By SUNNY IKHIOYA
AS the 2023 elections continue to unravel, many of the participants are already rushing to the courts. So, we will be witnessing what I will like to describe as judiocracy, which means government of the judiciary or the courts. It is different from judiocracy, which is linked to President Putin’s Russia because of his love and practice of the judo sport. Unfortunately, in this kind of democracy, it is not the people’s will that ultimately prevails; some will be elected on simple matters such as judicial technicalities.
That is the challenge we face as a nation, stepping into another realm of civil rule. If democracy is useful to a people, to the extent that it has been made to accommodate ordinary citizens, and this is lacking in an election process, such a process must be properly looked into and, if necessary, a thorough review and overhaul carried out. Situations where our elections are unable to give us a generally accepted leadership, should be something for all to ponder upon. Unfortunately, the alternative to flawed elections is recourse to the law court.
This is already happening, with over 100 cases and more already filed in various courts against the outcomes of the elections. But is that the solution? Happenings in our land have caused many people to lose faith in our judiciary. The references are many: the fourth can become the winner, as it happened in the Imo governorship case.We also have the examples of how Lawan and Akpabio became senators-elect for the next session. Anything can happen in our courts, and, I believe that is why the OBIdients are hopeful. The crises we are experiencing now were all avoidable in the first place. Why did INEC not state clearly its position regarding the 25 per cent required votes for the FCT? Mike Igini, a former INEC state commissioner, drew everyone’s attention to it but it was taken for granted. It should have been properly spelled out, and the consequence of this is that no matter the outcome of the court decisions, people will still feel cheated. That is the challenge of deciding our democracy through court decisions; when this method is allowed to thrive, the power of the people to choose their own leaders is undermined.
The danger is that the choice of over 100 million eligible Nigerians will be decided by about nine Supreme Court Justices, whose main qualifications is that they are lawyers and judges. This cannot be a true reflection of democracy, and if this trend is allowed to continue, democracy is dead in Nigeria. What is critical about the Nigerian version of democracy? Is it the system, the structure, or the people? Can we really practise democracy the way it was meant to be practised?
We have discussed it in the past: Nigeria has to be restructured before a truly free and fair election can be realised at the presidential level. The centre is too heavy, with total control of the security architecture and apparatuses. Our security will align with the position of the person in control of the centre. We recall, in the struggle for the APC ticket, how some people contacted our security chiefs to meet the president for instructions on who his preferred candidate is. We are made to understand that he asked them to go and ensure a free and fair election. That is the kind of power the one at the helm of affairs in Nigeria possesses. Even at that, the Federal Government is still being accused of complicity in the shortcomings witnessed during the 2023 elections in some states. The way and manner some governors manipulated the March 18 elections leave much to be desired, with protesters, including half-clad women, demanding that their choice candidates be enthroned.
Our present structure has made such anomalies to thrive. With regards to politics and elections in Nigeria today, most Nigerians are not enlightened, they do not know their basic rights and are unaware of the fact that those they elect into office will invariably determine their well-being for the period they will be in government.
A good example is the naira redesign policy and the actions that have made fuel scarcity persist in the midst of abundant crude oil in our land. So, more education and enlightenment are required of the people. Against the backdrop of the elections which most observers regard as being flawed, there is need for people to be more enlightened; it is difficult for rigging to take place when there are enlightened people to defend their votes. I also believe that we should begin to decentralise our democratic processes, especially with regards to the presidential and national assembly elections. This is because as presently constituted, we cannot say those who are there now are truly representatives of the people.
As a solution to eradicating the huge cost of our unwieldy democracy, which brings in people who are really not the true people’s representatives, we should make our elections local. Every ethnic group – we have more than 240 indigenous groups – must be allowed to choose their own representatives, in a truly democratic manner. These representatives will be the ones to choose from amongst themselves who will be President of the country; they will also have the right to remove him from office through a vote of no confidence if he is not living up to expectations.
We should make our democratic process very simple; it is presently unwieldy and wasteful. Every ethnic nation must have a representative in parliament and be involved in the collective decisions of government; that way, we will be tilting towards achieving a true nation-state status. In the same way, the federating units will be granted the necessary powers to administer their areas of jurisdiction, including the resources lying within as they deem fit. In summary, it is imperative for the election processes to be made as simple as possible, to be free, fair and inclusive of every true Nigerian.
*IIkhioya wrote via: www.southsouthecho.com
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