THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN AFRICA
THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN AFRICA: PERSPECTIVES ON NIGERIAS APRIL 2011 ELECTIONS
- SULE BELLO
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
A.B.U SAMARU ZARIA
Histories, theories and ideologies of democratic revolutions
Sources, nature and conduct of African politics and democratization processes.
The successes and problems of March 2011 elections in Nigeria
Nigeria and the challenge of democratization in Africa
- Nigeria’s Nationalist-cum-Democratic Politics: its Transformation under Military rule.
- Scope of Political influences on the democratization process in Nigeria
- Justice and the rule of law as the foundations of democratic politics.
The recent election of March 2011 in Nigeria greatly provoked, in a number of ways, the debate on the possibilities as well as feasibilities, of democracy in Africa. This article looks at the character of nationalist activities in Africa in terms of their origins and development as, principally, struggles against colonialism in favour of decolonization. In this regard free and popular African participation in political activities were expected to provide the bases for both national and regional independence, as well as their relative integration and overall development. The paper looks at the prospects of democratization in Africa in the context of Africa’s politics, as well as in the light of Nigeria’s 2011 elections. In addition it examines these issues on the basis of Africa’s internal political and economic structures, as well as its external relations. The paper concludes that the key obstacles to democratization in Africa are the entrenched local, as well as global, interests that are ill-disposed to the full and general expression of popular sovereignty on the continent, in general, and Nigeria in particular. Each African state is, on its own, faced with the dilemma of either working in favour of its national and popular interests or succumbing to the imperious designs of some of its elites, and their foreign “partners”.
In many ways the politics of the last half of the 20th century, and the opening decades of the 21st century, constitute unifying and accelerated processes of democratization in the world. The highlights of these processes were symbolized in the defeat of Fascism at the end of the 2nd World War as well as the rise of anti-imperialism and nationalism in the ‘third world’ resulting in the achievement of independence in most of these colonies in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s which, in turn, facilitated their various attempts at sovereign and self-determined tasks of nation-building. The collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R), as well as the more recent rise of popular protests in favour of democratization in many parts of North Africa and the Middle East, in addition to the on-going popular opposition to what many have characterized as “corporate greed” in many parts of Europe and the United States of America (U.S.A), tend to indicate the growing scope and relevance of democratization in world, or global, affairs.
Democracy has thus, broadly as well as increasingly, tended to become associated with processes of national liberation, nation-building and the promotion of citizenship rights based on political activities, and choices, anchored on the expression of popular sovereignty, in each country, as well as in the context of international relations. The widespread popularity of democracy as a mode for political action, and relations, is based on the fact that it is necessarily a neutral, non-partisan and unbiased process that basically facilitates, as well as guarantees, freedom of expression, and choices, between competing ideologies and candidates in an orderly, free, fair and credible manner at various levels.
The March 2011 Elections in Nigeria, despite some problems of credibility along with the violent upheavals associated with it, exhibited some indicators worthy of critical interest and attention. The election, the Federal government claimed, was the most expensive ever-with over N130bn expended by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) alone. This disclosure was made by President Jonathan when he was trying to convince the country to adopt a single tenure of seven years for the President and Governors immediately after the 2011 elections. He stated that “the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), spent as much as N130 billion in conducting the last election besides the much more expended by other agencies and political stakeholders” (Vanguard Newspaper, 13th Sept. 2011). There was no reference to funding from foreign source. In many ways the elections also exhibited the highest and most extensive level of foreign involvement ever, in terms of both its organization and execution. It, furthermore, took place under conditions which many observers refer to as “neo-military” rather than a truly democratic republic, given the extent of the centralization of power characterizing it. The conduct of the election was however, in general, adjudged to be freer and fairer than the elections of 2007 and, in the judgment of many, those of 2003 and 1999 as well. Furthermore it also indicated some measure of official responsiveness to public pressures, in relation to popular demands for some political reforms, by the national officialdom.
The often quoted statement of Abraham Lincoln to the effect that “Democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people” is a good indicator that democracy can only be possible where popular sovereignty truly reigns. Democracy is, for this reason, essentially a form of political activity associated with states in which the principle of public determination of public affairs is dominant. It is thus associated primarily with the evolution of modern nation-states in their many varied forms. It is for this reason that we also need to look at the peculiar and distinct socio-historical contexts in various countries, under which the struggle from an imperial subject people and territory, to nation-hood, took place in order to appreciate the actual origins of democratic demands, structures and problems ,in both their national as well as their international contexts. Failure to pay attention to such important socio-historical distinctions, particularly in the study of African politics, has led to many wild generalizations that have only promoted a misunderstanding, rather than any objective appreciation, of African politics and its democratization processes. The essay draws attention to the fact that although free, lawful and fair elections are important in the promotion and determination of the democratic credentials of any given political system it needs to be understood that electoral outcomes are also largely dependent on many other relevant and, indeed, more primary political and economic functions. An important aspect to this is the fact that in verifying various democratic practices, either individually or collectively, the most essential consideration is the extent to which they are founded on, or validate, expressions of popular sovereignty in the communities concerned.
In the struggle for Africas independence, and the democratic rights of its inhabitants, challenges to the assertion of popular sovereignty were expressed at two important levels. The first is that the struggle for the liberation of African countries from foreign imperial control took various forms under different conditions, ranging from armed resistances, to more peaceful processes of political struggle in the form of public demonstrations, civil disobedience and other forms of “positive action”. The second is that the outcome of both of such struggles, in terms of their democratic relevance, impact and potentials, have also been generally and continuously contested, and reversed, by the imperial powers mainly through the so-called Cold War. In other words the Pan-African, anti-imperial, anti-colonial and nationalist character of Africa’s political struggle for independence and democratization did not remain, or develop, in an unopposed and unimpeded manner. It was consistently challenged, and in a number of cases reversed or forestalled, by those opposed to both independence and democratization in favour of the retention of the colonial status quo. Varied, as well as numerous and persistent cases of foreign intervention, designed to undo the possibilities of independence, in order to retain imperial influences and structures, constitute the principal expressions of opposition to both sovereignty and democratization in Africa.
Nigeria’s role in the development of Africa’s democratization is not only dependent on the extent to which it is, itself, democratized but also on the extent to which, in conjunction with other countries in the region, they are together able to move in the direction of a united, sovereign, democratic and economically integrated continent. In order for this to happen Nigeria need to overcome its current problems of democratization which define the Fourth Republic in a manner that makes it unique in a number of ways.
Histories, Theories and Ideologies of Democratic Revolutions.
