Universally, democracy is defined as government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a representative, participatory and consultative government. It is about due process, rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights. It is about transparency, accountability and good governance.
Democracy recognizes and respects human dignity and freedom, such as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of movement and freedom of association. It is about service and not leadership. It is about welfare and well-being of the people. It is about provision of social amenities such as pipe-borne water, electricity supply, healthcare, education, housing, employment, food, transportation, good roads, job creation, security, and so on. All these are the fruits of democracy, commonly known as the dividends of democracy.
Dividends of democracy are also enjoyed when the masses to which democracy assigns huge responsibility of electing their representatives in the three tiers of government are given fair treatment by the government.
But it is painful that after 20 years of experimenting and experiencing the democratic governance in Nigeria, we are yet to see the much needed dividends of democracy. We have no potable drinking water. We still make do with untreated bore-hole water and yet, every year, huge amount of money is budgeted for water.
Electricity is in short supply in the country. Steady supply of electricity would have been a source of joy to small-scale entrepreneurs whose businesses such as tailoring, barbing, dry cleaning, hair dressing, selling of minerals and pure water depend on it. But it is painful that electricity supply has not improved for the past 20 years despite billions of dollars budgeted for it by government on yearly basis.
Nigeria has not fared better in the area of education. Some years ago, Nigerian slogan was ‘Education for all by the year 2000’. Now year 2000 has come and gone, education for all is not yet in sight. We still have thousands of children who cannot find their way to school for one reason or the other.
School fees at all levels of education are expensive and, in some cases, unaffordable. And what is more, teachers and lecturers are not receiving better treatment from government in terms of salaries and working conditions. Indeed, our education system is in a mess.
Our healthcare system is in comatose. Many hospitals have no drugs and modern equipment. Despite the efforts of NAFDAC, fake drugs from India and other countries still find their way into the country. As a result of these, many Nigerians travel abroad for medical attention.
Despite abundant human resources, vast lands and billions of naira generated from oil, Nigerian leaders have refused to invest in agriculture. This has increased the prices of food stuff and general cost of living in Nigeria; with thousands of youths roaming about the streets for lack of nothing to engage in.
In fact, unemployment in the country has become the biggest problem of Nigerian youths and challenge to the federal government. Millions of Nigerian youths who graduated from various universities and other higher institutions every year are without jobs. Inability to ensure jobs and indeed reasonable paid jobs has lured many into various crimes.
It is the same sad story in the area of transportation. Rail transportation used to be cheap in those days. It is the cheapest means of transportation for the common man. But today, rail transportation barely works optimally after intervention by the present administration. Billions of naira earmarked for its rehabilitation with a Chinese firm as contractor hasn’t yielded much.
This situation is exacerbated by the deplorable condition of roads in Nigeria, particularly those in the eastern part of the country. Anybody who passes through our roads would weep for Nigerians who ply these roads on daily basis. The question is: What happened to the trillions of naira that Olusegun Obasanjo’s government and others budgeted for this sector. Down the drain as usual?
So, where are the dividends of democracy? Unfortunately, what we have as dividends of democracy in Nigeria are political thuggery, violence, militancy in the Niger Delta, banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, public harassment and extortion, election rigging, embezzlement of public funds, etc.
It is against this backdrop that I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to pursue his agenda with much vigour so that by the time he would be leaving office, he would be able to boast of good legacies.
As for Rivers State, Governor Barrister Nyesom Wike is making appreciable and commendable in-roads, especially in the areas of roads network, education, healthcare, transportation, security, urban renewal and beautification. We only hope he would not be distracted by political cynics.
Ogbuehi, a journalist and human rights activist, wrote from Port Harcourt.
Teach Boys Home Economics In School
Before now, Home Economics was only about cooking food, making clothes and sanitation. It was seen as a subject for only girls and women. Boys were given little thought about it. It has gone beyond housekeeping and dress making.
Home Economics in the present school curriculum includes family relations, human relations, consumer education, child development, hotel management, event management, in-door and out-door services.
Some scholars say the subject has become more important than vocational training that can help people live intelligent and normal life in their future endeavours.
One of the goals of acquiring education generally by younger persons is to fulfill life’s aspirations comfortably in future and to give back to the society the assistance received earlier in life. Since boys and girls will live together in future, teaching the boy-child Home Economics will give both equal opportunity to care for their families.
A school of thought has argued that if only the girl is taught the subject, it means it is just for one half of the family. In future, a boy and a girl will definitely get married and establish their own home.
According to an educator, Schepman, when both boys and girls have training in family relationships, they will have a similarity of ideas of the life that will be smooth over many necessary adjustments.
In fact, the importance of teaching the boy-child Home Economics in secondary school cannot be over-emphasised. Since people are developed in other aspects of education to succeed in life, this is also important.
