By Hashim Suleiman
I have always posited that since the advent of the Nigerian democracy, it has developed by the years but this can only be observed by those who can discern enough as well those who are not lazy and expectant of only handouts as dividends of democracy. So far so good our democracy has grown to an extent where for the first time ever, no pundit can predict who will be wining the next elections in all categories of contestants.
No political party appears dominant anymore, everyone is fighting for their souls by discussing and ensuring that all the i’s have been dotted while the t’s have been crossed too.
For some of us who believe nation building is gradual and could come with its regimes of troubles and bursts, we recognize strongly that Nigeria’s democracy is growing by the day and it will naturally come with its resultant developments which like I said only the critical minded can see.
Everyone will however see it in the long term. This is against the backdrop of the fact that some others believe democracy is not the most befitting for Nigeria but to me the difference is only in the speed at which autocracy and democracy can bring about the needed development. I believe there’s more inclusiveness in a democracy even though it is slow process. The autocracy could be faster but coming with some gagging and many dichotomies.
This brings me to the fact that part of the bane of the development of individuals, institutions and processes was the lack of knowledge and understanding of the laws of the land. What you then find in the past was people’s right been trampled upon and they can’t do a thing about it because they don’t know how to.
They however forget that democracy guarantees rights which can be pulled from various laws ranging from the constitution to other legislations. It is however soothing to see that as the democracy grows, there’s continual increase in the appreciation of our laws and the rate at which people challenge such laws including their applications.
One must give kudos to INEC as they have proven to always be an institution which obeys the rules of law and court orders. Little wonder why every other election they’ve conducted has been better than previous ones and such is commendable and worthy of encouragement to continue to work by the books in delivering the elections for the good of the nation, this is not to dismiss the imperfection of humans.
Just recently, the Federal High Court sacked the Governor of Ebonyi state and ordered INEC to issue certificate of return to the PDP candidates that would be submitted by the party. Even though the Nigerias constitution did not expressly speak about defection for executives, it was important that citizens tested such a move where ones certificate of return bears another political party’s name while you’ve defected and commensurate changes have not been made to that certificate. This judgement will make those wishing to decamp in the future to have a rethink especially considering that the case has been appealed and May get up to the Supreme Court for final determination.
Remember also how certain individuals misled the President into taking an unlawful action in his party the APC by ordering the removal of the chairman even when such a move had no place in any of the laws of the party or those of the land. It took the same INEC I described above to call their attention to the illegitimacy of the action and such was reversed immediately. The party equally had to work hard to vacate a court order that existed to bar them from holding any National Convention till further notice. The appreciation of the laws of the land in these instances gives one a positive feeling to the extent that the democracy is growing and would guarantee improved participation and confidence in the system and its laws. The attorney general equally had to challenge the resignation clause in the amended electoral act 2022 and the court has made a pronouncement which has become a law as is right now.
I have had series of arguments with individuals who would wonder why I’m in politics despite been a public servant, I tell them to try and read up the laws of the land so they’ll be aware about their rights and where they stop. The constitution of the republic guarantees freedom of association and participation and equally spelt out clear terms with which a public servant can or cannot participate in a political process. A public servant is only expected to resign 30 days to his/her election and any other law or guideline that contradicts the constitution is null and void.
Finally, it was important to note that Nigerias democracy is developing and that can be consolidated with the appreciation of rights by citizens and challenging any breach of it. So far so good, there’s a clear improvement in the appreciation and application of Nigerias laws and we hope for an improvement going forward.
May God bless Nigeria