A discussion of democratization in Africa needs to examine the issues in the context of Africa’s historical evolution as well as define the categories, conduct and character of Africa’s politics on the basis of the substantive issues, and relations, responsible for its development. The extent to which prevalent and dominant imperial ideologies determine both policy prescriptions as well as academic perspectives on issues of development in Africa is reflected in a number of works dealing with the subject (Aime-Cesaire, 1972; Ake, 1982; Frederick, 1996). There is, for this reason, a need to study these issues in the light of all available evidence if valid and objective inferences, as well as broad generalizations, are to be scientifically arrived at.
An important problem in the discussion of political issues generally, and those that concern western imperialism in Africa in particular, is the need to distinguish between scientific procedure, on the one hand, and issues relating to ideological propaganda, or public relations, on the other. This is why it is important to base our discussions on substantive and verifiable evidence, as well as distinguish theory from ideology in order to be able to critically evaluate both. The key stumbling block in this regard is not only the extent to which imperial ideologies attempt the promotion of their own interests but also the absolute and exclusive manner in which they lay monopolistic claims on principles that constitute the common values, and heritage, of humanity such as freedom, development, human rights or democracy per se. This problem of imperial absolutism, and the opposition between what it claims and what it actually does, usually referred to as double- standard, has led many to criticize its views as double-faced, self-serving and self-contradicting claims. It is in this respect that Ali Mazrui characterized the conduct of the Western powers as something akin to those of the fictional character in the novel titled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Mazrui, 2010).
This study is based on the understanding that western imperial control, as argued by Rodney (1972) and Fanon, (1967), has not only constituted the bane of development in Africa but that contemporary western interventionist policies, particularly as manifested by the Cold War, constitute active designs by European imperial powers, and the USA, to reverse and contain the successful trends towards political independence, as well as local economic control and diversification that is represented in Africa’s liberation struggles. This has, in turn, led to various attempts towards undermining both national and popular sovereignty on the continent, by such powers, despite numerous claims to the contrary.
Until recently most imperial viewpoints, championed by “neo-classical” economists and ‘neo-liberals’, tend to promote the impression that politics ought to be, and remain, divorced from economics. After many years associated with the consistent failures of the various economic development policies they have imposed on Africa they, finally, came round to advocating for “good governance” and “democratic” politics as the most required factors toward achieving economic development in Africa, in addition to being the major defences against the consistent tendency for foreign-imposed economic policies, and programmes, failing the continent. The logic of this so-called “reforms” by the self-styled “donor” agencies is that it is designed to combat “dictatorship”, “corruption” and “human rights abuses” which have always acted as bottlenecks against the successful and transparent implementation of the policies they had imposed. This conclusion is, however, not only wrong but also decisively evasive. In the first place the fact that these policies were not only formulated by foreign interests but also designed to promote foreign interests, which should have been the most logical explanation of why they all failed to develop the local economies in the first place, was simply not considered or examined. Similarly the assumption that abuse of human rights, corruption and dictatorship was only a local phenomena associated exclusively with African dictators negates the evidence of how Western interventionism in general, and the conduct of its Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) in particular, greatly undermined popular independence and democratic movements, as well as regimes, in favour of monarchical, military and civilian dictators, along with their inherent tendencies to human rights abuses, corruption and the politics of god-fatherism (Mamdani, 2004, P. 229ff; Blum, 2009, P. 125ff; Bello, 2010).
In addition, views which tend to present the development of democracies from a Eurocentric perspective as entirely exclusive to certain regions, states or races tend to presume that their development in other places is only, or primarily, the outcome of some processes of diffusion from particular centres of their origination thereby perceiving general struggles for freedom in narcissistic terms, rather than as the manifestation of a universal tendency to freedom by humanity, in general, and oppressed peoples in particular. Talking of democratization as merely some fleeting “wind of change” or international tidal “waves” as Macmillan and Huntington have, respectively, characterized them tend to give the impression that these are essentially extraneous influences on some dormant, and static, societies from certain active epicenters (Huntington, 1991; Myers, 2000; Ferrara, 2011). Indeed in reality most colonies tended to struggle for their freedom from the very same imperial powers which, variously, claim to be democratic as well. However developments in each and every society reflect, above all else, the very conditions under which they have arisen, even if these were greatly influenced by factors extraneous to the societies in question. Indeed social development in general, and democratization in particular, arise more as diverse types of bubbles in different places, under definite circumstances, leading to their increasing growth and fusion through various processes of expansion, and adaptation, partially expressed in the form of alliances, and cooperation, with similar movements, institutions and regimes (Baechler, 1995, Pp 145-164).
Democracies are the product of social revolutions against feudal, or colonial, empires designed to promote the total independence of the polities or future nation-states concerned, and its citizens, on the basis of the principles of popular sovereignty. Political choices, struggles and institutions associated with democratization are defined by efforts, and trends, towards the public determination of public affairs at three important levels. In the first place they tend towards the promotion of free expressions, and choices, by individuals as the most important bases for the selection of political representatives as well as the promotion of popular participation towards the public determination of public policies. In the second place the process redefines the polity more and more away from aristocratic or imperial control, and privileges, towards an independent and sovereign nation-state governed by its own constitution. Finally, the nation also participates as an independent member, in external or foreign relations with other states supposedly on the basis of its own popularly determined interests.
Contemporary democracies are, in terms of their general evolution, associated with important historical antecedents which developed in various forms under different conditions. These were always propelled by the universal tendency for human beings to struggle for freedom, justice and dignity under whichever conditions they found themselves. This, in turn, also imply that they always tended to oppose domination, injustice and corruption as practices subversive of common, or public, interests in many diverse ways. It was such a consistent inclination towards opposing domination, in favour of freedom, that led to the increasing assertion of two basic social principles in politics in various forms and places, at different times. These principles, in common, tended to enhance the practice of public participation in, and control over, public affairs. The first was popular participation in decision making while the second was popular control over the conduct of selected, or elected, representatives and executives. These were always represented in various forms, as well as in varying degrees, in all human societies. While various examples of democratic antecedents, in the forms referred to here, were represented in various ways in different places it needs to be emphasized that in both acephalous and state societies gyrontocratic or autocratic, rather than democratic, politics predominated. This was the case with the slave societies of the Greek city-states and the Roman Empire as well as many other precolonial African states, empires and communities.
The tendencies to popular, and republican, control of political activities noted above therefore stood in sharp contrast to the more common, and opposite, tendency towards exclusive, usually dynastic, political control geared to the promotion only of the interests of a minority in control of power. These autocratic systems of political control were variously defined as gyrontocracies, slavocracy, monocracy or plutocracies-symbolizing powerful social forces, and classes, that control society in their favour, and towards the exploitation of a majority of its population.
