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Editorial: 2023 Elections, Nigerian Democracy and Its Self-Destructive Lacunae

Editorial: 2023 Elections, Nigerian Democracy and Its Self-Destructive Lacunae


By Daberechukwu Egbo

Remember your secondary school subjects, History and Government, where you were taught that democracy is a government of the people, a government by the people and a government for the people. You were taught – no one is above the law in a democratic society; the rule of law which is also equality of the law prevails; the rights of the citizens shall be protected and respected; through citizen participation the will of the people should be the basis of government authority and all individuals are equal and should not be discriminated against regardless of their race, religion, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation.

Remember how you learnt our nation’s democracy is rooted in our constitution and in order to have an effective and successful democratic society, the democratic government has to abide by certain principles which are largely part of the Nigerian Constitution. These principles of democracy are enshrined in section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

Section 14 (1) states:

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.”

Section 14 (2) further provided that:


“(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and

(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

In the reality of Nigeria, the practice of democracy is quite different from the real theory of what democracy should be. Recent events have shown how increasingly derelict our dear nation’s democratic system has become. For instance, take a look at the recently concluded 2023 Presidential elections in which Nigerians devoted their faith, hope and confidence in, but turned out to be the bane of turbulence and emotional despair among citizens, especially the youths, as a result of questionable events and circumstances surrounding the outcome of the election. 

An effective democratic system requires that the law be equally, justly and regularly enforced, which is the due process of law. However, government’s neglect for due process and its oppressive approach to leadership, policies, polity and governance has led to quite a lot of human rights abuses, violations and restrictions.


The system of government in a nation plays a vital role in setting the tone for the citizens. It has the ability to affect and influence the way citizens relate with one another, and above all, the way they think and value their country. If the people are to fully enjoy their rights then there’s a need for the enforcement of the rule of law and the stronger protection of citizens rights according to provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.

Since the constitution is based on the focal foundation of democracy, and the nucleus of democracy is the people, it means that the people, the citizenry of Nigeria is supreme; at the top most hierarchy of government. As the former President of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj rightly puts it, “Democracy literally means the power of people. Democracy is not about politics, it is about the people.” It behoves on every democracy, just as Nigeria should legally be, to value, respect and be unquestionably and totally loyal to the people.

It is up to the Nigerian government and its citizens to ensure that democracy becomes what it should be, more than just words, but a practical system of government in which laws, policies, leadership of a nation are decided by the “people”, where the will of the people should be the basis of government authority. A democratic nation thrives when the voice of the people stands tall; when the power lies in the hands of the people, and beyond all odds, the leaders govern the people in a way they don’t lose the trust of the people. Anything short of this, no matter how near it may come close to this, is at best a quasi-democracy. To put it straight, it is either democracy or it is not.

An undisputable aspect of democracy that cannot be swept aside is the electoral process of a state. If the electoral process of any democracy is shady and short of the people’s trust, that is the beginning of the death of such democracy because those elected through such faulty electoral process can rarely earn the wilful trust, legitimacy and faith of the people in the government. What is a democratic government without the faith of its people?


Blanche Lincoln, a former United States Senator said it best, “Voters must have faith in the electoral process for our democracy to succeed.”  Nigerian democracy must take every step possible to gain the trust of the Nigerian people in her electoral process. 

Democracy is not a thing you get done doing, it is a thing you keep doing, it is always growing either to the positive gradient or to the negative gradient depending on how much the government value the rights and freedom of its people. 

As Nigeria celebrates the swearing in of a new government led by the President-Elect, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and her Democracy Day, it is a time to reflect on the lacunae in our democracy and begin to intentionally get them fixed. The Nigerian governing system is faulty, and as a matter of urgency, President-Elect Tinubu must intentionally begin to restructure the system, one lacuna at a time. 


Our accomplishment of these border on implementing measures like: creating a platform for honest feedback/dialogue communication system between the people, and encouraging civil liberties and access to information, supporting initiatives that promote freedom of speech, encouraging the efficient practice of checks and balances among the arms of government. 

The former President of the United States already left a warning for all states when he said, “Nations do not die from invasion; they die from internal rottenness.” Every democracy heads to an ensured suicide once the government ignores the basic values of democracy, which always is as a result of rotten practices and corruption trampling on the right, power and freedom of the people. The state is the people, and in that case, the government must save itself from itself by giving the state back to the people.

Just like a Professor of Strategic Management, Prof Okey Ikechukwu spoke rightly at the 2022 Frontier Discourse Public Lecture and Awards organised by Pacesetter Frontier Magazine, “The pillars of value must be restored or the change we’re looking for will not occur….” All the values of democracy must be enthroned and upheld in no time before we as a nation get to the yielding point of the citizens’ absent-mindedness, patience and tolerance.


Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.

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