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The Oracle: CSOs and the Media in Promoting Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria (Pt. 1)



By Mike Ozekhome


An issue that is as loaded as this puts one in a dilemma: how much of the underlying culture of sub-titles is one permitted to make incursions in to? An exhaustive discourse of same presumes that one is at the same time a lawyer, a politician, a media practitioner, a civil society activist, a public affairs analyst and an expert in electoral matters and democratic process. We shall do our best to discuss this multi-dimensional and multi-faceted topic of considerable significance and currency.

Conceptual Framework

We shall dissect this topic from the perspectives of:
i. Definitional terms of what constitutes:
a. Sound Democratic Culture.
b. Good Governance.
c. The Civil Society.
d. The Media.
ii. The Civil Society and Credible Elections.
iii. The Media and Credible Elections.
iv. Character of the Nigerian Media (influence of Ownership on
Independence and Objectivity).
v. The Civil Society and the Influence of their Sponsors.
vi. Engaging the Civil society and the Media for National Development.
vii. Recommendation/Conclusions.

“Sound” Or “Constitutional” Democratic Culture?

We shall start our discourse from the prism of a “constitutional democratic culture”.

Definitional Terms:


While subjecting the concepts of constitutional democracy and arbitrary rule to considerable thought Prof. Ben Nwabueze, the renowned Constitutional Lawyer posited, most admirably that:

“Democracy as form of government, is man-based; it is a humanist, individualist and moralist institution, “created for the sake of what the ancient philosophers called the essential differences between democracy and socialism. “Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man mere agent, a mere number… while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude”.

Democracy is the most desired concept of government in our contemporary world. Yet democracy is the most basterdised or prostituted concept in political history. As Bernard Crick rightly remarked:

“Democracy is perhaps the most promiscuous word in the world of public affairs. She is everybody’s mistress and yet somehow retains her magic even when a lover sees that her favours are being, in his light, illicitly shared by many another. Indeed, even amid our pain at being denied her exclusive fidelity, we are proud of her adaptability to all sorts of circumstances, to all sorts of company”.


There are as many definitions and concepts of democracy as there are writers, political theoreticians, each viewing democracy from his prison. They are all right. It is akin to the theory of the three blind men and the elephant. One described the elephant as flat and hard as a wall, having touched its broad trunk. The other argued that it was as long and thin as a snake. He had actually touched its tail. Yet the third swore by all the gods of sight and vision that the elephant was large and flexible like a fan. This third blind man had managed to touch the fanny ear. Yet they were all right, albeit not completely so.
The Black’s Law Dictionary with pronunciations definition of democracy is more laconic and straight to the point. It says democracy is:

“That form of government in which the sovereign power resides in and is exercised by the whole body of the citizens directly or indirectly through a system representation as distinguished from a monarchy, aristocracy or oligarchy.”

It was Abraham Lincoln, the great slaves’ liberator and former president of the United States of America who on 19th November, 1863, in his Gettysburg Declaration, defined democracy as government of the people, for the people and by the people. This definition lives on till date. “Democracy” has been identified with government by the people, usually through elected representative. Democracy is a political system that enables people to freely choose an effective, honest, transparent and accountable government. It can equally be described as the philosophy of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodic free elections.

The concept of democracy originated in ancient Greece as a philosophy of popular sovereignty in Greek city states. The rise of democracy as a universal system of governance is largely a product of the 20th century. Although, it has now gained widespread acceptance, democracy took a long time to emerge. From its ancient origins in Greek City States, the growth of democracy was largely facilitated by the French and American Revolutions of the 18th Century; the widening of the franchise in Europe and North America in the 19th Century, to the heroic struggles for popular participation and social justice in the 20th Century. With the collapse of communism, democracy has become established as the “normal” form of governance.

Challenges Among Emerging Democracies

It must be emphasized that in emerging democracies across countries such as Nigeria, the key challenge is how to deepen and widen democracy democratic structures and the political space. Central to this challenge is how to effectively bulk the key institutions democratic governance, to wit.

i. A system of representation, with well-functioning political parties and civil society organizations;
ii. An independent electoral system that guarantees free and fair elections;
iii. A system of checks and balances based on the separation of power, with independent judicial and legislative branches of government;
iv. A vibrant civil society, able to monitor government policies and to provide alternate forms of political participation;
v. A free and vibrant independent media with strong dedication to professional ethics;
vi. Effective civilian control over the military and other security forces.
Inspite of the divergent opinions on the concept of democracy and its amplitudinal ramifications, it is generally agreed and accepted that democracy consists of five core values. They are:
i. The right of the people to freely choose their governments in periodic but free and fair elections;
ii. The right of freedom of association, especially in forming political parties;
iii. The right to freedom of expression, especially freedom of speech and press freedom;
iv. The primacy of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary; and
v. The commitment to transparency and accountability of governments to the people.
Variants of Democracy.

