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Opinion

The Oracle: Is Democracy Really the Best Form of Government? (Pt 1)

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By Chief Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

In the midst of suffering, gnashing of teeth, hunger, squalor, despondency, corruption, insecurity, mass poverty and even hopelessness, many Nigerians have been asking me (both by SMS, phone calls, Watsapp messages, and emails), whether democracy is actually the best form of Government. They are wondering if successive civilian governments in Nigeria, especially the Muhammadu Buhari government, has demonstrated that democracy actually possesses the assumed talismanic abracadabra magical wand of being the best form of government. They are wondering why democracy which has been in Nigeria (aside the era of military interregnum), has never yielded the desired profits, let alone dividends. They are convinced that the only difference they have seen between the military adventurers in power and their ally elitist and political buccaneers is in the military’s starched uniform and looting gun, as against the politician’s agbada and babaringa, with a looting pen.

It has therefore become pertinent to explore some forms of government, starting with this universally acclaimed type called democracy.

HOW THE SEEDS OF DEMOCRACY WERE SOWN

In the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, American president, Abraham Lincoln, delivered a famous speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 4 and half months after the Union Armies which he led, had defeated the Confederacy Armies at the “Battle of Gettysburg”. The speech was to honour the soldiers who had sacrificed their precious lives for the country.

In just 271 words, Lincoln delivered one of the greatest speeches ever made in history. He told his transfixed audience in a speech that has since become famously known as “The Gettysburg Declaration”, thus:

“That these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth”.

The same Abraham Lincoln was also quoted to have said on August 1, 1858, as follows (the circumstances in which he did so are not quite clear):
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy”.

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS AND QUESTIONS

The questions that beg for answers are: Is democracy really the best form of government? If so, why and how? How many forms, types, systems, forms or structures of government do we actually have? My research on these questions shocked me to no end, when I discovered that there are well over 65 forms and structures of government. But, why has democracy stood out with such luminousness, prevalence and endearing love by most advanced countries of the world? What is it really that makes democracy so tick? Why is it so unique, adored, embraced and adulated by all? Why has it become the yardstick or international best practice barometer with which a ruler or government is weighed and measured?

Today, I am taking my avid readers along with me on a new series concerning the different systems, types, forms and structures of government. The revelations in my writes-up will shock many readers. From thousands of continuous feedback by reading members of the public, I have come to discover that the readership of this newspaper is quite vast and is no longer restricted to only Nigerians. It has since expanded to a global readership of all persons who thirst for democracy, knowledge, information, history, literature, scriptures, good governance, national affairs, international matters, human rights, Rule of law and constitutionalism. A litany of daily telephone calls, letters, whatsapp, facebook, SMS, linkedin, twitter and other online social media handles and platforms interactions with me readily testify to this wide readership. I am greatly encouraged by these divinely driven positive reactions to this my self-imposed sacrificial, but tasking, mission, of educating members of the public, sharing my little God-given knowledge and research capabilities, to illuminate the dark crevices of our ignorance, sheer hypnotism, brainwashing, and enhance national discourse.

Today, we shall commence this lengthy discourse which will take quite some time. Let us start, arguably, with the mother of all forms and structures of government – democracy. I shall break up from time to time, from this stream of national conversation, to attend to more urgent emergent national issues. When I so do, please, permit and pardon me. So, let us now start with the most cherished concept of government- DEMOCRACY.

DEMOCRACY AND ITS ORIGIN

The word “democracy” has its original roots in the ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city state of Athens. It means ‘demokratia,’ meaning ‘rule by the people’ (“demos” means ‘people’ and “kratos” means ‘rule’.) It is a political system in which people not monarchs (King or Queens) or Aristocracies (like Lords) rule.

Democracy also has roots in the Magna Carta, England’s “Great Charter” of 1215 that was the first document to challenge the authority of the king, subjecting him to the rule of the law and protecting his people from feudal abuse.

Democracy as we know it today was not truly defined until the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which time the U.S. Declaration of Independence was penned, followed by the U.S. Constitution (which borrowed heavily from the Magna Carta). The term evolved to mean a government structured with a separation of powers, provided basic civil rights, religious freedom and separation of church and state.

Theodore Parker defines it as “government of all the people, by all the people and for all the people”. Seymour Lipset (1960) gives a working definition of democracy as “a political system supplying regular constitutional opportunities for changing the government by allowing the population to choose between alternative sets of policy makers”.

While delivering a speech on the importance of democracy to the people of Annapolis in 1809, Thomas Jefferson said, “Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property is his who can take them”.

According to Larry Diamond, a Political Scientist, democracy consists of four key elements:

A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.

The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.

A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Democracy is a type of social system in which everyone has an equal share of power. In large complex societies, however, it is impossible for every citizen to be involved in the political process. Thus, when we refer to ‘democratic’ power structure, we mean those structures in which people are allowed to vote for elected representatives.

