By Dr. Godalex Ezeani
I read with great delight and awe the ancient Athenian concerns for the efficient working of their democracy; history has it that modern democracy started in Athens, Greece. The Athenians were able to meticulously articulate that for their democracy to function well, there has to be some reasonable economic buoyancy amongst her citizens. The expectation is for the citizens not to unnecessarily overwork themselves in their life’s pursuits just to satisfy their basic needs. This is because for the citizens to participate fully in their country’s democracy, they should be able to have times for leisure, relaxation and meditation. When people are poverty stricken, they tend to lose touch with their political duties and obligations to the State; they will have low morale, negative attitudes towards political participation and engagement. All their concerns would be focused on being able to put food on their table; for themselves and their families. So, they are forced to become workaholics. They cannot afford not to work every single minute of their lives, or else they go hungry.
The situation in Nigeria today exposes the ugly reality that too many citizens are unable to provide three square meals for their families, and consequently are incapable of meaningful participation in the country’s politics and democratic process. The dangerous part of the whole situation is that Nigeria’s leaders and politicians seem to indulge and crave for such abnormalities in order to take advantage of the electorate to achieve their selfish goals. The Nigeria’s leadership seems to masterfully and cunningly impoverish her peoples, and then use them to ascend to political positions of power using fake promises of economic emancipation. That is why it is very easy for these corrupt politicians to buy votes with two hundred naira per electorate; as was the case in a Nigeria’s voting booth very recently.
The poor and ignorant Nigerians happily collected the paltry sums and smiled away thinking they have collected their own “democratic dividend”, without realizing they just mortgaged their lives to perpetual penury and perfidy. While Nigeria’s politicians should be ashamed of themselves for looting the country’s treasury, and perpetuating poverty on the people, the citizens should take responsibility for their own actions and must come to the realization that they are the employers, the politicians are their employees, and that their ability to vote their conscience is their power and the key to control the affairs of the country. Like the ancient Athenians, Nigerians should work tirelessly towards good governance that provides equitable economic and social system to all citizens, where the peoples are economically buoyant enough, and not too stressed out in their overtly pursuits to satisfy their basic life’s needs.
In a country where elections are fair, and votes are counted without deceit, it would be very easy to vote out and replace irresponsible politicians with honorable ones who stand by good governance that benefit the masses. However, the masses have got to fight to restore the credibility of the electoral system as a viable means of electing honest politicians that are dedicated to serving them.