The practice of democracy differs from one place to another. In the United States of America and Nigeria for example, democracy is predicated on presidentialism, separation of powers, checks and balances and an independent judiciary. In Britain and many other commonwealth countries, there is almost an imperceptible integration and intertwining of the executive and legislative Organs of Government. As Emeka Anyaoku, former Commonwealth Secretary General has noted, whatever variants of democracy we may have, there are universally acceptable ingredients that define a truly democratic country. They are:
• The right of the people to choose freely their governments periodically;
• The right to freedom of association especially in forming political parties;
• The right to freedom of expression, especially freedom of speech and a free media;
• The primacy of the rule of law and the independence of judiciary; and
• The continuing transparency and accountability of government to its electorate.
Democracy is not a magical wand. It is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a means to an end.

Democracy that does not yield “democracy dividends” is as accursed as military dictatorship. Democracy goes beyond the mere holding of periodic elections of Government. In the words of Salim Ahmed Salim:

“Democratic governance is not simply structures or only rituals; it is also a modality of behavior and interaction. It constitutes relations as well as values to be internalized. It is a means of societal empowerment and with such a complex composition. Democratic governance is not a “one-off” static phenomenon to be juctaposed or grafted into a society. It is a dynamic process that is nurtured and enriched with the growth and evolution of society…

I need to also point out in this regard, that democratic governance is not only a relationship between state and society, but it also refers to relationships within society. At this second level, it underscores such virtues as tolerances, dialogue and understanding, social integration, gender equality, abidance to norms, respect for fundamental human rights, adherence to the rule of law negation of corruption.”

It is very important that access to political power is extended to every citizen of the country and that he is given an opportunity to participate in the choice of those who govern him. This is called public participation and it helps to nip conflict in the bud and balance centripetal and centrifugal forces. In like manner, we must emphasis that the use of acquired political power is not synonymous with the mere holding “free and fair elections”, “but should go beyond that and critically explore hoe the management of the acquired political power affects the generality of the people. If instead of its being used to promote the basic needs and aspirations of the generality of the people, the acquired political power is merely used to promote the needs of a microscopic ruling elite, then democracy cannot deliver peace and public harmony”.

In the illuminating words of Lord James Bryce, Modern Democracy. Democracy is supposed to be the product and the guardian both of Equality and of Liberty, being so consecrated by its relationship to both theses precious possessions as to be almost above criticism.”

Prof. Ben Nwabueze, the erudite and renowned constitutional lawyer note with precision that: “Democracy as a form of government, is man-based; it is a humanist, individualist and moralist institution,

“created for the sake of what the ancient philosophers called the “Good Life” of society. Herein lies one of the essential differences between democracy and socialism.

“Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man mere agent, a mere number … while democracy seek equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude”.

To be continued…

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Voice of Emancipation: Do Deterrents Actually Work?




By Kayode Emola

Today marks exactly two years since Russia invaded Ukraine seeking to turn the country into their vassal state. In a situation seemingly analogous to David facing Goliath, everyone thought that within days Ukraine would have given up and submitted to Russia. However, till today there is still no victor, and the war seems to be at a stalemate.

With the western support and sophisticated weaponry Ukraine has received, one would have thought that this would have tipped the balance of the war in their favour. However, even that appears to have just stalled the war, rather than afford Ukraine the ability to push the Russians out of their territory.

It may be that the Western countries’ intent was never for Ukraine to win the war, but rather to use the war to degrade Russia armoury. If so, they are achieving this remarkably well; but Ukraine will be the one to bear the cost, laden with crippling debts that they will be paying for many generations to come.

Just yesterday, the American President Joe Biden imposed another round of injunctions on Russia, in response to the war reaching the two year mark. Over 500 new sanctions were imposed on Russian businesses, people and interests around the world, in a bid to force Putin to throw in the towel. But in truth, do these sanctions really work?

The short answer is no. Sanctions don’t really work, and in reality, they are never intended to. These embargos are little more than tokenism, imposed to give the impression that the Western countries are not sitting idly by, without having any true effect in practical terms.