MY OWN DEFINITION OF DEMOCRACY

To me, my understanding is that democracy is a system of government borne of the hopes and aspirations of a people and in the shaping of which the people have a real say and commitment to a political structure to which people, in consequence, have intellectual, ideological, and emotional attachments. This means a system of government that is considered by the people as their own and which they are prepared to protect and defend to the hilt. This is a government of the people, one that has its roots in the people, in their goals, values, ideals, experiences, and aspirations. It is not a type of governmental system, the nuances of which can be imposed on the people from outside, though some aspects of those nuances can be influenced or even borrowed externally. But, it is a system of rule that is nurtured, refined, and modified by the people to reflect their wishes, desires, and experiences. The lack of all these desiderata makes a people’s appreciation of, and attitude toward, a particular form of democratic practice merely tentative and tinkering.

HOW DEMOCRACY HAS EVOLVED

Most societies that describe themselves as political democracies are actually representative democracies in which citizens elect politicians who actually hold and exercise political authority. Pure democracy is quite rare. This is because the definition of ‘everyone’ always excludes some portion of population.

The origins of democracy as an idea and a practice go back to the city-states of Greece in the 5th century BCE. But, contemporary democracies are very different from the above ancient Greek model. It is a paradox that though modem democracy first emerged in the Greece, yet the Greeks were always suspicious of democracy.

They felt that people often made bad decisions that went against their interests. People could be manipulated by demagogues and vested interests. The pattern that emerged in England in the 17th century and slowly became the model for the entire world was one of “representative democracy” or “parliamentary democracy”.

Here, citizens elected their leaders by ballot, who promised to represent the interests of those citizens in debates and decisions, which typically took place in some central national forum such as parliament or Congress. Thus, ideally, the parliament becomes a miniature demos.

In India, this type of democratic political system developed after independence. It is said that in ancient India, the people led a democratic way of living (Ram Rajya), but the political democracy of the modem form did not exist.

In practice, politicians in a democracy usually belong to parties which propose general policies or programmes, rather than responding to citizens on issue-by-issue basis. Parties thus became independent centres of power.

The experience of the 20th century seems to show that citizens’ interests are best represented by either two, or at the most, three parties—as in Britain or the United States; although there are many one-party systems in the world which claim to be democratic on the basis that they represent the collective will of the people. Political processes (elections, political socialization) are the lifeblood of all types of democracies. Political organization, political competitiveness, and the big political gesture-all these are integral to democracy. Without these, democracy is hollow.

INGREDIENTS OF DEMOCRACY

It is widely now accepted that for real democracy, the following necessary conditions must be present: free and fair elections; a genuine choice between candidates and policies; real parliamentary power; the separation of powers between the executive, legislature, judiciary and the politicians; civil rights for all citizens; rule of law and equality before law; inter-party competition; real representation of different interests, free, strong and responsible media; personal freedom; freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion and public worship and freedom of association and of assembly; freedom from arbitrary arrest; and political choice, etc.

Although democracy is based on majority rule, the protection of minority rights has always been regarded as an essential aspect of the democratic system. Thus, although the majority may always have its way, the minority must always be allowed to have its say. Democracy does not however tolerate tyranny of a vociferous and oppressive tiny minority. (To be continued).

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy”. (Woodrow Wilson).

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Kayode Emola

What is happening to the Yoruba Nation Struggle? Is sovereignty still an attainable possibility? These questions and many more are on the lips of enthusiastic Yoruba begging for answers whilst awaiting the birth of their new nation. Rightly so, given that many of us in the trenches promised that there would be no 2023 election in Nigeria, as we would have already left the country. Alas, it is less than a month before the 2023 general election is scheduled; only a miracle will be able to thwart the election now.

How did we get it wrong? Why haven’t we got out of Nigeria by now? I don’t think this is the appropriate time to start apportioning blame. However, I do believe that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, then we are bound to repeat them again and again. We must be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, those hell-bent on causing schisms amongst the advocates of independence are not only impairing their work, they risk jeopardising the entire struggle if care is not taken.

The solution to the Yoruba question is hiding in plain sight, yet it is so simple that only a few can decipher it or see how to implement it. Rather than focusing on the practical steps to get us out of Nigeria, some people are now being cajoled by meaningless slogans. Consider the claims of the Ominira Yoruba 2022 team, that if 5 million people signed a petition in support of independence, Yoruba would be able to exit Nigeria and nothing could stop it. The petition surpassed its five million target and yet nothing happened.

So Ominira Yoruba 2022 announced that they would make a declaration of independence and this would be the catalyst that would bring us our own nation. Yet no plan was put in place on how this was to be implemented aside from flippant announcements on Facebook and other social media outlets. When this failed to materialise Yoruba Nation, they then came out with Reclamation, and following its fruitlessness, then Occupation. The truth is that, no matter how catchy a slogan we produce, if we don’t have a concrete plan on how to get Yoruba out of Nigeria, we will continue on this trajectory of big grammar inside empty cannon.

