Democracy and monetary policy – NEWS
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The initiators of democracy in 5e Greece never envisaged a situation in which only the rich or the super-rich would become representatives of the people, whether in the legislative or executive branch of government. Its original meaning – rule of the people – is quite instructive in this regard. Because, it is in the sense that the aristocrats would no longer reign over the people that democracy was born. True, the aristocrats were the money and possessing people, who dominated the economic and political life of society, practically dictating the private and public life of citizens. It is true that over time the nuances and practice of democracy have been redefined and adapted to circumstances. And so, we have terms and notions as false and fanciful as “autocratic democracy”, “liberal democracy”, “consensus democracy” and “supermajority”. Ali Mazrui warned that “it is suicidal in any democracy for a majority without economic power to cede political power to a minority with economic power! What is the current scenario in Nigeria. And it is the nation that pays.
The latest special conventions orchestrated by the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja highlighted the power of money at the heart of politics and politics in Nigeria. There was a time in our history when political leaders in Nigeria managed to pretend public morals, pretend to respect the naira, pretend to fight corruption, pretend to set the right standards, to pretend inclusive politics and pretend their image in the eyes of the people. But that era is over with the wind of time. In Abuja during the conventions, although the event was broadcast to the eyes of the world, it was mainly to entertain people and give the illusion of transparency. Everyone knew the dirty stuff happened off camera.
In the most blatant and reckless way, the future leaders of the country brazenly voted a vote of no confidence on socio-political ethics and the value of the naira against the US dollar. Along with the outrageously high price of nomination or expression of interest forms, aspirants have fought to pay the heaviest bribes to delegates tasked with producing the Parties’ flag bearers. In this respect, the future “leaders” showed contempt for public opinion and the image of brigands that conventions flashed or engraved in the minds of unhappy citizens. As usual, there is acquiescence from the people who will vote for or against the representatives envisaged in 2023.
Man’s ingenuity in crafting new policy frameworks has been his life and of course his death. Generally speaking, one could speak of “parliamentary democracy” and “presidential democracy”. Ingeniously, the man learned to elect five or ten people from a sectarian group who in turn handed out instructions to ordinary people as a form of democracy. The company also created “godfathers” who pulled the strings behind the scenes and dictated who qualified to sit in parliament or hold the executive seat of government.
There is a fundamental contradiction between democracy as a form of government and the power of money in the emergence of people as representatives. Men and women with deep pockets but not popular with citizens or whose source of wealth is questionable became the main nominees. It goes beyond stomach aches. There is the pervasive narrative that these men will fight their way through the power of money. What is your price, the flag bearers in the country seem to be asking? What can we do, people seem to say? As for the Peter Obi movement which is even in advanced democracies, a poor man cannot really represent the people. In other words, a poor man can only represent the people if he is able to raise funds to finance the electoral campaign. In some jurisdictions, there are legal requirements on how to collect these funds.
If democracy as currently practiced were very successful, the notion of people power would not have developed. Power of people! It is a “political term for the populist driving force of any social movement that invokes the authority of popular opinion and will, usually in opposition to that of conventionally organized corporate or political forces. In principle and in practice, democracy should be the power of the people to elect their representatives. But it turned out that some underground forces seized power and dictated willy-nilly the nature and practice of politics, as we saw in the Arab world that led to the historic Arab Spring in 2010 ; which led to the END SARS uprising in Nigeria in 2017. People power takes over when the people are frustrated with the type of democracy and the personalities/actors who pull the strings of politics in a country. Nigeria has reached this point. What seems to have prevented these forces from taking power is the facade of ethnic and religious diversity in the two major regions that make up Nigeria. For those who really know, it’s a veneer. The fate of the oppressed and suffering man in the south is the same as that of the ordinary man in the north. The difference is how they respond to short-term state oppression and exploitation. Ultimately, suffering will unite young people from north and south to take back their country. It’s just a matter of time.
As the nation prepares for the 2023 general election, angered by the politics of money and official exclusionary politics, young people have started a movement around Peter Obi. We are not prophets to know what success will be. There is anger in the country. The young people of the North are angry. Young people in the South are angry. Some people in the south believe that the incumbent president’s presidency has favored the north more in terms of access to quality of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Things are generally bad in the country. The heinous display of money politics in Abuja during the Conventions is a breaking point for all of us. Sadly, this happened on the watch of the unsmiling general who campaigned on an anti-corruption mantra. It signals the end of hope that mainstream politics can resolve the deep contradictions of the Nigerian state. So the big question arises: NIGERIA, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO SAVE US FROM MONEY POLITICS?
*Professor Hope O. Eghagha