For example, the ban on exporting goods from the UK to Russia, implemented since the beginning of the war. And it is true that no UK-manufactured goods have been exported to Russia directly. However, large quantities of British-made products are being exported to countries like Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Armenia, from whence they are then transported to Russia. This indirect exportation helps Russia’s economy minimise the adverse effects of Western sanctions, whilst undoubtedly also benefitting the UK economy .

This shows why the imposition of sanctions is ineffective, merely a façade to maintain public belief in the government’s narrative. Truthfully, these sanctions serve only to realign the beneficiaries of the transactions: the countries that have become the proxy buyers of these products will surely one way or another benefit from the transactions being conducted.

With all the sanctions imposed on Russia, one would have expected their economy to be badly affected, yet in reality we see that the reverse is the case. The Russian economy far outstripping that of the G7 nations, thanks to China and India continuing to buy their crude oil and other resources. The UK, on the other hand, has recently entered recession – and their economic situation would have been even worse had they not been manufacturing and exporting the heavy machinery that ultimately ended up in Russia.

If sanctions don’t work, then why bother with them? The truth is that they are necessary: despite nations being able to exploit loopholes to avoid the harsher consequences of being sanctioned, it nonetheless makes things more difficult for the sanctioned entity to obtain the raw materials or resources that they need.

Ever wonder why Sani Abacha wasn’t moved when the Commonwealth imposed sanctions upon Nigeria in 1995? Had the sanctions involved the export of crude oil, it would have crippled our economy and forced Abacha into releasing MKO Abiola, the rightfully elected President at the time of his incarceration. However, the exclusion of crude oil enabled Abacha to continue eliminating his political opponents, until he himself paid the ultimate price in 1998.

All of this demonstrates that no country will love our Yoruba nation more than ourselves. We must understand that the actions of Western nations are not motivated by the love they have for us, but rather solely for propaganda and the benefit of their own economies.

Therefore, the onus is on us to create policies that will benefit our economy; we cannot merely sit and wait for the international community to come to our aid. We need to start creating alliances with nations that matter, that will stand with us in our dark and difficult days, supporting us against any external aggression directed toward our economy and people.

We should never make the mistake of thinking that sanctions imposed against those who want to harm us are done for our benefit; it may be mere lip service, as we have seen in the case of the sanctions against Russia. We also must learn as individuals and communities to act in the best interest of our country and economy, rather than seeking selfish aggrandisement. We must protect the interests of the Yoruba nation, as that is the only way we can build a sustainable environment for our people and a future for the generations to come.

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The Oracle: Harnessing the Potentials of Nigerian Intellectuals with Disability… (Pt. 2)




…For Positive Contributions to the Government

By Mike Ozekhome


We commenced our discussion on this treatise with some definitional terms. Followed by challenges which I believe stand in the path of disabled persons and their potentials. We rounded up with a look at certain initiatives designed to close the gap of disability. Today, we shall continue and conclude same while looking at some proposals on how persons with disability can add value to the society. Read on.


According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Disability Report, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population, or at least 25 million people, have a disability. Many of them face a number of human rights abuses including stigma, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to healthcare, housing, and education.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006 and entered into force in 2008, signalled a ‘paradigm shift’ from traditional charity-oriented, medical-based approaches to disability to one based on human rights. It offers sufficient standards of protection for the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of persons with disabilities on the basis of inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. It makes clear that persons with disabilities are entitled to live independently in their communities, to make their own choices and to play an active role in society. (Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner: Human rights of persons with disabilities

