THERE is no doubt that these are hard and dubious times for the practice of the ideology of democracy globally. The popular meaning that ‘democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people ‘ is being turned into a charade by the elitism of politicians and leaders elected into government and positions of power by the electorate that is equally getting very bitter and resentful of the unfair but clear socio political situation now prevailing globally in many democracies. This is the plain fact emerging that those who wield power in many political systems do not have the interests of those who elected them at heart.
The situation has been compounded and aggravated by a global pandemic that has led to the closure of global economies and the attendant present and future economic crisis that portends. Especially now that schools have been closed and in Nigeria at least the Teachers Union has refused to go to teach until they have the enabling environment that will protect them and their pupils from the ravages of the pandemic. Which in a way is like closing the future of any nation because education and youth development is the clear future of any developed and developing nation including Nigeria.
What attracts our attention today however is the alarming information from the American military African High Command that about 9000 schools have been closed across Africa and Nigeria, and about 3000, in different African nations like Mali and Burkina Fasso by terrorist groups deliberately while they are replacing such closed schools with teachings and proclamations of their own terrorist Ideology. The US African High Command named the terrorist groups as Islamic State, Al Quada , Boko Haram and Al Shabaab .This is in addition to the past kidnappings in Nigeria of the Chibok and Dapchi school girls, their sexual violations and cooption as wives and allies of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria .
According to a virtual media security briefing this week Major General Dagvin Anderson, Commander of the US Special Operations Africa lamented what l have always written about for some time now, that terrorists are taking over control of both the vast NE and NW of Nigeria and there is need for this to stop. The American general noted in particular that terrorists were bent on ‘ hijacking the minds of the leaders of tomorrow ‘ in Africa generally and Nigeria in particular. The Americans are therefore lamenting the irresponsibility of our leaders and politicians in turning a blind eye to the future education of our youths, our future, while literally condoning terrorism in our midst.
However the recent attack on the convoy of the Borno State governor in Baga and his indignant charge of military sabotage, which has been denied by the military high command, illustrates roundly our democratic lack of leadership accountability on stopping terrorism militarily. In denying the accusation of sabotage by the Borno State Governor the military high command said it has the men , resources and equipment to stop the terrorists and it has no inferiority complex on achieving its goal. So who is going to stop the terrorists in our brand of democracy that spends a lot on elections and the maintenance of our sprawling expensive legislative and presidential apparatus but has no sense of responsibility and accountability in saving the future of our education and our youths, from the scourge of terrorism and the spread of its militant ideology in our land by Boko Haram, Islamic State and Al Qada ? Surely we should not be told that in asking this question we are like the proverbial dog barking in vain at the moon, because in doing so we put our stability, peace and democracy in jeopardy.
Let us now look at other travails and vagaries of democracy this week that show clearly that it is suffering not only domestic violence from those who should protect it from abuse and misuse but also make it an example of the rule of law both conceptually and contextually. We look at the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association elections and the emergence of a non Senior Advocate of Nigeria as president , and the recent attempt by the US president to post pone the coming November 2020 US presidential election.
The NBA election of a lawyer who is not a silk or SAN and the consequent charge of rigging by some lawyers is good evidence that the so called learned men are not immune to undemocratic practices. Indeed this disagreement on the election results in the NBA is to be expected as a hazard of the practice of election litigation in Nigeria at which our SANs are so prolific that they will take a case even against the Almighty if the fee is right. But on this particular occasion crass elitism and an effective repugnance of this by the majority made sure that a SAN was not elected . Indeed I think the SANs who thought a SAN should lead the NBA forgot that legal knowledge or erudition is not at all democratic and is not a game of numbers as in the last NBA election or any election for that matter . Legal brilliance in any case or any court has nothing to do with professional honors or even experience. It is a personal genius or wisdom that comes to play when any lawyer performs a ‘Daniel Come To Judgement ‘ as the young lady lawyer Portia did on the shedding of a pound of flesh without blood in Shakespeare’s famous ‘ Merchant of Venice.’ Legal brilliance and genius should not be mistaken for legal honors as it does not follow or is non sequitur that SANs are more professional and better than non SANs in legal practice and that is what the majority has shown in electing a non SAN as President of the NBA. The election result which is predicated on majority indignation against the SANs has shown that ‘ ambition should be made of sterner stuff ‘as Shakespeare wrote and as the men in silk know so well- that ‘ He who comes to equity must come with clean hands‘
On the issue of postponement of the US presidential election in November suggested by President Donald Trump, I think he just tried to fly a kite that would not take off. He knew he has no such powers and he knew he would be accused of attempting to elongate his tenure which is undemocratic. For someone who has expressed admiration for the life presidency of China’s strongman President Xi Ping just recently, the American president shot himself in the leg for inordinate ambition for even mooting the idea of election postponement. Again, given the fact that the Russian president, Vladmir Putin , who Trump’s detractors and opponents think helped him win in 2016, has just extended his tenure , literally ad infinitum , in Russia, Donald Trump exposed himself and his election to the charge of ‘evil communication corrupts good manners ‘on his well known Putin affinity and admiration. Anyway, while I do not pity the American president for his self inflicted political wounds and democratic gaffes, I admire his brave attempts to make sure the schools in America are open and are secured with funds and hygiene observations because he believes America should not toy with its future on education, in spite of the raging pandemic that is putting his reelection at great risk. Once again – From the fury of this raging pandemic, Good Lord Deliver Nigeria.