Wherever substantial opposition developed against feudalism, as it did in Western Europe, or against colonial imperialism as happened in many European colonies all over the world, such democratic antecedents were usually identified, uncovered, revivified and adopted in the context of much broader and deeper political revolutions, geared to a transition from empire to nation-hood in which both the polity and its citizens, were presumed sovereign, and capable of determining their own futures. Thus modern democracies are generally the outcome of popular, and distinct, forms of political revolutions against specific systems of imperial hegemony in terms of social, political and economic relations (Ossowska, 1970 P. 57 ff; Davidson, 1981; Baechler, 1995).
The first set of nation-states that arose in Europe such as Britain, France, Germany etc. were born out of revolutionary struggles to free their societies from the domination of an empire that was feudal, theocratic and ‘medieval’ in character. The second set of nation states to undergo democratic revolutions were led by settler colonists, in the form of USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa etc who struggled against the domination of their imperial mother countries. These had, however, significant and unresolved problems in terms of the freedom of their indigenous and minority racial population, as well as women and social underclasses. Finally, the colonial revolt by the ‘native’ populations in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Middle East in favour of decolonization gave rise to the development of contemporary third world nations. Thus while these various nations struggling for democracy share certain common features, it is also obvious that they differ from one another on account of the nature, conditions and structures that define the problems, and character, of their domination and, therefore, their democratic struggles. (Baechler, 1995; Frederick, 1996; Mamdani, 2004)
As many writers have shown, contemporary politics and democratization processes in the third world is generally defined by its anti-imperial character. (Nkrumah, 1965; Davidson, 1981; Mazrui and Tidy, 1987). African politics, as well as its democratization processes, in terms of structures, objectives, and strategies is primarily defined in relation to the struggle for Africa’s unity, independence and development. The struggle to transform the colonial system into an independent, free, diversified and integrated economic system has always been greatly opposed, and resisted by imperial powers in favour of the continued subordination, control and exploitation of African economies. Due to such a crisis many activists, politicians and scholars have tended to characterize the post-independence, or post-colonial, period as the continuation of pre-existing colonial, and dependent, relations in new, or neo-colonial forms. The question of national independence, as opposed to foreign control, has thus not only tended to define the struggle between the forces of decolonization, on the one hand, and the imperial powers, on the other, but has also become the major bone of contention in respect of whether or not the inherited colonial status quo should be substantially changed (Palmberg, 1982; Davidson, 1992; Ake, 1996).
What therefore partly defines democratization process in Africa has to do with an indirect attempt to contain its independence, in order to maintain the colonial status quo, by the U.S and its NATO allies. This, in turn, involves various types of foreign intervention, designed to facilitate control over African affairs by western imperial powers. This, furthermore, is done in a context within which the denial of malevolent interventionism, on the one hand, as well as the contradictory profession of a more public-relations oriented and therefore benevolent commitment to Africas freedom, on the other hand, increasingly comes to define both the ideology and practice of the neo-colonial powers. In other words there is a crisis, on the part of the neo-colonial powers, between an expressed commitment to democratization and their realpolitik, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of imperial relations. This contradiction is occasionally identified in the form of discrepancy between words and deeds as hypocrisy vs democracy. In the field of realpolitik however, this is expressed as impunity, generally, as well as in the form of subversive and covert activities, in particular (Stockwell, 1979; Mamdani, 2004; Nnoli, 2010).
In support of the above perspective most current studies see the conduct of the western powers, who generally define themselves as the “leaders” of the “free world”, as the major threat to democratic development in the world. In respect of Africa many independent scholars indicate that the interventionist activities of the western powers constitute the greatest threat to both independence and democracy in the region (Ake, 1996). Similarly many other studies and commentaries also indicate that the efforts of these same powers towards exercising exclusive and undemocratic control over the affairs of the United Nations, through vetoes as opposed to votes, also constitute the major source of the opposition to the democratization of United Nations system, in particular, and the conduct of international relations in general (Adeniran, 1988; Mathews, 1988; Ake, 1992). Finally a number of studies, which are currently supported by widespread demonstrations in Europe and the USA, claim that what is promoted as multi-party democracies in the western nations are but only some kind of Hobson’s choices in the form of advanced plutocracies, where the interests of the majority are either subordinated to, or disregarded, in favour of those of a wealthy few (Frederick, 1996 P. 335ff).
Sources, Nature and Conduct of African Politics
As earlier indicated a major shortcoming of many discussions on African politics is that they are hardly based on the actual, and relevant, evidence in terms of the activities, conditions and relations defining them at any given time.
Such shortcomings, as Hodgkins (1976) observed, derive partly from the fact that African politics, much like African history, was also considered to be non-existent by most Eurocentric scholars. The result of such misperceptions is that a number of discussions on African politics tend to be superficial, amounting to no more than the promotion of some foreign interventionist agenda in Africa, along with associated attempts at imposing foreign points of views, and policies, on its population. These are generally characterized as “westernization”, “modernization” or “political development”. For these reasons we need to pay heed to what Hodgkins referred to as the need to study African politics with reference to “those who were actually making African politics” in the form of its political movements, thinkers, activists and statesmen by paying attention to the actual development of PanAfricanism, and African nationalism, in association with the key figures involved in them (Mutiso and Rohio, 1975; Hodgkin, 1976, PP. 6 – 16; Abdul-Raheem, 1986; Lipede, 2001).
In order to properly appraise African politics we therefore need to identify the agencies, principles and strategies associated with the assertion, liberation and management of Africa’s common affairs through efforts to control, and use, public power in the pursuit, and defense, of its own interests. A number of factors contributed towards the evolution of African politics in addition to giving it a certain focus, coherence and drive as a struggle for freedom, in the form of both national and popular sovereignty. In the first place the process, as a whole was associated with the struggle for freedom from Trans-Atlantic slave trafficking, and slavery, that engulfed a number of African societies since the 15th century. It was further associated with the struggle for the decolonisation of the African continent. Lastly it has, since independence, become associated with the struggle for the sovereign development of African states. The nature of this struggle is most epitomized in the conduct of the so-called “Cold War” which still rages on between Africa and the Western powers.
It is important to categorize political activities in Africa into two forms in order to fully appreciate the common nature, and character, of African politics. We will differentiate them into politics in Africa, on the one hand, and African politics, on the other.