When the boy-child is taught Home Economics which introduces him to child-rearing, decision-making and handling of finance, some of the disagreements that arise in homes will reduce.
Of course, we are aware that when some of these home issues are not handled properly, they lead to disagreement which may lead to divorce of man and wife.
For us to have successful homes which can be satisfying, a lot has to be done by education authorities. Home Economics curriculum has to be revised and updated to suit the present-day home. Specialists in Home Economics should develop types of classes that can assist boys and girls to attain good family life.
Serious efforts should be made by educators to train the boys on how to improve themselves as it concerns family life
Days are gone when mothers nursed their babies alone. Nowadays, greater percentage of women are either of working class or engage in their private businesses, thereby contributing meaningfully to the family income. This calls for the importance of including the boys who will eventually become fathers tomorrow. When a wife is at work, the man who may be on paternity leave should be able to take care of his kids and change baby nappies when necessary.
Awareness on this issue should be created for parents by relevant authorities telling them how important it has become training the boys in Home Economics.
High school boys of today who will become fathers in future should be given home training so as to understand how to manage home responsibilities as well as help their children develop normally. They should be knowledgeable about the kind of meals kids need when their mother is away from home.
Some years ago, it was only the girl-child that was mandated to get close to the mother as it concerns house chores. The boys would go to play football with the belief that house work was meant for girls alone. That mentality should be put right. The need to train them as well has become necessary so that when they get married, while their wives are at work, they can prepare meals for the family. This will help reduce the stress on the woman. In the absence of the mother, a boy can sew a button on his shirt, wash and iron his and his siblings’ clothes.
In our local setting, when our parents retire and cannot be independent, it is the female folks that take their parents to their matrimonial homes to cater for them. The boy who will become man in future can also do it properly if given the opportunity to study it.
I suggest that boys should be trained in Home Economics so that the issue of “children rearing children” in society can be put to stop. This results from teenagers ignorantly impregnating and marrying themselves. Of course, you see this because they may not have been properly taught.
When our boys are trained in that field, they will realise that maturity guides people in everything they engage in life, especially when it comes to marriage.
Home Economics educators should not educate only girls on food preparation. Educating the boys has become imperative considering the fact that boys are hungrier than girls. Boys need to have some ideas of good principles of nutrition.
We are not unaware that boys are more interested in the mechanics of the home. They are always interested to operate equipment to know how they work, study home plans, room arrangement, furniture and more.
We are aware that Home Economics is taught in schools but it is high time government at all levels through the ministry of education and curriculum developers placed more emphasis in providing the necessary teaching and learning facilities in schools to encourage the development of these abilities in acquiring knowledge in areas of their interests. Incentives can also be provided to encourage them.
The male tailors we see on our streets today learnt it when they were young, they earn a lot of money and cater for their families from that.
Even when we were in school, Home Economics was seen as an inferior subject or course of study designed for only women. A young man who studied Home Economics, catering and hotel management can work in a hotel either as a waiter, attendant and may become hotel manager in future.
The young men should be taught to keep homes so that they will appreciate the roles their girls and women play. This will make them understand that the difference between men’s and women’s roles are not much any longer.
After all, women’s education does not end in the kitchen any more.
By: Eunice Choko-Kayode
Media And #EndSARS Saga
For about two weeks, last month, thousands of young people across Nigeria and abroad took to the streets to call for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an infamous police unit accused of extortion, extrajudicial killings, rape and torture.
This was the first time Nigerians had made such a demand. It was, however, by far, the first time their calls garnered such widespread support and international media coverage, thanks largely to the prominent role of social media in spreading the word.
The peaceful protests against police brutality began on October 8th after a video showing a suspected SARS operative killing a man, was widely shared online. The EndSARS hash tag swiftly started trending, boosted in part by Nigerian celebrities and high-profile personalities with large followings. As the hashtag also spread beyond the country’s borders, a number of Nigerian Twitter users announced they would help cover the phone bills of others. So they could afford to keep tweeting and maintain momentum.
Encouraged by the first protest held in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, Uloma Nwoke and her friends decided to also organize one in the Lekki area of the City. They shared a flyer detailing the time and location of the protest on various social media. By October 10, they were surprised to see that nearly 1,000 persons had descended on the site. “A lot of celebrities and influential people showed up”, Nwoke said.
Meanwhile, thousands of kilometers away, Omolare Oriye, a human rights lawyer, was organizing a protest via WhatsApp in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria. A video of Nigerian Police officers manhandling demonstrators circulating on Twitter, prompted her to act.
