When asked to define democracy, many give the most common and easy to remember definition which is ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people.’ Though this definition isn’t accepted by all, it explains the basic and most important tenet of democracy which is ‘People’. Aside from the defined territory, Sovereignty and legitimate government, the existence and recognition of a state as a sovereign and political entity is strengthened by the presence of human population.
In other words, a geographical area without the presence of a human population cannot be recognized as a state. Even in the animal kingdom, the lion cannot be the king if it has no subject to rule over. For there to be a government, there has to be a people who directly or indirectly get involved in the affairs of the state.
The struggle and nationalist movement for self-governance and freedom came with the promise of a better Nigeria. The people, in this case Nigerians, were mobilized and encouraged to join in the campaign and fight for independence. Innovative mediums were used to compel Britain to relinquish power to indigenes. Before 1960, preparations had kick-started for the inevitable as the pressure had forced the British colonial masters to shift grounds and permit an end to colonialism in Nigeria. October 1960 then became a historical moment which was made possible by the unified voice of Nigerians to agitate for self-governance.
Post-independence, Nigerians then witnessed coups and counter coups which plundered the country into civil war and threatened the peace of the state. The once united people then began seeing themselves along ethnic lines and this became a tool which political gladiators utilized to gain economic and political status. Since the strong unifying bond had been weakened, Nigerians gradually lost interest in governance and found succour in religion hence the need to pray for Nigeria and leave all in the hands of God/Allah. This disinterest from governance and plundering of Nigeria’s resources by a few elites who had access to it then resulted in a decline of economic growth and infrastructural decadence, thereby resulting in the increase of corruption.
In other to gain power and access the state treasury, political lords and masters stalled wealth creation and this led to an increase in poverty. To control Nigerians, politicians weaponized poverty and oppressed masses with the wealth stolen from government purses. The people had to do the bidding of the rich so as to be able to gain access to the basic life amenities. Since the people have become disinterested and unbothered about the destructive actions of those they elected to better their lots but have worsened the economy and enriched themselves, they (Nigerians) have learnt and mastered the act of adaption.
From the outcome of recent events and occurrences, many ask if there is hope for the country they love but doubt they can give their lives for. Made to choose between life and death, the people have chosen the former and adhered to the call by prophets to pray for Nigeria instead. As seen in the print and online, the democratic balance of the state is now under intense scrutiny and attack.
However, the question asked is, what can we do? With obvious and visible anomalies tactically creeping into our polity, many fear this will become the way of life and plunge Nigeria back into the days of war and tears. Rather than take a stand, many are in search of ways to leave the country and go to the developed world forgetting that at a point, citizens of those countries had to be patriotic and fight for the country the love.
Many might ask, what’s in Nigeria to fight for, well the simple answer is everything. Now that our democracy is under attack by those we elected, it’s high time we found that unifying voice utilized while agitating for independence to demand accountability and progressive governance. Nigeria is our fatherland and we must fight and defend her.