Politics in Africa refers to the various types of political activities, as well as the various traditions and legacies associated with them, in Africa. These include specific forms of precolonial politics, in addition to the exclusive conduct of imperial political activities in Africa. These, generally tend to reflect interests which are in some senses exclusive and could not therefore be described as reflecting common African positions, in terms of their principles or expressions. It is however important to draw attention to the fact that the legacy of African precolonial systems, in terms of their typology, values, functions and development have not only served as important sources of inspiration but have also helped towards the formulation of PanAfrican ideologies by its political thinkers, ideologues and activists. African politics, in general, and Pan-African politics, in particular, refer to the evolution, assertion and promotion of a common African political agenda, and identity, committed to the collective unity, liberation and development of Africans at home, or in the diaspora. PanAfricanism was, for example, connected with the struggles against slavery and for the independent status of Ethiopia, as well as the development of an independent republic in Haiti, in addition to the return of freed slaves to Africa, resulting in the establishment of Liberia and Sierra Leone, not to mention its commitment to the liberation of all the colonized territories in Africa. Furthermore it was part of the vanguard for the struggle against imperialism and racism at the level of international relations especially through the PanAfrican Congresses it organized, the Negritude movement it precipitated, and the various global alliances it promoted leading to the formation of the Non-Alligned Movement. PanAfricanism was thus greatly, if not wholly, responsible for the articulation, organization and pursuit of African Liberation and, in the process, the projection of its democratic ideals, conduct and principles which are clearly represented in the evolution of contemporary Africa’s political thought, theories, programmes and projects associated with it. These have come to constitute the intellectual foundations, as well as the global organizational structures and expressions, of Africa’s struggle for freedom and democratization, in its entirety. The Literature on PanAfricanism is vast and very critical to a proper understanding, and promotion, of African politics. There is need for some general studies on PanAfircanism along the lines conducted by Immanuel Geiss, (1974). There is, furthermore, a greater need for more focused studies along the line indicated in some works on the subject (Mutiso and Rohio, 1976; Abdul-Raheem, 1986; Lipede, 2001). Such studies will be required to cover new themes like economic thought, international diplomacy and gender issues, in addition to other more indepth studies of specific geographical areas, or subjects, and biographies. It is the neglect of the evidence of PanAfricanism that makes possible the uninformed discussions of so-called African politics which hardly touch on the specific activities, issues, structures and relations actually defining it.
What formal colonial conquest, and occupation, facilitated for the imperial powers was control over policy making in the colonies, allowing for the imperial restructuring of Africa’s hitherto diversified and integrated economies into mono-cultural ones, designed to satisfy foreign, rather than local, needs in addition to making the establishment of foreign monopoly control over Africa’s economic resources possible.
The struggle to roll back the independence of African states, which became particularly noticeable during the Cold War, was purposely designed towards the reclamation and retention, as well as the deepening, of colonial structures and relations rather than their undoing. Some studies of the so-called Cold War hardly ever mention Africa as an important factor defining its evolution, conduct and consequences. An example of this is the book edited by Morgan, P.M and K. L. Nelson, (2000), titled Reviewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East West Confrontation, in which Africa is hardly mentioned despite its strategic economic and political significance in the conflict, as indicated in Mamdani’s work (2004).
An important strand running through the history of African politics is the extent to which its tendency to struggle for freedom, towards the sovereign conduct of its own affairs, have consistently been countered by foreign imperial powers in favour of their own domination. It is for this reason that the history of Africas political development, since the colonial times, is usually seen in terms of the activities of those resisting, or collaborating with, the imperial powers. Thus the issue of collaboration with, or resistance against, foreign imperial activities in Africa also tend to greatly define the nature of impunity on the continent. This is expressed in terms of foreign imperial patronage and rewards for its collaborators, on the one hand, as well as punitive measures against those, in any way, opposed to it on the other.
Indeed the centrality of imperialism, in the determination of the nature of African politics, is reflected in the fact that even the imperial powers characterize political activities only with reference to the same phenomena-along the lines of collaboration versus resistance, albeit from an opposite point of view. The imperial powers see those collaborating with them as “moderates” and even project, as well as promote, them as “pro-democracy activists”. Those opposed to them, and committed to unconditional independence were usually referred to as “extremists”. Those who, furthermore, were willing to resist colonial imposition by force, where these became necessary, were in turn usually referred to as “terrorists” (Palmberg, 1982 PP. 27 – 47). From an African point of view the same categories are usually referred to as collaborators, nationalists and freedom fighters in that order.
Colonial legacies signifying subordination and extroversion, expressed in the form of national political and bureaucratic structures; educational curricula and monocultural economies; or in the character of subordinate partnership in foreign relations, continue to constitute major institutional, as well as structural, constraints to African countries in their quest for independence, democratization and development.
Economic dependency, rather than self-reliance, makes virtually all the African countries greatly vulnerable to external pressures, and control. This, in turn, tends to greatly undermine their sovereignty and denude the prospects of their democratic development. (Ikoku, 1980 PP. 299 -373). It is important to recall that the protest by Mohammed Bouazizi, the young Algerian who set himself on fire, which precipitated the so-called “Arab Spring”, was occasioned by the fact that despite being an unemployed graduate for many years, when he finally decided to set himself up as a street fruit vendor his fruit cart was confiscicated by public officials. It was in protest against this act of injustice that he finally decided to kill himself. Similar, and probably worse, conditions of widespread and deepening poverty, as well as increasing levels of unemployment, in Nigeria, are indeed daily being further worsened by the fact that job creation is hardly an item on the agenda of Nigeria’s local politicians. On the contrary the problem tends to become further exacerbated through acts of corruption, and official high-handedness, also involving the practice of placing some ban on several self-employed people by both the federal and state governments, occasionally involving the confiscication or destruction of their limited assets. These, moreover, occur in an economic environment in which the industrial sector has almost totally collapsed while the agricultural sector is distinguished only by the neglect, and abuse, to which it has been subjected. Furthermore the abysmal inavailability of infrastructural facilities is only matched by the official inability to account for the massive financial appropriations ostensibly made in favour of their provision. As a result the great deal of disaffection, insecurity and social violence in various parts of the country could be traced to these harsh economic realities as well as the various illegal and high-handed atrocities committed by public officials which include extra-judicial killings, rape and armed robberies not to talk of political thuggery and electoral misconduct, as expressed in many official reports of the various panels set up by government to investigate such incidences.
