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By May 2019, Nigeria’s nascent democracy should have been two decades. Thus, the thrust of this article is an in depth analysis on how dividends of democracy is a mirage in Nigeria socio-political milieu. This article however, takes a cursory look at the daunting challenges ahead and infers that unless the government increases expenditure and truncate the current brazen corruption, the hope of democratic consolidation may eventually be a mirage.

As today mark the democratic dispensation of Nigeria from 1999 till date (18years), after a prolonged military rule in Nigeria and the subsequent return to democratic rule in 1999, the Nigerian people still hoped for a life much better than the military rule.
Before I would like to dabble into the above subject matter, it would be appreciated that the view of democracy is a very loaded concept that cannot be captured by a singular school of thought. In fact , it means different things to different people.

According to Churchill, democracy is the worst form of government except all those forms that have been tried from time to time. In line with this view, MacPherson opined that until about 100 years ago, democracy was a bad thing, while Sartori rounded it up by asserting that democracy is more intricate than any other political form. All of these  views shows that the concept is a victim  definitional pluralism. However, democracy according to Abraham Lincoln remain the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This simply means that people are the major tenet and bedrock of democracy.

Democratic governments and legitimate systems all over the world concerns centre around providing welfare and basic necessities that will make life easier and prepare its citizens for the challenges of nation building. Some countries, even though not endowed with natural resources, have used their initiatives to guarantee that lives of their citizens are at least comfortable and satisfactory.

But with democratic rule in Nigeria from 1999 till date, will the Nigerian people testify to any meaningful change that has brought about any positive change in their lives? Have they reaped any meaningful dividends of democracy? Are the leaders and representatives performed anything to hail up about? And have they held the trust invested on them sincerely? Answering these questions will help us to annalyse recent reports which show that despite Nigeria ’s plentiful resources and oil wealth, Nigeria is now considered one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, with over 70 per cent of its population classified as poor, with 35 per cent living in absolute poverty. Also reports indicate that 59,000 women die during or soon after childbirth every year, the second highest in the world after India .

Only very few Nigerians could testify that democratic rule from 1999 till date has direct positive impact on their lives. Among the very few are the politicians themselves, their families and cronies, business capitalists and, consultants who have connections with politicians, professionals and academics given appointments to hold public offices and those that get tokens as defenders and promoters of politicians and public office holders.

The Nigerian people who don’t have connections with politicians are continuing to live in hardship and uncertain future. Poverty , maternal deaths, unemployment , insecurity, underpayment ,corruption , rigging of elections, lack of electricity, lack of good drinking water and roads etc., seem to be their own portion of dividends of democracy. In some cases one notices absolute carelessness about the lives of citizens that work without salaries for several months in places partially or completely sold out by government. Cases of pensioners dying on delayed payment queues are many.

Dividends of democracy are visible on politicians, public office holders and families and cronies of politicians. Flashy cars , exotic mansions and shopping malls, trip to foreign countries, expensive dresses and ornaments, fat bank accounts, established businesses etc. are some of the dividends of democracy that all can testify that those in the shade of governance do enjoy.

Masses are not envying politicians and their cronies for the life of comfort they are enjoying , rather they are demanding for what is supposed to be done to them to at least make life easier for them. They are also still confused as to which type of economic system we are operating as we are underpayed and at the same time the government keeps removing all subsidies that cushion the life of poor Nigerians against harder and brutish way of life.

Politicians have confused Nigerians with the type of economic system government is operating. In all we are aware of capitalism, socialism, and mixed economy system of government. Theoretically, Nigeria is a socialist state but in practice we are capitalist state. Though, to a layman’s view that is not a professional in an area of specialisation and as great Plato has rightly said and I quote “everyman should be placed according to where he or she is suited”, we are practicing mixed economy system of government. 

Been a subservient nation through accepting and implementing policies of foreign countries and their institutions will keep on retarding our development and inflicting more hardship on our people. Such policies have been in use under various names for years but they have not changed the lot of Nigerian people. Our governments have to look inward to formulate economic policies that will tally with our ways of life.

Corruption, which is the core impediment to our growth and development, has to be tackled aggressively under a willed and purposeful leadership. Until corruption is fought to a standstill , those politicians that have pillage and plunder treasuries under their trust and are freely  moving about enjoying and partying their loot, and even scheming for higher political offices will be emulated by would-be occupiers of elective offices and public office holders. Thank God for this current administration that has been of great impact in tackling the so called looters and deadly virus being of the so called hungry politicians.

Nigerian leaders have to work extra hard to win back the confidence of the Nigerian people that democratic governance is all about service to the people not service to themselves. That the real dividends of democracy should be felt by all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion, region political differences and social status through enabling the atmosphere to be condusive such that all can eat  n times a day, can obtain employment without having any connections , can be attended to in hospitals and provided with drugs, that salaries are enough and Nigerians can now start having the habit of life saving, that all Nigerians can move freely without fear of criminals etc. Until some of these and others are within reach to the Nigerian people that the real dividends of democracy will be elusive.

Exploring the nexus between good governance and democratic consolidation for the dividends of democracy to be put in place, the UNDP in its 1997 reports came up with a catalogue of what it take to sustain democracy and are as follows:
• Popular participation
• Government legitimate and acceptance by the people
• Accountability and transparency
• Promotion of equity and equality
• Ability to develop the resources and methods of governance 
• Promotion of gender balance
• Tolerance and acceptance of diverse perspectives
• Ability to mobilize resources for social purpose 
• Observance of rule of law
• Efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources
• A regulation rather than controlling governance 
• A service oriented governance.

From the foregoing, dividends of democracy in Nigeria socio-political milieu is an utopia phenomenon that Nigerians will continue agitating for if the right mechanism should not be put in place. The lives of Nigerians is in the hand of the so called leaders known as the social virus that is affecting the noble country and that has been characterized as the bourgeois as rightly said by Karl Marx. I could vividly remember during our childhood education that we do sing that children are the leaders of tomorrow and the question here is that are we still the leaders of that tomorrow where the mantle of power are still in the hands of these cannon-fodder. Has been rightly been said by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 that “bad leaders breed bad followers”, I absolutely agree with this because when a system is corrupt, it will surely affect its integral parts that made up of such system. And inline with the psychologist that believe that an environment shapes the behaviour of an individual, yes I agree with this because what the leaders has breed to we the youth has now been a problematic to the lives of the youth because few of the youth have the positive mind that if an opportunity is given, they are liable to bring back our dividends of democracy. An hypothetical question is been raised here that is Nigeria developing or growing? I would be pleased if everyone of us can answer this within ourselves but in reality we are not developing nor growing.

• Democracy : This is a form of government whereby the citizens are  eligible to choose their representative either directly or indirectly elected by themselves.
• Dividend : This refers to a reward, cash, profit or otherwise, distributed to people from an organization.
• Milieu : This is a social environment that people live.
• Mirage : This is from Latin word “MIRARI” means “TO LOOK AT, TO WONDER AT”. Technically, is an effect caused by having a hope or wish that is not realistic or unattainable.
• Socio-Political : This has to do with the context of politics and social life of the people.
Nigerians Are Suffering!
Nigeria Needs Fiscal Democracy!
Nigeria Needs A Fiscal Transformation Agenda!
Our Society Need To Be Reformed!


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