Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nigeria: Democracy in Inaction

Democracy is a two-way road; where the elected and the electorate work together to create a political system that constantly seeks ways and means to improve the lot of the society in general.

Democracy, despite its limitations, is the only system of government that offers the electorate the most value for their votes. Mediocre and lackluster politicans will invoke the wrath of the electorate come election day and get voted out of office and power. Simple. Maybe it isn't this simple in a place like Nigeria where votes are often bought or created depending on the circumstances. Thus it is no surprise that after the almost eight years of democracy in Nigeria, several social infrastructure still remain moribund just as they were during the military era.

For example, flooding is a perennial problem in major Nigerian cities. Flooding occurs not because of hurricane or tropical storms, but mainly because of two reasons: blocked drainage systems (if one exist) and poor urban planning.

Urban planning has failed in the majority of Nigerian cities and townships because residents have often ignored city ordinances and building codes- which city officials have also been failed to enforce, for decades. The culmulative effect is a collapsed urban infrastructure which is captured in part by the pictures above showing a flooded major highway in the city of Ibadan, South west Nigeria.

These pictures show that two-way communication and governance model on which democracy is built is vaguely understood by both the electorate and the elected in the Nigeria.

Should one be seeing these events in a democratic society? Isn't it troubling that somehow in a democratic Nigeria, the elected have gone blind to the basic needs of their constituencies, just as the electorate has gone mute in demanding a better deal from those they (supposedly) voted in.

Nigerians will be going to the polls yet again come April 27 2007; we need to understand and appreciate the huge responsibility democracy has bestowed on us, and it is my hope that this time around the Nigerian electorate gets to exercise its civic duties diligently and with all moral consciousness.

To be continued.