The extent to which colonial economics and politics, in Africa, were organized against the common interests of the colonized and indigenous peoples is, to some extent, reflected in Peter Ekeh’s work on colonialism (1975). The author sees in the colonial society a dualisation of the colonial public into “modern” and “traditional” realms, with the latter functioning as the “civic” and “moral” realm while the former constitutes the alienated and exploitative realm. The extent to which imperial conceptual categories also hinder the proper understanding of African politics is similarly reflected in the degree to which the article in question is also captive to the perspective of political modernization, which, using the categories of “modern” and “traditional”, becloud the critical issues of political sovereignty, decolonization and nation-building, which are historically associated with Pan-Africanist and Nationalist politics-resulting in a general trend towards undue, and misleading, emphasis on cultural “modernization” or uniformity.
African politics, or public affairs, cannot be projected as essentially some form of “cultural” and “moral” configurations, created by colonialism, and manipulated by its local elites. This perspective tends to assume that the categories of “modern” and “traditional” are objectively real, rather than constructed ideological stereotypes, supposedly reflecting some given and unchanging, as well as foreign and indigenous, formats.
However modernization, as a socio-historical process, cannot be seen to be characteristic of only one culture or race in such a manner that its occurrence is simply conferred on some while denied to other societies and cultures (Ekeh, 1975 PP. 91-112; Gyekye, 1997 PP. 217ff). Similarly the all-important question of the extent to which the colonial system both influenced , as well as redefined, social relations, classes, morality, and the general character of the colonial society, at various levels, were rather treated in keeping with the simplistic imperial hypothesis of “modern” vs “traditional”. In fact as a result of this perspective the various changes, as well as conflicts, associated with the cultural, political and economic nature of the colonial societies concerned, along with the very important structures, agencies and trends critical to the development of African politics, in this regard, were overlooked. For example PanAfricanist, as well as nationalist, forces were hardly reflected in the analyses. This, no doubt, is partly due to the fact that the term “civic public” is defined in the article only in terms of the various agencies of the colonial state, such as the military, the civil service and the police rather than the independent, popular as well as civic, and political, expressions in Africa, in the form of the PanAfricanist or nationalist organizations. As a result major national, cultural, professional, gender, literary and trade union movements as well as organizations and associations, or political parties, which redefined African politics and the struggle for its liberation, were more or less omitted from the discussion (Ekeh, 1975 PP. 91-93). In this connection, it is important to emphasize that a number of studies have, however, shown that the political, economic and cultural profiles, as well as structures, of colonialism, gradually emerged and developed out of a process of socio-cultural changes and fusion leading to important processes of social differentiation, and the development of social classes, which have important implications for colonial politics (Palmberg, 1982 PP. 49 – 77; Davidson 1992 PP 192ff; Bello, 2011). The combined influence of these changes, and the inception of a united struggle against colonialism, was expressed in the emergence of the nationalist struggles. It is important to stress that the struggle against colonialism, in terms of its socio-political composition and outlook, transcended any kind of expression characteristic of ‘primordial’ or ‘colonial’ public. In the main the struggle for independence was neither the reflection of a struggle for any ‘primordial’ order, nor was it generally simply a quest for the reform of the colonial systems. They were rather associated with a visionary, popular as well as national struggle for independent and sovereign nation-states directed against foreign control and exploitation. This was widely reflected in the search for a new society, and political order, depicted in the PanAfricanist and nationalist literature, as well as in the adopted constitution of every individual nation-state in addition to the various manifestoes, and programmes, of their competing political parties. Studies of African politics in the post-colonial period have, unduly, suffered from the ethnocentric biases of many of their practitioners due to the fact that most of such practitioners were colonial administrators, anthropologists and missionaries who, after the independence of African states, took to African studies as “experts”. They thus tended to bring the colonial experiences they garnered in the various tasks they undertook on ethnocentric studies, and “tribal” segregation, in the management of colonial societies to their new tasks of academic discourse, in various areas, with very destructive consequences (Mafeje, 1971; Akinyemi, 1976; Usman, 2003).
Deriving from the observations made above we need to appreciate the defining character of democratization in Africa, as a struggle for both independence and majority rule, found on the basis of universal suffrage, towards the establishment of sovereign nation-states. Its democratic character was embedded in its objectives, and methods, which were geared towards public mobilization in order to promote the public determination, and control, of public affairs. In terms of conduct the nationalist movements aimed at public mobilization through sensitization in order to make the public assert itself politically. They operated at three levels essentially. These were the national, regional and international levels all with a view to the decolonization of the continent.
Firstly colonialism impacted on contemporary Africa in many different ways. The most important ones are in terms of the foreign ownership and control of the region’s most vital economic resources, especially minerals, it was able to effect. The next is in the form of the external control exercised over the continent’s economic structures, institutions and relations. There is, furthermore, the foreign control exercised over the formulation and implementation of its domestic public policies as well as, finally, the control exercised over its external political and diplomatic relations. No wonder these issues still continue to constitute the principal areas of contestation between nationalist elements and neo-colonial powers in Africa today.
Secondly impunity, or the tendency to disregard the rule of law as the key instrument for the defence and promotion of public interests have, in Africa, an imperial and colonial character. Impunity defined the conduct of the imperial powers in all their dealings with African states, whether individually or severally, as well as at the levels of their internal affairs or in terms of their external relations.
Thirdly, in the post-colonial period impunity is expressed in the interventionist conduct of the neo-colonial powers which are designed towards maintaining the imperial status quo, as well as improving the capacity for further indirect control over nominally independent African states. Africas on-going efforts towards the coordinated articulation and administration of its own regional democratization agenda, at various levels, need to be fully supported by many African countries if it is to bear any fruits. It is also on this basis that the common AU opposition to military coups, as well as cases of constitutional abuses and electoral irregularities, by elected African leaders is being promoted. It is also in this regard that calls for coordinated programmes of popular participation in governance, and a common stand in international affairs, need to be promoted. These, indeed, constitute AU’s official position on the democratization of Africa as expressed in some of its policy documents (African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance).
Finally it is important to note and emphasise the fact that the sovereignty of the African continent need to be recognized, and enabled, in the determination of international issues, especially as they relate to and affect it in an equal, participatory, free and democratic manner. Its continual exclusion, and marginalization, in the formulation of decisions which greatly impact on its numerous nation-states and peoples, at various levels, is greatly subversive of its democratization programmes at the level of each nation-state, as well as that of the region in general.
The Achievements Successes and Problems of March 2011 Elections in Nigeria
There is a need to draw attention to a few important factors that define the relative achievements, and problems, of Nigeria’s 2011 elections.
