Nigeria’s democracy at 20:  The gains and the pains

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Beyond the fanfare of the June 12  Democracy Day, marking the 20th democratic governance in Nigeria, experts have continued to count the gains and pains the globally accepted best form of government has brought to Nigeria. Though Democracy Day has always been celebrated on May 29 since 1999 when the present democratic dispensation was birthed,…

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20 years of democracy: Nigeria hampered by political dynasties

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Nigeria has had a tortuous journey back to democracy from the ashes of military rule that ended in 1999.

The dynastic rule of the military had created deleterious political vestiges co-opted by the political players as soon as the nation returned to civil rule and this has led to politicians in collaboration with the traditional institutions and the high echelon of the civil service to create political fiefdoms in order to capture the resources of the state to appropriate and consume.

Some of these dynasties have had a succession of leaders at both the states and national levels started by a political patriarch from a certain family or region and later succeeded either by their wives or children.

The Tinubu Dynasty

Perhaps one of the most prominent political dynasties in Nigeria’s democratic experience is the political empire of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the acclaimed national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Tinubu bestrides the political landscape of Lagos state like a colossus.  He emerged as governor of the state in 1999. He served two terms and then handed over power to his handpicked successor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who he supported to also do two terms as governor between 2007 and 2015.

The fact that the Jagaban of Borgu as he is fondly called exerted enormous influence was not in doubts when he became the indisputable kingmaker in the state. In 2015, Tinubu installed the recently out-gone governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode and was the arrowhead of those who dislodged the government of President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre in 2015. The beneficiaries of his stupendous political leverage are current President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, another acolyte of Tinubu.

Through his political shrewdness, Tinubu also imposed …

How democracies die

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It takes years to build an architectural masterpiece but only hours to destroy it. The same can be said of democracy. Democracy has been described by the British political philosopher Michael Oakeshott as a part of “the great conversation of mankind”. A rather awkward and sometimes chaotic conversation. War-time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described it as “the worst system of government – except for the others”.

Two scholars from Harvard’s revered Department of Government, Steven Levistky and Daniel Ziblatt, have tried to show us how to kill a democracy be degrees: How Democracies Die (Penguin 2019). The key message is that twenty-first century democracies are in mortal danger. The rise of populism in Europe and the emergence of Donald Trump in the United States spell trouble for democracy as we’ve known it in the liberal West. The authors draw insightful lessons from Pinochet in Chile to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Erdogan in Turkey to paint a grim tapestry of how democracies are killed by authoritarian leaders.

In the twentieth century fascist demagogues like Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy used the democratic process to climb up the greasy pole of power, after which they kicked away the ladder. In the case of Germany, the pre-war Weimar Constitution, according to historian Golo Mann, was one of the best constitutional documents in the annals of civil government. But constitutional writs in themselves do not protect against tyranny. In January 1933 Hitler and the National Socialists won elections through a democratic process and then proceeded to dismantle all democratic institutions, muzzling the process and bullying opponents into submission.

One of the first people who saw through the entire evil scheme was a young theologian barely in his twenties by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. … Read More...

May 29: Army alleges plots by Nigerians, foreign elements to scuttle democracy

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The Nigerian Army on Saturday raised alarm over alleged plans by some Nigerians who are conniving with foreigners to scuttle the country’s democracy and May 29th inauguration.

The Army, in a statement, alleged that these group of persons are making concerted efforts inducing ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorists and bandits with funds and other logistic supports.

Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Sagir Musa, a Colonel, said in the statement that the group is “determined to cause mischief and exacerbate the security situation in this country in particular and West African sub-region.”

“Their body language and unguarded utterances seem to be in tandem with the above and imply tacit support for the criminals. For example, credible source has shown that some individuals are hobnobbing with Boko Haram terrorists, while others are deliberately churning falsehood against the security agencies with a view to setting the military against the people and the government,” the Army spokesman said.

“They are also demoralising troops and security agencies through false accusations and fake news. Therefore, it has become necessary to inform the public and warn such persons and groups to desist as the consequences of their actions would be calamitous to themselves and our great country.”

Musa said added: “Some of these mischievous elements thought that we would not have safe and successful general elections, but were proved wrong, hence they want to derail the scheduled handing over later this month and to scuttle the democratic process in the country.”

He said the Army had similarly observed that “foreign interests are also working assiduously to cause disaffection and divide the coalition Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to give room for the so-called Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and its defeated local franchise, Boko Haram terrorists group to resurrect.”

Musa said in …