Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest run of democracy since 1960 when it gained indepedence from the British government and as much as the elections bringing in successive governments have flawed in the process, the system has not been truncated by the military.
Democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people and Nigeria currently practices a representative democracy whereby not every decision is carried out by the people directly but by its representative in the National Assembly. What this simply entails is that if there is any suppression of this representative, then the people are being suppressed thereby defiling what democracy really stands for.
Democracy becomes fully effective when there is respect for the rule of law and a clear separation of powers so as to allow effective check and balance between the executive, judiciary and legislative.
The nascent democracy in Nigeria is currently under threat if we are to go by the definitions stated above as the executive arm led by President Buhari is currently exerting undue influence on the other arms of the government.
Firstly, the president Buhari led government has refused to obey the order of the court to set former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dansuki, free despite numerous orders. The move by the government is a clear violation of the rule of law and the supremacy of it. The executive arm is to carry out orders from the court after being passed by the legislative but in the case of Dansuki, the law is being made to come second.
It is a widely believed that Dansuki was somehow involved in the coup that ended Buhari’s regime in 1985 and hence its kind of a vandetta against him, but should personal issues come in the way of the rule of law?
The attorney general of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in his defence on why President Buhari won’t release him said Dansuki is responsible for over 100,000 deaths and also diverting $2.1bn and now the question is, has the president sentenced Dansuki already cause the federal government seems to be playing both the role of the judiciary and the executive in the case.
Also worthy of note is the continued detention of the leader of Shiites in the country, El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenatudeen despite being granted bail by the court who also ordered their immediate and unconditional release.
The trial judge also fined the Federal Government N50 million for the incarceration of the duo. But they have been in detention since December 2015 and one wonders if the executive has assumed the role of the judiciary in sentencing citizens as this brings us to the question is our democracy under attack?.
The legislative arm led by Bukola Saraki has also had its fair share of the rascality from the executive. Following the emergence of the former Kwara governor as the senate president and Dogara as the speaker of the house against the decision of the ruling All Progressive Congress, it has been a thug of war.
In what took many Nigeria political watchers by surprise, the mace which is the symbol of authority in the national assembly was stolen in broad day light in the presence of multiple cameras and security agents. The scary part of it is that the security agencies which is controlled by the executive has not held anyone accountable despite video evidence. The meaning of this is that, if such happens in the executive, its a coup and we are forced to believe a coup took place in the legislative arm and nobody could be apprehended.
This leaves us with one of two conclusions, either the executive sponsored the move or sympathetic to the move as they are the ones to provide security to the legislative and this solely its on them.
Nigeria democracy is characterized by frequent defection by politicians in a bid to suit their interest and surely no law forbids them to and it was shocking when a deliberate move was made to stall defection of members, as the Senate president and his deputy were held under siege at their residence and one begs to wonder if we are in a military rule were one can’t express his wish or freedom of association as guaranteed by the constitution.
There have been numerous cases against the head of the legislation which some court rulings have called an abuse of process and at the end, he emerged victoriously, the question now is, should party’s wish be held above the constitution? If the executive arm is made to target presumed enemies, it defeats the aim of democracy.
The judicial arm also had its fair share of the executive rascality as judges were picked up by the DSS, nobody is above the law and not even judges but attaining the height in law calls for a little respect unless the aim is to instill fear and not sanitize the judiciary. Judges were picked up from their residence like common criminals and one begs to wonder if the judges were invited and they turned down the invite and hence the need to arrest.
The judiciary ought to be an independent arm of the government without any form of influence either from the legislative or executive but in our democracy it seems to be different.
The importance of a credible opposition can never be overemphasized as it checkmates the government in power not to be excessive and to always set out policies that would benefit the common man.
Without mincing words the present government has been all out against any form of opposition or anybody that tends not to align with any of its policy.
This government won the election after notable members from the present main opposition(Peoples Democratic Party) decamped to the now ruling party( All Progressive Congress). The government has released many numerous lists of corrupt politicians in the country since 2015 when it assumed office with no notable member of its party among despite the notable defection from the alleged criminal PDP and one begs to wonder if this is a ploy to silence the opposition or truly a fight against corruption. Cases involving anyone presumed to be an enemy of the government is speedily tried and those involving members of the ruling party never make headway(former SGF, Ikoyi millions, NNPC scandal and many more)
Finally, Nigerians are worried if this trend is made to continue, the country would gradually turn back to military days which it laboured for years to quit as there is a total disregard for the rule of law and a determined mission to silent the opposition.
This are symptoms of an attack on the nation’s democracy which if allowed would spell doom for the country