In the first place it was an election that was organized in response to widespread demand for changes in the conduct of electoral administration in the country, in the light of the numerous complaints against the elections of 1999, 2003 and 2007. This led to the establishment of a “National Electoral Reform Committee”, by the then incoming administration of Shehu Musa Yar’adua. The recommendations of the committee were partially accepted by the Jonathan-led administration which oversaw the 2011 general elections.
Secondly, the fact that the training, conduct, outlook and disposition of the regimes of Shehu Musa Yar’adua and Jonathan Goodluck, both of which came into power after 2007, were more civic, assuring and cultivated in their relations to the public also greatly did a lot to convince members of the public that the government was committed to free and fair elections. This was further reinforced by the reorganization of INEC, and the various campaigns it also undertook along similar lines.
Finally there was widespread support from various countries and the United Nations , as well as various NGOs, that also greatly helped towards cultivating an image of transparency, due process and acceptability for the anticipated elections.
Although the elections were adjudged to have been rigged, by a number of people as well as most of the opposition political parties in addition to the violent outbursts associated with its outcome, especially in the northern parts of the country, these did not seem to have negated the fact that there was something different about it. What was different, many people believed, was the fact that despite the various problems indicated, it was a far better and more credible attempt than the elections of 1999, 2003 and those of 2007. Many people saw in it a promise towards the possibilities of, and the potential for, the realization of the nations dream towards popular democracy. This was particularly important in the light of the increasing tendencies to dictatorship represented in the other elections since the inception of the Fourth Republic. Indeed, to many, the elections provided some measure of vindication to the effect that real democracy, rather than some endless and fruitless agitation for it, might indeed be possible.
Many studies (Bello, 2007; Nnoli 2010; Nnamani, 2010; Balogun, 2011) therefore, in the lights of the above, indicate that in order for Nigeria to successfully consolidate and promote the development of democracy as well as contribute to the overall democratization of the continent it needs to address and overcome certain important challenges. The key challenge is the need for the regime in power to transparently address the problems of democratization specific to the country on the basis of its own laws, and in the interests of the nation. In order to fully appreciate these issues there is a need to cast a cursory glance at Nigeria’s struggle for independence in relation to its democratization processes.
- Nigeria’s Nationalist-Cum-Democratic Politics: its Transformation Under Military Rule
The struggle for independence in Nigeria was led by a number of political parties. They were supported by popular, national, civic and professional associations in the form of trade unions, womens organizations etc. The achievement of independence was expressed in the termination of colonial occupation, on the one hand, and the evolution of a constitutional, federal and republican Nigeria on the other. Military interventions in Nigeria, which started in January 1966, lasted up to May 1999, the only exception was the period between 1979 and 1983, when the Second Republic, dominated by political parties with roots in earlier nationalist movements, prevailed. The long period of military rule in Nigeria had a very deep impact on the country’s current politics. It was an impact that greatly undermined both nationalism and democracy in favour of dictatorial trends. It also greatly undermined federalism as well as respect for popular sovereignty and constitutionalism. This dictatorial legacy greatly contributed to the abortion of the Third Republic as well as the dictatorial tendencies of the prevailing Fourth Republic, in many ways. The extent to which military rule changed the nature of Nigeria’s politics is partly reflected in the fact that some veteran politicians used to refer to the dominant military Junta as “militicians” while some scholars see the Fourth Republic as more of a “neo-military”, than a democratic, expression (Balogun, 2011 P. 185ff).
In the first place due to the popular, nationalist and PanAfrican character of the politics of the First, and to some extent the Second, Republics they were substantially Federal, Republican and Constitutional in orientation, pursuing policies which were relatively popular and independent, as well as inclined towards the increasing diversification, indigenization and integration of the local economies at both the national and regional levels.
In the second place the conduct of electoral politics, during the First and Second Republics, although subjected to a good deal of abuse, were still substantially moderated by the then prevailing systems of checks and balances in the form of federalism, virile opposition parties and through the relative enforcement of the rule of law. This also made it possible for opposition parties, through various types of local as well as national alliances, to check, politically, the tendency to impunity. The autonomous nature of the regions, and the formidable federal structure resultant from this, as well as the relative administrative decentralization associated with same, also made it possible to exert checks and balances on impunity.
In the third place a key and game-changing outcome of military rule was political centralization leading to the top-down transmission of public policies and appointments, as well as the modalities for general administration, rather than the determination of such through independent processes of popular political mobilization. In association with this, the Cold War in general, and military dictatorships in particular, all over Africa, gradually subverted nationalist politics through the various campaigns of vilification, assassinations, overthrow and other forms of harassment of nationalist leaders, as well as the practice of banning all democratic activities, parties and constitutions. In addition they also further introduced the process of organizing, or administering, public and civic associations as well as political parties on the basis of what can be called command and control, or patronage, system. As a result independently formulated policies, in particular, and independent political associations or parties in general, were systematically undermined by most military regimes in line with the political objectives of the Cold War in Africa, and thus in association with the relevant foreign “partners” or powers. These efforts resulted into some general assaults on all pro-independence political expressions, under some general opposition to “ideology”, as well as the corresponding exertion of a policy of foreign indebtedness on each African country by the western powers, which eventually made it possible for them to drain them of huge financial ‘interests’ as well as exercise control over policy formulation in such countries. The western nations pursue a uniform political agenda which only supports subservient and compliant dictators while opposing, censoring and disabling all pro-independence leaders or movements, in one way or another, including the promotion of covert operations under the guise of “democratic” or electoral support programmes (Nkrumah, 1965 P. 239ff; Blum, 2000, P. 168 -179). This is also why the political options promoted in the so-called “democratic” systems advocated by the western powers deny self-determination, in favour of a single policy alternative, or Hobsons choice: – the one imposed by the same western powers. As a result, in all of the African countries, there arose a similar trend defined by the external imposition of Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP), along with “privatization” and “deregulation” programmes formulated, and administered, by the World Bank and the IMF on behalf of the western powers. The most important feature of this imposed policy is that although it has never succeeded in any country in the world it has always, persistently, been imposed on weaker nations at the expense of more informed, and popularly determined, economic development plans formulated at their own national and regional levels. As such this policy has only led to massive drain of human and material resources from the countries concerned, in favour of the more developed countries. In addition it has also greatly resulted in the processes of leadership selection, at both the political and technocratic levels, coming under the control of the World Bank and the IMF. It is despite this very real, and contradictory, process of teleguided political and economic determinism in Africa, that the same powers also pontificate about “democratization” — as if it were not supposed to determine both policy and leadership options based on popular, and sovereign, choices. In effect what this only tends to achieve is the provision of a semblance of legitimacy to a system of external control that is totally devoid of morality, accountability or responsibility (Mihevc, 1995 PP 86 – 102).