The first step in achieving anything in life is to ask if anybody in the world has done the same thing already. If so, you can learn from them and apply their methods to your situation. If there are none, then by all means go ahead and invent the wheel, do some trial and error and work out a strategy to get you to the finish line. However, in this situation, there are many countries whose precedents we can learn from, including Norway/Sweden, South Sudan/Sudan, Czechoslovakia and finally, former Yugoslavia etc.

Whilst some of these countries exited peacefully, some had extremely violent departures. However, the key element was that they were determined to exercise their right to self-determination. The unifying feature that they all shared was that they all declared their independence from the larger, and dared to face the consequences. For some countries like South Sudan leaving Sudan it led to a long and bitter civil war; in contrast, when Norway left Sweden, the latter accepted the declaration of the former and they parted peacefully.

If the only option that allows for every indigenous nationality to exit Nigeria is through the declaration of independence, then the simplest and most logical route would have been to bring everyone together in consultation. In this scenario, any declaration of independence by one indigenous nation in Nigeria could be followed immediately by simultaneous declaration from other regions. This would dissuade the Nigerian government from attempting to take a stand against these nations or starting a war that they could not possibly sustain.

In light of this, what should we now do? We need to organise ourselves into formations, working towards the greater good. Those in the diplomatic circles need to intensify their diplomatic outreach to those countries around the world that will be sympathetic to indigenes’ independence. Whilst those in humanitarian circles need to embark on massive campaigns with humanitarian agencies, explaining the reasons why Nigeria must be dissolved

If we all come together with this resolve, then Nigeria would have no option but to let us go because we would have the support of our people and the international communities. Undoubtedly, we will not achieve unanimous acceptance from every country, or even across own our people; but those who do believe in the cause must press on until victory is achieved.

Therefore, my advice to those still being deceived by slogans and jamboree is this: open your eyes and see that, unless we do the work, no amount of camouflage or deceit can bring us out. We need to be ready to be open-minded, to put in the effort required to achieve success. Yoruba nation *will* come, but not by lies of ¬_”a tí gbá”_ (“we have collected it”) or “God has done it”.

Even if God has said Yes, if we fail to put in the necessary work, we will remain on this mountain for a very long time. The year of 2023 still has a long way to go: we can work towards something meaningful, or we can continue to deceive ourselves that Yoruba nation will be served to us on a platter of gold with no effort on our own part. A word is enough for the wise.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Power of Imagination

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Success and failure start from the mind. The human mind is like a rubber, the more you stretch it, the more it expands. The human mind is the brain, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. We all have the power to change the course of our life without allowing us to be victims. This is because the greatest power God gave us at creation is freedom and choice. Just like you have the power to think positive thoughts, you also have the power to think negative thoughts. It should be noted that whatever you focus on expands.

It’s quite unfortunate that many of us don’t know how we can use our mind to attract opportunities, if properly stretched. For the human mind to work at optimal capacity, it must be capable of using the power of imagination. According to Napoleon Hill, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it. The right question we should ask ourselves is if we are using the power of our imagination.

Imagination takes several forms. The human mind can be artistic in nature, it can be creative, and it can also be challenging. The mind will only work on how you program it. If you program your mind to think like a leader, it will be activated, if you program the mind to overcome challenges it will be activated, if you program the mind to either think positive or negative thoughts, it produces the desired fruits for you.

You may be wondering where the power of imagination comes from? The power of imagination starts from the mind. To understand how the mind works, you have to look at the brain. The neocortex and thalamus are responsible for controlling the brain’s imagination, along with many of the brain’s other functions such as consciousness and abstract thought.

One may ask, is imagination the same thing as intelligence?  One can imagine something, but don’t take proactive steps to implement it, but the man who takes actionable steps can be regarded as an intelligent man because he got the inspiration and knows what to do. According to Albert Einstein, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. This is a fact because the true intelligence level of an individual is not dependent on the facts a person knows but on how he applies them creatively to solve problems in the world.  Albert Einstein further stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The power of imagination cannot be overemphasized. One of the distinguishing traits between wealthy men and the poor men is their mindset. A big difference between a rich mind and poor mind lies in how they process information. While rich and wealthy minds have a positive and growth mindset, poor men have a negative and fixed mindset. While the growth mindset sees problems as opportunities to make impact by solving them, fixed minds see problems as obstacles to making impact. While rich and wealthy minds spend money to invest, poor minds spend money to impress. While rich and wealthy people spend after saving, poverty-stricken minds save from the remnant of their expenses.

