June 12: Democracy, the elected, and the role of the electorate in Nigeria's problems

Democracy is by far the best form of governance, as it gives direct power to the people being governed, allowing them to play an active role in selecting the people who govern them. This does not mean that all electoral and democratic processes are fair and clean, but it does mean that the people have substantial power, as there is a limit to how much an electoral process can be rigged.

Every democratic system has two key components: the electorate and the elected. The electorate constitutes everyone eligible to vote someone into – or out of – power. The elected are those who are selected by the electorate to lead or govern the people in any capacity, through an electoral process.

Nigeria has gotten worse in many sectors over the past nine years, but the country seems to be in a nosedive now, and a lot of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians at the moment can be traced directly to the policies of the elected, and perhaps appointees of the elected. This has led many Nigerians to focus their ire on the elected – and rightly so – as these people in power were put there to lead the country to a better place.

The country is not in a better place, and it is only logical that people turn on the elected and hold them responsible for the hardship.

The elected did not get there by themselves though. As mentioned earlier, a democratic system has two key components, and one cannot exist without the other. The elected don’t get into power if enough of the electorate do not want them there. The elected is a direct function of the electorate.

This means that the responsibility falls on the electorate to make sure that whoever they are voting into power is in the right position to actually move the country in the direction they want it to go. That responsibility does not fall on the elected, or the potentially elected. It is only fair that the electorate is burdened with this responsibility, as they are most directly impacted by the actions of the elected.

The electorate cannot be said to have taken that responsibility seriously for a long time now. This is not even particularly referencing the last election, because the elections before that also had the electorate voting for the wrong reason, and not taking the right things into consideration.

This is why as much as the elected are to be held responsible for everything wrong with the nation at this point, the electorate also has some responsibility, as the members played the biggest role in bringing the leaders into power.

The elected in this case may have been said to be doing necessary things, but their handling of many issues has been way below par, and that handling has worsened the impact of these seemingly necessary decisions. Carelessness and impulse have been the theme of the leaders so far, with those in power making decisions without considering how impactful they would be, and most importantly, without first thinking of ways to manage the impact of their decisions.

There’s a reason something is put on the floor to cushion the fall of firefighters when they find themselves having to jump from buildings while rescuing people. Of course, they’d prefer not to jump and just exit the building normally, but because it’s a crisis, they HAVE to jump, as things will get worse if they don’t.

The thing used to cushion their landing is just as important as the decision to jump. If they jumped without an arrangement being made to cushion their landing, they’d have brought more problems on themselves and perhaps the people they were supposed to rescue, even though they were doing something necessary by jumping.

The elected in this case cannot say they did not anticipate the impact of their decisions, because many of them have been in situations like this before, and they had to make decisions like this too. It all reeks of a lack of planning, which is an indictment of the current administration.

There are usually many choices when it’s time to vote, and the electorate from now henceforth, should make sure they think about the right things when making the decisions. If there is bad governance and things start going wrong, the electorate would be as responsible as the elected.

Olaoluwa Nwobodo is an Editor on Nigerians Online

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