By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
Totalitarianism or repressive governments are increasingly subjects of immense concern in the strides of African states to an enduring political stability and quality social and economic development. In fact an affirmative politics has been made difficult by pillorying of divergent expressions, stifling of freedom of expressions, association and fair political contests by the rulers. The elections that are supposed to open more windows of opportunities of integral growth and the sustainability usually become ventilators of chaos, destructions and deaths of the citizens. This is because elections are conducted and votes won according to strength of arms and fire powers of the contestants. At the end, it is the victory of the winner and not of the people. The winner takes all, and nothing is left. This situation provides the contexts for disempowerment of the citizens by means of wrong economic plans and social ‘stress’.
Economic policies can be wrong by implications and definitions if they care for and protect only the rapacious needs of the rulers and the acolytes over against the citizens. And when policies or programmes of the government create frictions among the people, the government has an instrument of keeping the citizens divided as they threaten and fight one another continuously. The social stress can be an active factor making situation difficult for the people to unite against bad governance. Economic deprivations and social turbulence are subtle structures of political disfranchisement. This hypothesis is confirmed in Nigeria and in every other nation-states whose political and institutional powers were raided and appropriated by nefarious bandits.
Totalitarianism is leadership system devoid of partnership with the people, ‘sole rulership’. ‘Sole rulership’ is likened to a leader that vigorously carries on without the assent and collaboration of the subjects. This style of leadership characterizes nations conquered in absolute terms by the ones in command and who intended never to relinquish power in spite of the cost. In the terrain of this nature, it repudiates the dictators firm cleave to power to support liberal political atmospheres, competitive politics and free, fair and credible electoral processes. The reasons are well known, fair and credible electoral processes undermine, profoundly, the tyrants’ determination to remain in power and in total control.
In authoritarian or oppressive system, elections are basically ritualistic tools to redeem the images of botched politics and legitimize the firm grips on power. The elections deviate from standards of credible processes due to substantial absence of proper compliance. The integrities of the processes are lowered and tainted to give the oppressors the privileges of fixing the outcomes and imposing the winners. The elections, summarily, represent opportunities to decontaminate the tensions for imperative political reforms. This because the elections are deceptively designed to present images of answers to needs for changes and solutions to necessary reforms.
In Nigeria, the preponderances of the evils of bad governance have weighed down all and sundry and the thrilling cry is the dismantling of the political edifies giving current to, and sustaining the despotism. There are groups agitating for dismemberment of Nigeria as an entity, while more moderate groups are considering devolution of powers to states in the true spirits and characters of federal structure. But all those benefitting from the nasty order are furious in their opposition to any change that alters the current order of things. They are pushing for 2023 elections. For this school, changes of guards represent panacea to the deep problems of Nigeria. In anticipation of these elections, they are positioning and repositioning themselves in party platforms and rebranding their demeanours to appear fit and acceptable. If there is no profound structural changes in the polity, the pestiferous issues of violence, insecurity, political and economic problems are bound to intensify because the underlying sources are not contained and under development of the economy will increase and the intensity of the malfeasance can drive many more to desperation. Elections prior to containment of the present day national crisis are solutions emanating from wrong diagnosis.
Elections are façades for running over the Nigeria’s momentous debacles and assuming them resolved. Elections for now, go in favour of the despots resistant to democratic calls for reforms of the system to make them fit for purposes. Today, they are demonizing, threatening arrest, violence and death of any citizen that expresses contrary but objective ways of containing the steady drift of Nigeria to precipice. It has never been so bad in the history of Nigeria, besides, the civil war era. Unfortunately, people at the corridors of power are obstinate and muzzle opposing views, they are on a speedy ride to run over Nigeria quickly and completely. The trend today demonstrated incontrovertibly that Nigeria is impounded by recalcitrant and super egoistic cliques that are determined to get her ruined by impositions of malevolent choices on her.
The Nigeria’s political despots are inclined to demonize democratic values and inclusive leadership and as well criminalize those clamouring for change and liberalization of collective political fortunes. For these autocratic democrats, elections must be won at all cost to maintain the destructive hold on power and every weapon – money, influence, intimidation, blackmail, media assault and physical violence, assassination are deployed to ensure fierce battle against change of power. It is the Nigerians democratic choose to have a nation working for all. It is the will of every Nigerian to make Nigeria greater and productive to the needs of the people, therefore, the clarion calls for reworking of the system are in line with common or democratic interest of the citizens. It is responding sensitively to the democratic demands that proves the legitimacy of the present government. The government has the choice of manifesting quality governance, quality care and concern for the oppressed Nigerian citizens, it can improve performance if its cares. It has vast opportunities of improving relationships with the people and reassure the citizens of genuine commitment to collective aspirations. Democratising the polity includes genuine attempts to be inclusive and remaining steadfast to the rules of democracy.
Democratization is often described by as ‘democratic deepening’, reflecting the continuous ability of democratic institutions to improve political participation; to become more open and vigorous; and enhance accountability1. Deepening democracy describes those active steps taken by any government in collaboration with the citizens to make it more functional and proactive to the political needs of sundry participants. It is consolidating the processes of inclusive politics through various platforms. Political parties, free media and bills constitutionalising freedom of association are such platforms. For Diamond, consolidating democracy “is the process of achieving broad (and) deep legitimation such that all significant political actors, at both elite and mass level believe that the democratic system is better for their society than any other realistic alternative they can imagine.2
According to Chris C. Ojukwu, Tope Olaifa ‘democracy is all about inclusiveness. If there is no provision for people’s inclusion in the party, there may be little participation since one begets the other. Inclusiveness stresses how wide the circle of party decision-makers is.3 In the most inclusive parties, all party members, or even all party supporters, are given the opportunity to decide on important issues, such as the choice of party leader or the selection of party candidates. Due to the fact that inclusiveness is a matter of process and formal rule, more inclusive parties will offer more opportunities for open deliberation prior to the decision stage.4 Democratic consolidation revolves around inclusiveness, accountability and dedication to platforms indispensable for making the processes secure, extending the life expectancy, ‘making them immune against the threat of authoritarian regression and building dams against the eventual reverse waves.5 Nwankwo in Ojukwu C.C. et al; contended that ‘democratization is a process of political renewal and the affirmative acceptance of the supremacy of popular will and consensual obligation over the logic of elitism and parochialism. It embraces both the shift in the disposition of individuals and classes towards the polity and the institutionalization of genuine representative political structures and organs of mass mobilization and conscientisation.6
- Lipset, S.M., (1959), Fails M.D. (2008), Diamond L.(1999) in Ogundiya I.S.(2010) ‘Corruption: The Bane of Democratic Stability in Nigeria’ in Current Research Journal of Social Sciences 2(4): 233-241, 2010
- 2 Diamond L (1999) in Ogundiya I.S.(2010) ‘Corruption: The Bane of Democratic Stability in Nigeria’ in Current Research Journal of Social Sciences 2(4): 233-241, 2010
- 3. Chris C. Ojukwu, Tope Olaifa(2011) ‘Challenges of Internal Democracy in Nigeria’s Political Parties: The Bane of Intra-Party Conflicts in The Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria’ in Global Journal of Human Social Science Volume 11 Issue 3
- 4. See Scarrow (2005) in Chris C. Ojukwu, Tope Olaifa(2011)
- 5. See Schedler (1998) in Ogundiya I.S.(2010)
- 6. Nwankwo A. (1992) in Ojukwu C.C and Tope Olaifa(2011)