Why our democracy is under threat

There is indeed a terrible misappropriation of political progressivism  in Nigeria as seen in the voluble and unguarded pronouncements of leading members of the major opposition political party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as preparations for the 2015 general elections gather momentum. It is now common knowledge that the governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was quoted as saying at the Salvation Rally of APC in Abuja recently that the party would form a parallel government should the outcome of the 2015 Presidential election not favor it. Amaechi went as far as saying that his party would spearhead civil disobedience in the country if they lose the election. Aside from that, there are also such volatile statements made by other leading members of the APC as its national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who postulated that: “If we do not see any discernible change of attitude on the part of the government, then we will move to the next stage on the list of actions that our party intends to take to stop the rot being perpetuated by the PDP-led Federal Government.”

Given these unsavory comments by so-called ‘democrats’ and ‘progressives’, it has indeed become too evident that the greatest obstacle to Nigeria’s political advancement which has culminated in its socio-economic underdevelopment, is the absence of sportsmanship on the part of our politicians to accept defeat at the polls. It is this same dilemma that brought about the fall of the First Republic, the abrupt end of the Second Republic and the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election won by the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola. It is probable that this menace has assumed a conceptual historical trend in the country. The 1964 Western regional election crisis that culminated in the 1966 military coup was the handiwork of opposition politicians. In the political upheaval that buried the First Republic, the Northern traditionalists lost power to modernist members of the dominant class- administrators, military officers, members of the learned professions and businessmen- in their part of the country. This was what enhanced the cohesion of the dominant class in Nigeria as a whole. Ever since, dominant class interest has remained the name of the game. Even in the Second Republic, the National Party of Nigeria, the main political vehicle of the conservative class was by far more practicable and viable than the Conservative party of the First Republic. It was also by far the most broadly based of the five major parties of the Second Republic.

The avowedly socialistic Unity Party of Nigeria and the more avowedly Marxian socialist People’s Redemption Party were exceptionally well run parties as were the Nigerian People’s Party and its twin, the Great Nigerian People’s Party. But in spite of their individual progressive bent and populist swagger, none of these parties threatened to unleash violence on the nation because it failed to control the central government. Of course, it was glaring that our politicians are bad losers who would not brook any nimbling in calling for the removal of a democratically elected government if electoral fortunes fail to favor them. But where has that taken the country to? The Second Republic opposition politicians bribed the military to overthrow the Shagari government in December 1983. Did the military spare the states controlled by the opposition parties? Were the opposition governors not hurled into various prison terms as well as their colleagues in the ruling party by the Buhari/Idiagbon military junta some of who died shortly after they were released from prison? Even when the opposition politicians of the Babangida still-born transition instigated the military to annul the June 12, 1993 election won by the Social Democratic Party, were they not forced into self exile by the Abacha junta that succeeded the Babangida administration?

If the military had allowed the Shagari government to wobble and fumble until they were able to hone their politics to a considerable art, Nigeria would have been in the league of the world’s medium powers and industrialized nations like the United Arab Emirate, Malaysia or India. The political crisis in India, for instance, which resulted to the assassination of her Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Ghandi and the eventual assassination of her son and successor, Rajiv Ghandi, by a separatist wing of the party did not spur the Indian military high command to come to the centre stage of that nation’s politics until the politicians were able to sort out themselves. Today, India exports over half a million scientists annually to the SiliconValley of the United States who manufacture made-in-US goods. This is the result of political stability in a developing country. India gained political independence from Britain in 1947. But that country could achieve so much in the past 67 years because, unlike Pakistan, its closest neighbors, Indian military allowed politicians to make their mistakes until they consolidated the democratic advancement of their country.
So, those politicians who are desperate to capture power for the sake of it must be stopped before it is too late.

Amor is an Abuja-based journalist and public affairs analyst

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