This power of imagination works in different ways. Sometimes, it comes like a vision, a revelation. inspiration or even feelings. This imagination can be something you would like to change, or a cause you would like to work on. When you get this prompting, the best thing you can do is commit it to prayer and believe in it especially if it’s a revelation or vision you have been shown. It might look so big and impossible to attain. Whenever you feel this way, just know that you must activate your growth mindset.

Wealth creation starts from the mind. If you want to be successful in any craft, you must envision it in your mind. Most of the great people if not all the great people we celebrate in the world utilized the power of imagination to create a product. If you want to be rich or start a business, you need to take the bold step, if not, you’ll remain where you are.

Nobody can stop a person whose time has come. Nobody can stop you; you are the only one who can stop yourself if you doubt yourself or tell your dreams, vision, or ideas to the wrong person. The wrong person in this case can be your parents, friends, mentors or even your spiritual leader. Don’t get me wrong, these people may not be bad people, they may not understand the calling or vision you had. They may not even see you as the person capable of doing it because you don’t look it. They may be speaking from their experience which may not be your reality. Let me tell you, if God wants somebody else to get the revelation or inspiration, he will put the imagination in their mind. Just to encourage you, God does not call the qualified, he calls the unqualified and then qualifies you.

In conclusion, the power of imagination is a very powerful and creative tool a progressive mind can use to excel in life if properly activated. This is because nobody knows you more than you know yourself.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Be Empowered to Remain in Power

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“When you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to “MANifest”! Chase excellence, and success would chase you pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

 Commitment has been described as dedication, steadfastness, allegiance, faithfulness or loyalty to a course, and individual, group or a supreme being. It is about giving one’s self to a course with success as the only option. Commitment binds you irrevocably to a course you believe in until success comes. It is not the same as mere involvement, but dedication to seeing a course(s) completed or fulfilled to cause an effect or impact either within one’s self, others, corporates and the world at large.

The world is filled with peoples. Anybody can be involved. Being involved in an activity that involves other people does not make you part of a team. As a matter of fact, it only takes a number of people involved in working together to have a group. You must understand that a group is absolutely not a “team”. The difference? In a group, people are involved in activity(s). In a Team, people are committed to a process and a goal. The difference between commitment and involvement is known by the difference in the “omelette and “corned beef”. In the making of omelets, the chicken is involved, in the corned beef, the cow is committed!

Commitment is the secret to the success of the postage stamp. To get the letter to its destination, it must first commit to the envelope. After that, the rest is a matter of time. A train gets to its destination because of its commitment to the rails.

Commitment operates in five major levels which would be expatiated below:

  1. Commitment to God (The Creator that gives to all that gives and receives)
  2. Commitment to a Course for a Cause

iii.              Commitment to Process

  1. Commitment to People
  2. Commitment to yourself

Commitment to God

Those who have discovered themselves in God have no problem committing to Him. Those who sideline God in success ventures will find out soon enough that it is the pathway to “frustration” and an insignificant “death”.

Commitment to a Course for a Cause

You must always remember that, you were never created to simply pursue wealth and all trappings of the worldly successes. After all your bills are paid, and you have a spill-over, what next? Highly successful and effective people, first of all, find a higher course for a greater cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives if need be, then throw themselves wholly into it. The principle is that, if death does not scare you, the possibility of failure cannot! As the Bible rightly said, “those who keep their lives lose it, while those who lose it, find it!” The other name for it is significance or relevance. Make money in order to enhance your platform(s) for significance or irrefutable relevance. At a recent time, Bill Gate has committed time and resources to finding solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication in Third World countries. What he did caught the attention of Warren Buffet (who wasn’t reputable for charity), the World’s Second richest man at that time. This made him donate the sum of $37billion (US Dollars) to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When asked why, he answered, “Because they know how best to give it away better and faster than I can.”

Commitment to a Process

Everything in life evolves. The only tree that grew to full stature in one day died the same day! Ask Prophet Jonah in the Bible. If you cannot commit to a process, you will forfeit the promise.

To master your skill in life, there is always a process of apprenticeship. Permit yourself to fail…but don’t remain a failure. The Olympic medalist who won the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds was only celebrated for what he had invested years of consistency and hours of practice to.

Tiger Woods had played golf as a child and he had always nurtured a vision to win every championship in golf. So he started to work towards that, easily.

The father (being a good Lawn Tennis Player) of Serena and Venus Williams (The World Lawn Tennis Champions) had coached them to always win since they were very young.

What the world celebrate today in these people is actually the process they had committed too long before they started winning laurels.

Commit to Yourself

Budget for self-development. Your greatest investment is the one you make on your personal development. When you are right, everything around you will be right!

Things don’t happen because you chase them to happen, rather they happen become you have become a center of attraction that commands the necessary attention. For instance, when you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to MANifest! Chase excellence and success would chase you, pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”

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