DEMOCRACY SUSTENANCE IN A POVERTY-RIDDEN SOCIETY
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is unarguably that democracy is the best form of government for any nation. And democracy is not a potted plant which can be transported into any soil and without work or effort. As aptly summed up by Larry Diamond (1992); it is one thing to get democracy. It is another thing, often more difficult, to sustain it, to consolidate it, to breathe real life and meaning into it, to make it endure.
In the ancient time, democracy was practiced in its direct form in Athens one of the Greek City-State. According to Simyu V. G. 1988: 49, democracy consisted not only rule according to the wishes of the majority of the people, but actual participation of the people themselves. All free adult males were allowed to participate directly in the decision-making process of the entire government.
Democracy in modern times, according to 16th American President, Abraham Lincoln (1861-65), is the government of people, by the people and for the people. Raphael, 1971 define democracy as system of rule in which the entire people or citizenry are assumed to have the right and opportunity to participate, either directly or indirectly, in governance through representative elected by them and these elected representative are in turn, accountable to the electorate. Akpakpan and Umoh (1999) describe democracy as a political system with a high level of civil and political liberty.
It is system which gives room for competition among political parties and association for power. Democracy allows for mass participation by adult in the selection of leaders and representatives by means of fair and free electoral process. Democracy according to Carl Cohen (1971:7) is that system of community government in which by and large the members of the community participate or may participate directly in the making of decision which affects them all. This definition emphasizes the nation of equality and direct participation. In this direction Philips Shively (1991:322) defines democracy as a state in which all fully qualified citizen vote at regular intervals to choose, among alternative candidate, the people who will be in charge of setting state’s policies. John Locke, the progenitor of modern and liberal democracy defines it as a rule by the majority. A government arising from the majority of men uniting into whole power of the community and employing all power in making law by officer of their own appointing (second Treatise, Ch Xii 32)
From Marxist point of view, as represented in the work of Marx and Engels. The communist manifesto, democracy corrects “the dictatorship of the common people, the plebeians. It was very much a class affair; it meant the sway of the lowest and largest class. That is why it was feared, rejected and modified by men of the age of enlightenment spearheaded by the British who valued their property more than the issue of political sentiments.
Democracy is considered superior to all other system of government because it guarantees and protects the right and interest of all individual and groups, it ensures majority rule and grants the minority the right of dissent. There are three element that make democracy acceptable and attractive and these are participation, representative and accountability, whether it is direct or indirect rule through representatives, democracy has attracted a lot of people and is widely desired and accepted as the closest approximation to the good society in operation and the best form of government, the world over, from European to America, Africa to Asia, Latin America to Russia.
In Nigeria, poverty has been deep routed and makes people loose confident in the government policies ineffective, weaken the basis for it growth and maturity. It renders citizen fragile and vulnerable to external influence which may be the way of inducement to subvert the government. Poverty is capable of breeding disillusionment with respect to what societal objectives are and the responsibilities of the citizen forward the attainment of such objectives. In the face of disillusionment and ignorance democratic experimentation are bound to collapse due to lack of mass participation in government and breakdown of essential principles of democracy.
In this work, attention will first of focused on those element that hindered the sustainability of democracy in the society with particular reference to Akwa Ibom State. It will also follow by a critical analysis and examination of this element on democratic sustenance in the society and it possible solution.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
For democracy to be sustained in Nigeria there is a need to encourage a strong civil societies, mass media and freedom from ignorance and want, right of choice, respect for rule of law, periodic and orderly succession through secret ballot and high level of political participation and political education by political parties.
Since the inception of democracy in Nigeria, there have been a concerted effort by different administration and others non-governmental organization to achieve the aims of democracy but such effort kept meeting some hindrances, and these problems include, lack of mass participation in electoral process, lack of internal democracy among different political parties, economic inequality, pre and post election violent, politics of ethnicity and tribalism (sectional politics), selling of votes by the electorate, electoral corruption in the part of election officials, politics of God fatherism, lack of political education in the part of political parties and civil societies, bias report by the press and so on, all these elements are anti-democratic in nature and constitutes electoral corruption and their end-product is poverty which is a threat to democracy sustainability.
Why do competitive political party necessary for democracy sustainability in the society?
How can mass political participation be encouraged for our democracy to sustain?
What actually constitute anti-democratic element in our society?
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the study are as follows;
To evaluate the effect of anti-democratic elements on democracy sustenance
To examines both economic and political ideology of our leaders and their impact on democracy sustainability.
To compare the level of democratic experiment in Akwa Ibom State as a case study with any other state in Nigeria.
To find out democratic institution necessary for the sustainability of democracy in our society
To proffers a possible solution to the negative effect of anti-democratic elements in our society for democracy to be sustained.
There is no significant relationship between democracy sustenance and poverty.
There is significant relationship between democracy sustenance and poverty.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The major focus of this study is to evaluate the negative effect of antidemocratic elements on democracy sustenance, examine the economic and political ideology of our leaders, find out institution necessary to sustain democracy and also suggest possible solution for democracy to be sustained in our society.
Attention will be given to the level of democratic experiment in Akwa Ibom as compare to other state in Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
In view of accepting democracy as the best form of government for any Nation, this work is significant in a number of ways. The work will help broaden the theoretical and practical understanding of democracy sustainability. That democracy has attracted a lot of people and is widely desired and accepted as the closest approximation to the good society in operation and best form of government, the world over.
The work will modify old ideas and contribute new ideas as well as fill the Lacuna in the stock of existing knowledge.
This work will also avail the public (readers) the opportunity to be acquainted with those conditions necessary and essential element that help democracy to be sustained in our society. The work will be a reference document in future.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Democracy: is a system of government in which citizen participate massively in their own government.
Sustenance: the act of providing a means of subsistence
Society: is a formal association of people with similar interest.
Poverty: is a situation whereby incomes and consumption are low.