man’s land. No tourist wishes to see our mouth-watering cultural artefacts. No company holder dares attempt to extend his investment to Nigeria. In fact, the ones already here are, so to say, running for their dear lives. That is not all; presidents and government officials now publicly announce their apprehension in paying Nigeria a visit. A quintessential instance is the recent case whereby President Obama of the United States visited African nations such as Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and deliberately put Nigeria aside.

The pivotal genesis of their lugubrious status-quo is not far-fetched. It all started with militant activities in the Niger-Delta region, which perhaps was made possible during the civil war of 1967-1970 that left myriad arms in the hands of individuals. As an offshoot, we also have innumerable cases of high-profile kidnappings; those being most rampant in the South East and South West on the other hand are infamous for harbouring petty thieves and notorious armed robbers. With the intervention of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s regime, the militants in the Niger-Delta, and activities of MEND were considerably checked. This was mainly due to the introduction of amnesty, which is a process in which violent individuals are disarmed in exchange for education, employment or wealth. This recession brought untold joy unto the hearts of Nigerians, but little did we know that we are yet to get to the end of the beginnings of the burdensome quest.

In 2009, a group popularly referred to as Boko-Haram came into the limelight. Jama’atul Ahlis-Sunna lidda’awati wal-jihad (Boko-Haram) is believed to have originated from the activities of Maitatsine in the 1970s and 80s. its fame also rose when Mallam Alli was heading it around 1995. Thereafter, he passed the leadership to Muhammad Yusuf, a radical whose extra-judicial death in 2009 gave rise to the blood thirsty side of Boko-Haram and the death of more than 10,000 Nigerians – most of the innocent.

The federal government has for too long a time turned a blind eye to the activities of the sect, allegedly because some of the members have rich backgrounds with links to top government officials. However when the situation appears to be getting out control, albeit it never was in control; the government deemed it fit to offer a friendly arm to the sect; taking as precedent the Niger-Delta militants saga. This offer was, sadly and unexpectedly, harshly turned down, with the remarks that it is the government that actually needs amnesty.

Relentless, President Goodluck Jonathan shows that he is still ‘on top of the situation’ by putting to use another trick up his sleeve, a declaration of the state of emergency. This he did on May 14, 2013 in four states of the federation including Adamawa, Bornu and Yobe states. He imposed a 24-hour curfew in these states and sent thousands of military personnel, with the aim of fishing out and crushing the sect members. In addition, telecommunication and GSM were disabled to disorganise the sect. despite the strict measures, we still hear incidents of bombing (of religious institutions and market places); a very fresh case is the killing of juveniles in Yobe by setting a school ablaze. Up to 20 people were reportedly killed. Those who fled from the inferno were shotdown in cold blood. This is to point out that, truly, no real progress have been made.

All said and done, what can we say is the panacea to this precarious situation? The answer to this is very simple, but the implementation, not quite so. Indubitably, the root cause of Boko-Haram and other shapes insecurity is taking in Nigeria is simple and straightforward: poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. In the case of Nigeria, these are most obtainable in the North.

At this juncture, it would be apt to cite one of the remarks of a famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle – he said: ‘poverty is the parent of revolution and violence’. A hungry man does not think of anything but his hunger; and an idle hand, they say, is the devil’s workshop. The only rational explanation for a case in which a teenager in Lagos killed another individual with a knife for 10,000 naira is poverty.

I hereby submit that no level of military expedition or amnesty can salvage us from our predicament; Muhammad Yusuf was able to gain supporters and disciples because people were ignorant and because he strongly preached against corruption and police brutality. Thus, if we must restore sanity, safety and self-dignity in this nation we must set out to tackle corruption, fight illiteracy, and combat poverty with all available means, lest the aftermath becomes ineluctable: a jolly ride to lawlessness.

CURBING IMMORALITIES AND DEGRADING TENDENCIES

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CURBING IMMORALITIES AND DEGRADING TENDENCIES.

More than 14 hundred years ago, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) foretold of a time when there will be widespread corruption, men will mate with men and women with women, wars and homicides will be on the high[1], female singers and musical instruments will become popular, nations will be ruled by the worst of their citizens[2]. A time when adultery will be committed openly and with impunity[3]. A time of chaos, when normality will become abnormal, when good deeds will be frowned at and evils rewarded. A time, of ‘immoralities and degrading tendencies.’ Sad to say that that time is here. It is staring us in the face, poking its filth into our lives and it has, in fact, managed to gain our acquiescence.

