By Kemi Yesufu
Despite 19 years of return to civilian rule, Nigeria’s democracy is still very fragile and those in position of power should be careful not to truncate it, Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Yakubu Dogara, said on Monday.
Speaking at the 2018 Democracy Day Lecture, Dogara cautioned that all over the world, democracies nowadays hardly die at the hands of people with guns but in the hands of civilians leaders who have dubious allegiance to democratic norms and values.
He noted that elections have sometimes produced enemies of democracy and urged the citizens to be eternally vigilant in order to protect and defend our hard-earned democracy.
The Speaker argued that there is every reason for Nigerians to celebrate almost two decades of civilian rule because the beauty of democracy is that it gives hope for a better future to the people and that history show that the rich and powerful have always interchanged places with the poor and vulnerable.
He further stated that it is consensus and compromise that drive the wheels of democracy and urged those who hold levers of power to resist the temptation of sliding into dictatorship because tyrants and dictators have always ended miserably such as the likes of Mussolini, Hitler, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and others.
He said: “As I reflect over what brief comments I will be making today, we have to invest it in the service of democracy, to remind us as I have said myself of what these democratic rights mean to us. We talk about how fragile they are, and to use this day to deter tyrants and rebuild leaders where ever they maybe, and to make a rallying point for peace and unity which is embedded in our national creed. If I succeed in doing that; then I would have scored myself as being successful.
“First of all, if you look at the concept of democracy from the loose; but very shrewd definition given by Abraham Lincoln as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, it doesn’t begin to make sense until you know the essence of the government of the people which is in the Declaration of Independence of the American people.
“You talk about we hold this truth to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their creator with some certain definite rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Then you’ll begin to know that the meaning of democracy is just to secure these rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Dogara however called on Nigerians to continue to invest in democracy and not to lose hope.
” For some of our citizens who wonder whether they are in the position to invest their liberty in the pursuit of happiness, I want to say they shouldn’t despair, as there is hope for the living. That fully in the course of history, the rich and powerful have always interchanged places with the poor and vulnerable. So there is hope, and every reason for all, Nigerians to celebrate this democracy.
” As a matter of fact, in order for us to secure these rights, the framers of our constitution allocated governmental powers among three equal branches of government, the Executive, the Legislature and The Judiciary. The three greatly working together makes it extremely necessary for compromise and consensus in governance. Whenever you see a democracy that is working; check it very well, it is consensus and compromise that drives it.
“Of course this democracy that we all cherish is very fragile, and as such we can’t take it for granted. That is why I thanked the President for making us all come here to remind ourselves of the fragility of our democracy. Nowadays democracies hardly die at the hands of men with guns, what truncates democracies globally is the election of leaders with dubious allegiance to democratic norms”, he further said.