Cure for bad democratic governance is more democracy, says Tinubu

Kunle Sanni

President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday said that the cure for bad democratic governance is more democracy.

Tinubu who spoke in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at the summit on the state of Democracy in Africa also emphasised that Nigeria has learned through bitter experience that the worst form of democracy is far better than the best form of military autocracy.

Vice President Kashim Shetima represented President Tinubu at the event, which was held at the Shehu Yaradua Centre in Abuja.

Tinubu, who was among the top National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democratic coalition chieftains who fought for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential elections stated, “Here in Nigeria, the military first aborted the transition to democracy in 1993. The transition started two years earlier with the election of members of parliament at the state and federal levels and the election of governors. But in July 1993, a free and fair presidential election held on 12 June of the same year was annulled, and the winner was incarcerated.

He added, “Elected people were all sacked by the military. This triggered a pro-democracy struggle, during which many activists and I escaped into exile.

“We finally had a return to democracy in 1999 after 16 years of sometimes benevolent, most often brutal military dictatorship. We have since then recorded 25 years of unbroken democratic governance. We have learnt through bitter experience that the worst form of democracy is far better than the best form of military autocracy.

“Specifically, in Nigeria, we have learnt that the cure for bad democratic governance is more democracy. As one of our most profound intellectuals, the late Professor Claude Ake, once famously opined, ‘the people must learn to become their own political messiahs from bad governance’. This can only be done through the instrumentality of democracy.

Tinubu added that discussing democracy shouldn’t be done merely for show and fancy; rather, it should be based on the conviction that effective, accountable, and honest administration will serve the interests of the greatest number of our citizens.

He said, “We do not espouse the cause of democracy to sound politically correct or just for the fancy of it. We do so because we believe that the ultimate purpose of democracy must be to provide good, honest, and responsible governance that will promote the greatest good for the greatest number of our people.

“Many times, such vices such as corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, and socio-economic difficulties erode the trust and confidence of people in democracy and make military dictatorship attractive.

“But the superior merit of democracy over authoritarian regimes is that it offers the mechanism for peaceful change through the ballot box. It confers on the majority of the electorate, the power, and the right to legitimately dislodge from power a government that is perceived to fall below the desired standards of performance.

“In contrast, for a government that comes to power through the barrel of the gun, the only mechanism for easing it out of power is through superior force. It is the perfect recipe for the instability and needless barbarity that have been associated with despotic rule for much of Africa’s post-independence history.

“This is why we must make the most of the opportunity this conference offers to rigorously interrogate the state of democracy in Africa. This conference must think out ways by which we can roll back the resurgent waves of military autocracy.”

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