It was the combined effects of popular agitation against military dictatorships associated with such policies, as well as the determination of the military to remain in power, that greatly account for the distinctly flawed and fraudulent character of electoral processes underlying the endless transitions from military to democratic rule in Nigeria(Olagunju, etal, 1993; Oseni (ed.), 1999). Legacies of military rule in Nigeria have also greatly influenced electoral administration under the Fourth Republic. These influences are reflected at several levels. Key among these are the country’s economically dysfunctional federal structure; the all-powerful position of the president in the presidential system; the consequences of the denudation of nationalist politics in favour of its increasing external subservience, and the increasing degree of foreign intervention in the determination of the country’s affairs, which all tend to combine and define the politics, or failures, of the Fourth Republic as something greatly alien to the democratic, federal and republican spirit, as well as letter, of the nations Constitution. This also tends to explain the lack of any clear, original and purposive goals, or ideologies on the part of the various political parties of the Fourth Republic, in relation to the country’s prevailing problems of poverty, violent conflicts and economic underdevelopment. As a result of these various factors the fourth Republic has become especially distinguished by its tendencies to god-fatherism, along with the associated abuse of power by incumbents which, in turn, greatly breed injustice, corruption, communal violence and increasing degrees of foreign involvement in the internal affairs of the nation (Imobighe, 2003; Nnamani, 2004; Alubo, 2006; Iwebunor, 2007).
- Scope of Political Influences on the Democratization Process in Nigeria
A broad survey of commentaries on the various influences critical to the democratization process in Nigeria indicate seven significant factors shaping its nature, relevance and trends in Nigeria. These are (i) the structure of international relations and the processes of globalization (ii) The degree of regional coordination towards democratization within Africa and (iii) The extent to which constitutionalism, and the rule of law, dictate the national conduct of democratic politics. Others are (iv) The level of development of democratic culture within the polity, (v) The conduct and effectiveness of the opposition parties,(vi) the degree of independence, or autonomy, enjoyed by electoral institutions and agencies as well as (vii) the extent to which democracy and democratization are considered, and treated, as important national security concerns. Let us examine how each of these impacts on the democratization process in Nigeria.
Many studies (Ake, 1996; Mamdani, 2004) draw attention to the fact that both Africa and Nigeria need to assert themselves, independently, at the global level in order to secure, as well as promote, their democratic rights at every level. In particular this is seen as the only manner in which they could both protect themselves from foreign as well as local predation(Nnoli, 2010; Nwolise, 2010).
Secondly, and deriving from the above, many writers draw attention to the fact that in the very manner that the liberation of all African countries was only made possible on the basis of PanAfrican unity, its democratization and economic development could not in any way be otherwise. There is thus the need for an independent regional agenda towards the coordination and promotion of democracy in Africa. This is because in their isolated capacities African countries lack the political, diplomatic, military and economic capabilities to withstand pressures against their independence from foreign powers. This is also why the region remains marginal in international affairs, where it is yet to fight for its democratic rights and protect itself from the impunity of the powers that be (Ake, 1996).
Thirdly democracy in Nigeria could not be effectively, and sustainably, achieved without due regard to the nations Constitution as well as respect for its laws, and in response to the wishes of its peoples (Nnamani, 2010).
In the fourth place the deliberate cultivation and promotion of democratic culture in the polity, anchored on patriotic commitment to national and public interests, is seen by many to be at a very low ebb. These values need to be strongly promoted through the exemplary conduct of the national leadership, as well as activities of the elites at various levels-such as in schools, residential districts, work places and political parties. Democracy is necessarily an exercise in nation-building, as well as a citizenship acculturation programmes, in favour of common and constitutional interests (National Council on Inter-governmental Relations, 1994).
In the fifth place many people, including virtually all the observer teams associated with 2011 elections, have recommended that efforts need to be made by the country towards mitigating the negative influences of incumbency factor in the conduct of national politics, and elections, at all levels. In this regard many have called for decentralization of powers, as well as increased autonomy and independence, for legislative, electoral and law enforcement agencies, from undue executive control and influences (David, 2009).
In the sixth place the conduct, effectiveness and capacity of the opposition parties also play an important part in the conduct of democratization. Ideological clarity and commitment, as well as patriotic conduct, on the part of the opposition parties, rather than unprincipled lust for power, will greatly help to check the excesses of the ruling party, or parties, in addition to providing possible alternatives to the electorate in the country. The opposition parties in Nigeria have been widely denounced for their docility, opportunism, incompetence and shoddiness-attributes which have tended to render them politically ineffective.
Finally a number of observers have also drawn attention to the fact that a major security threat to any nation lies in the extent to which its politics, defining the path to its sovereign, self-reliant, peaceful and prosperous development is undermined by inimical, local or external, forces. Local threats to peaceful and democratic development through military, monetary and other forms of non-constitutional and undemocratic activities need to be checked through the law as well as on the basis of wider collaboration with other African countries. Such security considerations must also be promoted in a manner that fortifies African countries against external threats, pressures and invasions, as well as their marginalization in global affairs. In particular there is the need to check the influences of local anti-democratic expressions (militarist, cultic, aristocratic, patriarchal, ethnocentric etc.), monetary inducements as well as foreign interventions in the country’s democratization process (Victor and Ezekiel, 2009).
- Justice and the Rule of Law as the Foundations of Democratic Politics
The degree of confidence reposed by a number of Nigerians in the possible outcome of March 2011towards the democratization of the country seem to have rested, among other things, on three important presumptions. The first is that there would continue to be official respect for, and responsiveness to, popular demands for political reforms as earlier demonstrated. The second is that the government would also continue to build on the positive legacies of the Yar’adua administration not only in terms of democratic political reforms but also in terms of an inclination towards peaceful resolution of disputes, in the manner pioneered by the Yar’adua regime towards the resolution of the Niger Delta conflict. Finally it was widely assumed that the government would, after the elections, vigorously commit itself to the solution of the various problems of the Fourth Republic, in particular, to which it is an unenviable heir.
Furthermore there is widespread belief that the government needs to demonstrate the key importance of both national independence, and regional cooperation, in its efforts towards democratization. In this respect the government needs to send out clear, rather than mixed, messages that tend to indicate lack of clear objectives and principles on its part. For example while many have hailed the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill as an important achievement, on the part of the Jonathan-led administration, many others have also condemned the regime for championing, as a priority measure, the so-called bid to change the constitution in favour of one-term of six or seven years for elected executives.
