Former Lagos State governor and one of the national leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Bola Tinubu, on Monday told the United Kingdom parliament that except there was strict observance of certain positive dynamics, democracy is at risk of implosion in Nigeria.
Tinubu, who addressed an audience at the Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament, London, however, unveiled what appeared to be the broad policies of the proposed opposition merger on the yet-to-be registered All Progressives Congress (APC) with sectorial breakdown of its proposed revolution.
Speaking on “Leadership, National Development and the People” being the theme of the British African Diaspora Conference, which invited him as key note speaker and hosted by MP Lammy and MP Ivan Lewis, shadow Secretary for international development, Tinubu spoke of the revolution the new political coalition intends to bring about when elected into power in Nigeria.
In another breath, the former governor noted that the difference between the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership and the upcoming APC was that the former was a complete testimonial of leadership failure in the real context of good governance.
To address the threats to democracy, the ACN leader stated that under democracy, the concern about the quality of leadership takes on an added dimension, adding that democracy could only be sustained and improved when the electoral process was such that the people were able to choose leaders, who would further nurture the democratic system.
“In the absence of this reinforcing positive dynamics, democracy will weaken and sooner or later implode, if left too long unattended. If democracy is to be sustained it must also elevate the performance level of government and the corresponding rights and privileges enjoyed by the citizens.
“The success or performance of any leadership is often measured by the extent of national cohesion achieved and the level of national development experienced.
“In the case of Nigeria, the fundamental question to ask as one of our most prominent journalists said in a recent piece is: To what extent has public policy improved the human condition?
“Nigeria is a dysfunctional democracy. Our system stands in a dark, uncertain corridor, idling halfway between democracy and its opposite. The way things are going many people believe our best chance for genuine democracy has already escaped from us like dust blown from the hollow of our hand.
“I believe democracy shall prevail in Nigeria in the long run. This belief is not derived from the present facts on the ground. If I limit myself to facts alone, my address to you would be a gloomy one. However, I believe democracy shall win because I hold an undying faith in both justice and the collective wisdom of the people,” he said.
Dwelling further on democracy, Tinubu said, “Today, democracy is the standard. Democracy is the best form of governance because it counters that most dangerous human frailty: the temptation of leaders to accumulate power for the sake of accumulating more power.
“However, everyone claims to be democratic but not everyone is faithful to his or her word. Herein lies the rub. Illiberal governments have become adept in exploiting the visible procedural and institutional trappings of democracy without adopting the democratic spirit that gives these procedures and institutions their noble meaning.
“We have governments that are democracies on paper but not in function. They are democracies in form but not in substance. We have governments that only know democracy primarily through breaching it. In short, many nations suffer authoritarian governments in democratic clothing.
Tinubu, who frowned on the state of the nation, referred to the failed policies of the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to include such critical areas as power, employment, management of the economy and national security being evidence of bad leadership.
Starting by assessing the Jonathan administration in key areas and submitting to the Nigerian people and the audience in the UK that Nigeria at present has a bad leadership, he said Nigeria needed a new leadership that could take bold steps and initiate time-tested policies.
“The glorious Nigerian revolution of which I speak has nothing to do with force of arms. The revolution of which I speak has two major parts. First, is the peaceful conversion of our quasi-democracy into a full-fledged one; second is the implementation of policies turning the political economy away from its retrogressive, elitist bearings. We seek policies pointing in a progressive direction affording the average person a chance at a dignified life.
“This will be through the provision of gainful employment, quality education and essential social services for those who need the helping hand of government to survive. I see no shame in believing progressive government can improve the political economy and the lives of the people.
“It is quite apparent to me that political leadership serves no useful function if it is unable to address the vital needs of the people. There is no question that the current federal government has thoroughly failed in that enterprise and this explains the focus of the new opposition, the APC.”