These days, a lot of upsetting spectacles meet my eyes that I fear they will sink in, in shame and disgust. No day passes without one being greeted with depressing news reports. If it is not of a man getting married to a dog[4] or of a union of prostitutes fighting for their right to operate openly[5], it will be of ‘men’ of God and school principals defiling children young enough to pass as their grandkids[6]. The situation, no doubt, is not just getting out of hand; it has already got out of hand. However, is it so bad to have gone beyond redemption? To this, I reply again with the words of Prophet Muhammad: ‘there is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.’ [7] Thus, for every problem, no matter how seemingly gigantic, there is a solution. So what is the solution to this pressing problem? How may we curb the immoralities that have enveloped our society?

Allah says in the Qur’an; ‘surely Allah does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts[8]. This verse is similar to the age-old saying that ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’, and it goes to show the importance of self-evaluation and individual development to societal reformation. And like a Greek philosopher [9] once said; ‘the city is what it is because our citizens are what they are.’ In other words, the change has to start from every individual, if we are ever going to get anywhere. We all need to collectively resolve to know what is evil, shun it and return to the will of our Lord.

In addition to this, the family also has a key role to play in this movement. It is widely acknowledged among scholars that the first agent of socialisation is the family. Whether a child will grow up to be an ‘Abu Bakr’ or an ‘Abu Lahab’ is primarily a function of his/her background. Today, the family system has become a shadow of its former self. We are in a world where fathers are busy 24 hours with sustaining the family. And mothers, whose duty it is to look after the home, are even busier than the family head. We are in a world where the closest companion of the young ones is not the chest of their mothers but that of teddy bears. We are in a world where majority of what children learn is got from social networks. In such a world, how can immorality not skyrocket beyond our control? Hence, we will achieve nothing unless we restore the efficacy of the family.

Finally, it is the case that all other establishments can merely recommend what is appropriate; only the government of the day that can enforce it. It only, can legitimately penalise what is wrong and harmonise legality with morality. If after all is said and done and we still have persons who contravene the common ethical code of the society, then the corrective hand of the law is needed to restore balance, effect justice and eradicate corruption from the land.

I wish to conclude by citing the flawless words of Allah (SWT) in the Holy Qur’an where He says: ‘Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what  is wrong, and believing in Allah[10].’ Therefore, each and every one of us must take it as our responsibility to do good, enjoin good and forbid evil. We must all strive to put an end to the immoralities and degrading tendencies in our society, lest they be the one to put an end to us.

REFERENCE
1. Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6903.
2. Narrated by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, in At-Tirmidhi.
3. Ibn Hibban and Al-Bazzar.
4. California Allows First Ever state Recognised Human-Animal Marriage: http://nationalreport.net/california-allows-first-ever-state-recognized-human-animal-marriage/ and Woman Marries Dog In Romantic Wedding Ceremony: http://mirror.co.uk/news/wierd-news/woman-marries-dog-romantic-wedding-3225948
5. Nigerian Prostitutes Demand Recognition: NEWS EXPRESS and Nigerian Prostitutes Strike: “We Demand Our Rights”: Pulse Nigeria, http://pulse.ng/gist/we-demand-our-rights-id2713674.html
6. ‘Pastor Raped Me Countless Times’ – Victim Tells Court: Nigerian Eye, published March 4, 2014 and Pastor Rapes 9-Year Old Girl: P.M. NEWS Nigeria, published July 29, 2010.
7.Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 582.
8. Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rad, 13:11. Translated by Yusuf Ali.
9. Dialogues of Plato.
10 .Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran, 3:110. Translated by Yusuf Ali.

IN A LAND…

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In A Land…

Where The People Do Not Trust Their Government.
And The Government Does Not Care About The 99 Percent.

Where The Elders Are Pessimistic Of The Juvenile.
And The Youths Are Weary Of The Senile.

Where Religious Institutions Are Bedevilled With Things Immoral.
And Schools Turn Out Many A Rascal.

Where Bad News Meet Our Eyes Every Single Day.
And Poor Lives Are Lost In The Most Preposterous Ways.

…I Find Myself Asking, Where Does Our Hope Lie ? 😦

[Just stumbled across this piece while going through my note. I’ve written it several months back. Hope you benefitted from it?]