If I had been told I would ever agree with one of the selfish Napoleon’s laws in George Orwell’s animal farm I would have argued extensively. However, my agreement is in a fully different context as compared to the original context in the book. In few days’ time, our democratically elected leaders would assume office both at the federal and state levels of government and of course not the local government, those ones run on a different league of theirs, to think they are meant to be the closest to the people. The elected leaders are assuming offices either as returning or newly elected leaders. Distinguished readers, we may have come across the purpose of this write up which is the clause “democratically elected”. This write up is not going to bore us about the lapses in our electoral process, loop holes in our electoral acts or the monumental cost of selecting our political leaders amongst others. It is imperative I point out that by high cost I mean not only capital cost but also lives, opportunities, events that are either lost, forgone or rescheduled during this process. Much has been said about that by different writers and I wouldn’t want to reinvent the wheel.
A recent one is a quote I came across about the postponement of the last election “. . . I am not surprised that the election was postponed few hours to the set date, I am only surprised that people are surprised that the election was postponed few hours to the set date.” That says a lot if we really ponder on it.
Ergo, let me focus on the purpose of this write up. Democracy as we know it today is a game of numbers, a game of majority, the more the merrier, quantity over quality. That is if quality exists at all or how do we determine the quality of one finger print over the other. Conversely, the bitter truth is that quality should be paramount. Definitely not the quality of the ink of the finger print but that of the voters. Dear readers, I hate to burst your bubbles but the fact is all men are not equal or perhaps some men are more equal that the others. At least not in political ramifications. Some care about governance but do not know what it entails, some know about governance but do not care about how the state is being governed, some do not know and do not care while a group know what governance should be and they do care. So why will the votes of the first three groups described equal the last one? Why I ask again? Wouldn’t this be injustice? Wouldn’t this be the initiation of failure? I think this is worth pondering on. If we insist our problems as nation is so interwoven like a web chain that we don’t know where to start solving it from, I think we have a knot here. I believe most of us must have thought of this but didn’t find it pertinent to the problem of governance in our country.
Democracy was designed on the assumption that the electorates are reasonably informed. However, this is monumentally far from reality, I can say this without any iota of doubt. A quick demographic analysis of the eligible voters during the last election would help verify this claim. Those in the realms of power who are responsible for educating and encouraging participation in governance are lackadaisical about it, perhaps the aim is to keep using these uninformed electorates to their advantage.
It is not in my usual practise to call our attention to a problem and not suggest a solution. I will suggest one or two before I wrap up for today. Since the result we envisage is to have informed electorates, we have at least two ways to go about it. We either educate the electorates about what true governance entails or adopt a programme that allows only reasonably informed citizens to constitute the voting electorate or at least constitute a majority. The later would be a preferred solution being that it can easily be adopted for our urgent situation while we work on the former for a long term solution. Adopting this will be similar to the indirect voting system like the electoral college in the United State which has its own cons but we can design ours to fit our needs while we work on the long term solution of educating the masses about what true governance is and encouraging participation.
On a final note, better late than never as we were taught, I will like to pay tribute Late Pius Adesanmi who died March this year in a plane crash. He contributed immensely to the discourse on nation building through his thought-provoking articles. Most of the views he espoused continue to have a profound impression on my perspectives on governance.