Nigeria has since signed the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disability on 30th March, 2007, but has not yet domesticated it by enacting a law on it. The Persons with Disabilities Bill that has since suffered series of legislative hiatus before the National Assembly. It is to be “An Act to Ensure Full Integration of Persons with Disabilities into the Society and to Establish a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Vest it with the Responsibilities for their Education, Health Care and the Protection of their Social, Economic, Civil Rights.” Paul Uwadimma, in his write-up about former President Jonathan Leaving Presidency Without Signing Disabilities Bill, wrote in the Leadership Newspaper of 15th May, 2015, where he stated as follows:
“Under the Bill, Section 1 is expected to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability and this is in conformity with an important principle (non-discrimination) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as contained in articles 3 (b) and 5 of the UN Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities (UNCRPD), which Nigeria signed and ratified the convention and its optional protocol. There is no denying the fact that persons with disabilities suffer from discrimination on a daily basis whether in employment, education, transportation, communication, information, health, housing and even social interaction where persons with disabilities are denied marriage to their loved ones because they are disabled. Most often, the person with disability is rejected on grounds of disability even though he or she merits employment; and while in employment he or she is always the last to be considered for promotion even though he or she commenced work the same time with his able-bodied counterparts. This is a travesty of justice. Persons with disabilities are denied access into several places on the ground of disability, e.g., banks and rented apartments, among others. Part three of the bill addressed one of the major problems faced by the disabled in their daily activities, which is lack of access to public places. As such, sections 3, 4 and 5 deal with the issue of accessibility to physical structures such as public premises and permission for use of accessibility aids in public buildings and the need for accessibility on roads and sidewalks. The Nigerian Constitution provides for freedom of movement, yet persons with disabilities are denied this right as a result of the hazards on our roads and sidewalks. (UNCRPD, Article 9.) Section 7 will ensure adherence to the building code where buildings are made usable and accessible to persons with disabilities, especially wheel chair users. In addition, section 12 will grant persons with disabilities, who are in vehicles, easy access to parking spaces which will be reserved for their sole use as is the case in developed countries. Parts V and VI also attest to the need for accessibility in the use of sea ports, railways and air transportation. A great deal of discrimination is suffered today by persons with disabilities wishing to make use of air transportation. In keeping with international norms and standards, the bill will enable persons with disabilities to be treated with dignity and respect in air, road and sea transportation. Part VII addresses the issue of special queues and situations of emergencies for people with disabilities. In queues, especially unruly ones, persons with disabilities are usually shoved aside and in cases of risk and emergencies, it is well-known that the person with disability is always the last to be considered, since as a matter of fact, disability issues today in Nigeria are always regarded as an afterthought. (UNCRPD, Article 11). Part VIII deals with the vexed issue of the abuse of the liberty of the person with disability, where able-bodied people have taken it upon themselves to use people with disabilities as fodder for fund raising in the most ignoble ways possible. (UNCRPD, Article 14). In keeping with Article 24 of the UNCRPD, the bill recognises the need for inclusive education for persons with disabilities in Nigeria and more importantly ensures that persons with disabilities will not be unduly discriminated against in the provision of education due to the lack of appropriate equipment, while section 27 addresses the communicational needs of persons with disabilities using health facilities, especially the deaf wherein sign language interpreters will be introduced at all such health facilities. Finally, sections 28 (work and employment) and 31 (participation in politics) address the need for gainful employment for people with disabilities and the need for them to participate actively in political and public life. These are in keeping with Articles 27 on work and employment and 29 on participation in political and public life of the UNCRPD.”

This bill was passed, but not assented to, under the regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It came before President Jonathan for the second time and he also did not assent to it before leaving office. Persons with disabilities have employed various tactics to actualise the assent to this bill. They have lobbied, demonstrated and even litigated on it to no avail. (See Joseph Onyekwere, Persons with disabilities bill and the burden of presidential assent. Published by Gaurdian Newspaper of March 9, 2015).

Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007 and its Optional Protocol in 2010. Since then, civil society groups and people with disabilities have called on the government to put it into practice. In 2011 and 2015, the National Assembly passed the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2009, but former President Goodluck Jonathan declined to sign it into law. The bill for the new law was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate joint committee in November 2016, but was not sent to Buhari for his signature until December 2018.

Consequently, On January, 23, 2019, the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, was signed into law by Muhammadu Buhari. This was done after 9 years of relentless advocacy by disability rights groups and activists. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and imposes sanctions including fines and prison sentences on those who contravene it. It also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures, and automobiles to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities.

The law will also establish a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, responsible for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to housing, education, and healthcare. The Commission will be empowered to receive complaints of rights violations and support victims to seek legal redress amongst other duties.

The enactment of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act is only a first step in the fulfillment of Nigeria’s obligations under the CRPD. Authorities should now put effective measures in place for its full implementation to ensure equal treatment and participation of people with disabilities across Nigeria.