Similarly many have called attention to the increasing domination, and determination, of the nations key policies by foreign powers as opposed to their constitutional, as well as popular and national, determination. This is clearly expressed in the extent to which the country’s economic development policy is being unnecessarily dictated by the IMF and the World Bank as expressed in the widespread condemnation of the corrupt and subversive nature of the World Bank promoted privatization exercises so far carried out, as well as the on-going disputes on the unwarranted and disruptive attempt to remove the subsidy on the price of petroleum, in line with the prescriptions of the World Bank and the IMF.
There is similarly widespread condemnation of the tendency for the country’s leaders to pursue foreign policy objectives which are in opposition to both the constitution of the country as well as the common position adopted by the member states of the African Union. These were indicated in the establishment of an American military base (Africom) on the continent, which the Nigerian government allowed for in the Niger-Delta. It is further reflected in the position unilaterally adopted by Nigeria in respect of NATO activities in Libya which also broke ranks with the common position of the AU.
It will similarly be interesting to see whether the government will respect the various views expressed by the very panel it had constituted under Ambassador Galtimari, as well as the positions adopted by the community of elders and the state government of Bornu state, in addition to Obasanjo’s highly publicized solo advocacy in favour of the peaceful resolution of the ‘Boko Haram’ conflict or it will, rather, act on the advise of the US to the effect that ‘Boko Haram’ is “unreconcilable” (Desert Herald, 0ct 2011).
It is also important, in the interest of improving on the conduct of future elections in Nigeria, for the government to act in the greater favour of the recommendations of the Political Reform Conference, as well as the provisions of the nations constitution. In this regard it will be necessary to promote greater decentralization of, as well as checks on, power in the polity in order to curb the present level of impunity exercised by the president, and other executives at the state and local government levels, in terms of control over administrative agencies as well as other arms of governments, in addition to their own political parties. In this regard there is a need to also make federalism truly functional in addition to making all electoral agencies, and personnel, genuinely independent, autonomous and credible. Rules on the funding of political parties, in the country, from both local and foreign sources, are not only ambiguous but hardly ever adhered to, even where they seem to be relatively clear. This problem clearly spells dangers in terms, particularly, of external funding and control of the country’s political processes. There is a need to borrow a leaf from the United States in this regard. In this respect it is important to draw attention to the fact that in accordance with Title 2, United States code Amended (USCA) section 441e(a), it is unlawful for foreign nationals to attempt to influence conduct of elections in the country (Blum, 2000, P. 168ff)
Indeed the Justice Ahmed Lemu-led report of the Federal Government Panel on the Investigation of Post Election Violence in the country has further confirmed the negative character, and tendencies, of the Fourth Republic from the point of view of nation-building, economic development and democratization. It has also greatly explained the major source of the many malfunctions that have come to dominate the affairs of the country. Toward identifying the causes of the 2011post-election violence the report observed that “the first and probably the most important major cause is the failure on the part of the previous successive regimes since the military handover of power in 1999 to implement the recommendations of various committees, commissions and panels that had taken place in our nation”. They further associated this failure with the extent to which serving political office- holders have turned their offices into instruments for the pursuit of their own private gains and have, in the process, perpetrated massive acts of corruption, in addition to attempting to perpetuate themselves in office through some more massive acts of corruption-including the instigation of violence in order to inhibit the possibilities of highly desired, legitimate and more beneficial political changes. Due attention to, and the implementation of the report of this panel, as well as many others, will greatly help to put the country on the path of democratization (Daily Trust, Oct. 11, 2011).
Finally it is important to stress that in order for democratization to be successful in both Africa and Nigeria the government needs to approach its activities, in terms of the various issues raised here as well as from many other sources, on the basis of three very important considerations. These are the consistent demands on it to always act only in a just and constitutional manner, in accordance with the rule of law and in favour of legitimate national, as well as popular, interests. This is the only way to attempt the promotion of genuine democracy in the country.
The sovereign and independent status of Nigeria, as well as other African countries, constitute the primary basis for the development of democracy on the continent. A common, united and independent regional coordination of the conduct of democratization in Africa is the only way to secure, and guarantee, the sovereignty of each African country as well as the collective sovereignty of the region. For this reason Nigeria’s efforts at democratization will be incomplete, and substantially unattainable, outside its collective pursuit and assertion by all of the African region. It is clear that most, if not all, of the African countries are individually too weak and vulnerable to defend their independence against powerful foreign interests, not to talk of their incapacity to assert their democratic demands in the context of global international relations.
Nigeria’s democratization in the context of Africas politico-economic integration, and development, therefore need to be anchored at three levels (national, regional and international) and operated on the basis of three essential principles.
At the national level there is the need to recognize that operating in the interest of popular expressions, and choices, on constitutional bases is the purpose of democratic politics. Popular empowerment towards such ends therefore need to be enabled, promoted and protected in every possible manner. There is a need to ensure that, at both the official and unofficial levels, the conduct of political activities, as well as governance, are designed to ensure justice on the basis of the rule of law.
At the regional level the centrality of Africa in Nigeria’s constitution, in respect of its foreign policy, is an important indication of the latters relevance in the country’s political and economic affairs. It is the key indication that it is only on the basis of Africa’s integration that Nigeria’s independence could best be articulated, asserted and secured at the national, regional and international levels. Only through such an association could local democratic forces be harnessed and collectively promoted while disruptive local conflicts are also genuinely and effectively attended to and resolved. Similarly only in this way could Africa’s interests, at the international level, be collectively asserted, promoted and defended.
In order for democratization, at both the national and regional levels, to succeed in Africa they need to be based on respect for the three important principles and processes: justice, rule of law and popular sovereignty at every level, especially at the level of international and global relations.
In this regard the relative democratization of the international system, towards justice and the rule of law, will help promote, rather than contain, the independence and democratic development of the weaker states of the world. In this respect African countries need to negotiate at international levels on a common platform in addition to taking common stands on all issues, through the AU. They further need to empower themselves through the pursuit of positions on the UN Security Council, in common. They also need to formulate and implement their common political, economic and cultural activities in line with existing agreements, and without interference from any foreign country or group of countries. They need to promote greater interaction between the AU and the African public through, partly, the promotion and coordination of popular movements geared to the achievement of unity, integration and democracy on the continent. In this regard the AU need to have its own independent voice, and media outlets, for the defense and promotion of Africa’s interests at the international level as well as for the common sensitization, coordination and involvement of the African public in its own programmes. In all of these efforts Nigeria should play a leading role, as it had earlier done, towards the common liberation, democratization and development of Africa in favour of the welfare, security and dignity of its peoples.
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