PDP:The Return Of Dictatorship In Nigeria

In dictatorship, one person or a small group possess absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. Dictatorship can be traced back to the Roman Republic, where a temporary magistrate was granted extraordinary powers to deal with a state crisis. Dictators usually resort to force or fraud to gain despotic political power, which they maintain through the use of intimidation, terror, and

the suppression of others. Among the most extreme examples of dictatorship in recent history and modern times are Nazi Germany and North Korea, respectively. Dictatorship is not totalitarianism which describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behaviour of the people. Countries like Burma, Chenchnya (controlled by Russia), Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet (controlled by China),Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are under the strong holds of dictators. Others like Nigeria are not completely free.

A report on corruption published in July 1997 by the Berlin-based organisation-Transparency International listed Nigeria as the most corrupt nation in the world. The most recent military coup in Nigeria occurred in November 1993, following the annulment of presidential elections in June that year. General Sani Abacha, the Armed forces Chief of Staff, took power. He annulled the organs of state, banned political parties and dismantled the democratic structures. International pressure forced him to announce a three-year timetable for the transition to democracy in October 1995, but the plans were plagued by repeated delays. Local elections held in March 1997 were five months later than planned. Only five political parties were registered of the 15 who applied. Parties had six weeks to register, and in that time had to enrol 1.2members with 40000 members per state, and provide photographs and signatures of each member. He said that Western-style democracy is not always suitable in Africa. Abacha, who suddenly died on June 8, 1998 was the last known dictator in the history of Nigeria before people like Turai, Obj, PDP…started raising their ugly heads.

Unlike dictatorship, democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people(direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of people(representative democracy).Though, there is no specific, universally accepted definition of ‘democracy,’ there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes: equality and freedom. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. The freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution. However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated-though the use of balances to avoid an uneven distribution of political power such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.

The ‘majority rule’ is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without responsible government or constitutional protections of individual liberties from democratic power, it is possible for dissenting individuals to be oppressed by the ‘tyranny of the majority’. An essential process in representative democracy is competitive elections (unlike what is prevalent in Nigeria) that are fair, both substantively and procedurally. Freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and able to vote in their personal interests.

Despite the multi-party system in Nigeria, there is an unabated increase in dictatorship and the country is more or less subjected to dictatorship rule and under the bondage of dictators who are hiding under the umbrella of political parties.

Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP)are nurturing the idea of remaining in power for the next 60years but such an assumption of unmerited longevity would seem rather laughable in real democratic nations of the world, as their politicians hardly look beyond one election at a time. The retention of political power is not about being a member of the political party in power but about how the people perceive their individual and collective wellbeing over a period of time. It is all about the people’s power.

Those seeking to unseat others must be able to convince the electorate that the change they promise to make is real. Subtly, PDP and its members are gradually taking us back to the era of dictatorship. There is no fair primary election as candidates are picked by ‘powerful’ members and imposed on others who only need to concur. It is believed that any PDP nominee wins. The party does anything to win while other parties are called to support.PDP dictates what happens in the country. Rigging, incarceration, assassination, sack threats and more are used to keep off any opposition. These are against the principles guiding them as written in their manifesto.

We must learn as a matter of urgency that democracy is not a ‘do or die’ affair. Elections must be free and fair, and a people represented by those they have duly chosen. It should not be about ‘ambitions’ of individuals but the future of our society. Political parties need leadership and commitment to the vision of the society for themselves and posterity. Electoral reforms, rule of law, FOI bill approval and more should be in place so as to save this nation from the imminent strongholds of dictatorship.