Persons with disabilities of Nigerian ancestry and decent, both home and abroad, can indeed, contribute their quota to the current government through the following:
1. Championing Legislations: Persons with disabilities can be at the fore-front of influencing governmental policies through sponsoring of bills in the National and States Houses of Assemblies to make laws for the protection of persons with disabilities. Since Nigeria has already signed the Treaty on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, (See the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: List of Signatory States and Regional Integration Organizations. Available at:, the Persons with disabilities can influence an Act of the National Assembly ratifying same in accordance with Section 12 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. Make proposal to the Federal Government on the need to extend the wind of the doctrine of change to persons with disabilities so as to secure concessions from all arms of governments and all tiers of government on the need to reserve a quota –say 10 % of executive and judicial positions- strictly to qualified intellectuals with disabilities.

3. Promoting public awareness of the need to see persons with disabilities as equals and thereby effectively eliminate discriminations

4. Influencing political parties to reserve a particular number of elective political positions (especially legislative positions) exclusively for qualified persons with disabilities.

5. Directing and investing the intellectual prowess of disabled tertiary intellectual Dons towards general public education geared towards influencing change in societal perception of persons with disabilities and moulding government decisions towards positive policy changes regarding persons with disabilities.


Persons with disabilities constitute an integrate part of our society. They should be optimally involved in all facets of development.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: Of Fear and Faith by Henry Ukazu




Dear Destiny Friends,

Fear and faith are two great rivals in the affairs of man. Where one is found, the other takes a leave. They can either make or mar any progressive being, and anybody who truly wants to succeed must know how to activate and control the inherent powers of these two great forces.

According to Dr. Yomi Garnett, “viewed from a spiritual perspective, fear and faith can be said to be opposites…and what each of them brings to our life is also opposites. Fear can lead to failure, while faith will lead to conquest”.

Question: Do you want to live in fear, or would you like to be associated with a conquered fellow?

One of the major killers of vision is fear,  and one of the enablers of life is faith. When one is possessed with the spirit of fear, it will be difficult for that person to achieve their heart desires, but when one’s spirit is activated with the right amount of faith, even the highest fear will fade out.

One may be wondering, how fear and faith can be positively activated to attract success, ab at the same time be the destruction of man, if not properly managed.

What actually inspires a success-oriented mind? Obviously, several things activate one’s mind. To a lot of people, their greatest fears in life is poverty. These sets of people abhor being poor can mitigate their success in life, and as such they put in all their efforts to succeed.

To some, their greatest fear in life is failure. They can’t imagine the shame and defeat that come with failure, and as such they put in their best in whatever productive work they engage in.

Wen fear becomes extrem, it turns to phobia and dreaded. It’s instructive to note that some people have the phobia of height and flying. Some others have the phobia of pregnancy, traveling on water, approaching, or talking to people due to rejection, making mistakes, threading on new ground, among others.

To conquer this fear however, one needs to activate the inherent power of faith. Faith is the belief in what is not seen but hoped for. Any creative mind that wants to succeed in life must have faith not only in themselves, but in their businesses, academics, personal and professional developmental endeavours.

No great person has ever succeeded in life without faith. They believed in the possibility of their business even when there’s little or no hope of survival. They dared to succeed.

In contrast, fear has been th singular reason for most of the failures men have recorded. Some people even give up before they begin their project because of lack confidence and hope.

In some cases, this fear is projected by friends, family members, mentors or even trusted persons who don’t really know or understand what the person is working on. They just simply believe the project is bound to fail based on the prevailing circumstances or challenges surrounding the person or business.

This is how to activate and stimulate the subconscious and inherent power of faith. Imagine as a young man, you have interest in a lady, but you are wondering how to approach her considering her perceived response. It is not out of place to have a perception of the kind of respinse expected, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

One of the best things the guy can do is to dare to succeed by reaching out to the lady. In the worst-case scenario, the lady might say no. In that case, the man will be satisfied he tried his best because the worst feelings to have in life is the feeling of regret.

Alternatively, the lady might like the guy and just play to the gallery just to gauge the man’s intent and seriousness. If the latter is true, the man is deemed lucky for daring to ask.

As a student, business owner, parent, teacher, government official, or pastor just to name a few; if you have a project or task in mind, don’t allow the fear of failure, disappointment or obstacles to weigh you down, look into the future with bold eyes, and with the mindset of faith in the impossible.

In conclusion, fear and faith are two necessary criteria needed in the journey of life. The ability to nurture both will go a long way in shaping not only our personal lives, but also our professional lives.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator.  He’s the founder of Gloemi. He’s a Transformative Human Capacity and Mindset coach. He is also a public speaker, youth advocate, creative writer and author of Design Your Destiny and Unleash Your Destiny.  He can be reached via

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