By Victor Adekanye Olabimtan
An American Scholar, Larry Diamond (1990) opined that democracy is characterized by three paramount Ingredients namely: 1. Struggle for power among individuals or groups especially political parties without the use of force. 2. Public and Popular Participation in the selection of leaders through a free and fair-periodic election and 3. Civil and political liberties such as the rights of the people to vote and to be voted for, rights to life, association, movement, religion, peaceful assembly etc.
Consequently, what the empirical affirmation of Larry Diamond teaches all and sundry is that what segregates DEMOCRACY from other systems of government is its penchant for vesting POWER in the hands of the people.
As cruel and wicked Adolf Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda, Jacob Geobis were when they held the insignia of power in Germany, they never under estimated the power of the people.
The duo were known for their penchants for applying the tenets of propaganda, Humbug, Cant and Lingo to manipulate the intellectual Sagacity, Erudition and Common Sense of the PEOPLE.
Hitler and Geobis felt that the people are very vital in a democracy and thus derived a deceitful way of manipulating them. The end of Hitler’s politics of deceits and wickedness is however a story to tell for another day.
However, what the argument above tends to achieve is that democracy is about the people. Either real or counterfeit, all policies and modicum of operations in a democracy are tailored towards either the development or annihilation of the people and that makes the people the ultimate in a democracy.
Meanwhile, history had made it known that leaders who manipulated the people to their advantage; I mean leaders who failed to respect the masses, always lose all what they laboured to build through the manipulation and lack of respect for the people to the infamy of people’s revolt.
Former President of Macias Nguema of Guinea built castles through manipulation of the people. The end of his life could be liken to that of a leprous. Nguema refused to respect people’s rights to liberties. Right to life under Nguema was a privilege. He institutionalized poverty and implemented Stockholm Syndrome to the letter in Guniea.
Former President Said Barre of Somalia is another leader who got power through the people but plunged the people Into starvation through autocracy. From democracy, Barre metamorphosed into oligarchy. He turned people into slaves through political and economic manipulation. The end of his life was disastrous.
The story of former President Charles Taylor of Liberia should still be fresh in our memory. He’s still alive but dead politically and economically. Taylor got power through the people but turned out to betray the people. He maimed, killed, oppressed and strangulated people’s rights and privileges. Today, Liberians have freedom while Taylor is languishing in prison.
Nguema, Barre and Taylor all railroaded the people of their respective countries into stagnation. They disenfranchised their people. The rights of their people to choose, vote and to be voted for were strangulated.
The trio of Nguema, Barre and Taylor built castles on the sea; they walked with German cars and flew Japanese Aircrafts. Their automobiles were specially moulded from the haven of serenity. They lived and wallowed in opulence whilst their people lived miserably in starvation and abject poverty.
Today, for circumventing the tenets and essential ingredients characterizing democracy and for manipulating the rights of their people to social, economic and democratic life, Nguema, Barre and Taylor have been decayed. They are now remembered as oppressors and strangulators of their people.
Therefore, dear Nigerian political gladiators, please do respect the people. Allow people to choose. The rights to enthrone and dethrone in a democracy are vested on the people.
The largely appetitive people have not aircrafts, automobiles; some do not have motorcycles and even bicycles; the only power granted unto them by God through democracy is their VOTES.
Thus, an attempt to Disenfranchise people of their rights to civil and political liberties may resort into Revolt. The contracts between the people and their leaders must always be respected to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
I want to plead with Nigerian leaders that the loyalty of the people must not be taken for stupidity. They should note the sacrosanct fact that the voice of the people is the voice of God in a democracy.
The people are the ultimate in a democracy. They are the Alfa and Omega in a democracy. The people are the kingmakers vested with the power to enthrone and dethrone in a democracy. Thus, taking PEOPLE for granted in a democracy always boomerang. It will always be counter-productive. Prevention as God says is better than cure. Enough is good for the wise!
Olabimtan, a former Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly and APC Guber Aspirant Writes from Supare-Akoko, Ondo State.