“I contacted the Nigerian Students Association in Pretoria who put me in touch with Nigerian students”, said 32-year old Oriye. “We met at the (Nigerian) embassy in mid-October, the protest movement got an extra push from Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, who used the EndSARS hashtag as he posted a donation link associated with the feminist coalition, one of the most prominent groups supporting protesters on the ground while the amplification of the protest by celebrities and social media influencers bridged the information gap left by local news outlets, protesters resisted attempts by government officials to single out influential personalities as spokespeople via invitations to join newly instituted panels on Police reforms. Having witnessed other movements fizzle out following closed-door meetings and government representatives, many activists cautioned against such appointments. Nwoke, 25, described the tendency of celebrities to monopolise the microphone at protest venues, depriving those most affected by SARS the opportunity to share their experiences.
“It was one of the biggest challenges for me, of celebrity worship and narcissism. “Most of them just want to always be in front. We had to start profiling (speakers)”. It’s a sentiment also shared by Oriye. Celebrities are great for amplification, but they are not movement leaders, arguing that many are ill-informed and had, in the past, diverted attention away from knowledgeable activists. Apart from raising awareness about police brutality and coordinating protests on the ground, various EndSARS organizers used social media to connect with volunteers, accept donations from different parts of the world and publish accounts of disbursed funds through frequent updates.
Information about emergency helplines and ways to circumvent a potential Internet shutdown also spread freely and widely. Essentially, observers say, social media democratized the EndSARS movement, allowing users with varying numbers of followers to pitch, improve or reject ideas, solicit donations or start food banks to feed protesters.
This entire movement was born, bred and salvaged online communications lead for not-too-young Nigerians into public office. There was a constant reminder that there was no leader (which) strengthen people’s voices and close any avenue for compromise.
On the news front, web-based publications, largely geared towards millennials, kept the protest in the fore alongside witnesses armed with smartphones, as most traditional media outlets ostensibly wary of running foul of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation’s directive to be cautious with user generated content and to not embarrass the government, kept off.
It hurt me personally that people were dropping dead on the street and news channels were talking about some irrelevant subjects, as the peaceful protest grew in size after. Entering their second week, hoodlums in Lagos and the capital, Abuja also vandalized public buildings, burned private businesses and stormed prison facilities to help inmates escape, prompting state governors to impose curfews to curb the escalating unrest.
President Muhammadu Buhari in a belated nationwide broadcast said, 51 civilians were killed and 31 injured since demonstrations began, blaming the violence on hooliganism. He added that 11 police men and seven soldiers had been killed by rioters.
Buhari’s statement came two days after Amnesty International put the death toll at 56, with about 38 killed on October 20, the same day security forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators in Lekki, in an attack that was livestreamed on instagram by a witness and caused widespread outrage. Amnesty said it’s on the ground investigation by Amnesty. International media confirmed that the army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters in Lekki and Alausa, another area of Lagos where EndSARS protesters were being held. The army has denied involvement of their men in the shooting.
The Nigerian press refused to cover the issue initially, so it forced us to rely on social media to record information to preserve the truth and possible evidence, some Nigerians remain unconvinced by the video evidence, in a now-deleted tweet, an actress with more than one million followers seemingly cast doubt on the Lekki shooting, requesting the bereaved to speak out. Others, however, are urging those with proof to store it in the cloud, away from potential government interference.
In conclusion, I think 2023 will be interesting for the future of the country because there is rage. But there is also the realization that if we come together and plan towards something, we can achieve it.
Achugo wrote from Eastern Polytechnic, Port Harcourt.
Still On 2020 US Election
The November 3, 2020, Presidential Election was arguably the most important election in United States post-war history. In these elections, therefore, the participation of American voters was the largest since 1900, demonstrating the resurgence of their political interest and the strongly polarizing climate that prevailed in the country. Át the same time the Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden, may have won the popular vote (4.5 million more votes than President Donald Trump) and the necessary electors, but Trump has shown great resilience, having in fact against him almost all the media, the vast majority of Hollywood.
These elections showed the deep division in the United States, which in many places led to extremely marginal election results. The intense confrontation between the two sides and the extreme rhetoric and practice is not an isolated event and may deepen even further, having a negative impact on the country.
The reasons for Trump’s electoral resilience are due to the fact that the US President had adopted an anti-systemic rhetoric of complaint of the elites, to which he however belongs, as well as an aggressive tactic against the forces of globalisation, aspects that touched strongly large sections of the middle class and, of course, the working class.
So, to the unemployed, to the people who feel they have no voice, to the provincials who are ridiculed for their manners and customs by arrogant metropolitan residents, even to citizens belonging to minorities but also to all large communities, such as African Americans and Latinos, Trump’s speech has found and continues to find great resonance. And this is despite the fact that all the movements for the protection of rights (black lives matter, etc.) were clearly against him.
And if the coronavirus pandemic had not occurred and the second wave had not broken out, which is hitting the United States as violently as the first, Trump would have easily won the elections. Thus, after the first three years of positive economic performances of the Trump administration, the March lockdown caused the closure of many small and medium-size enterprises, while more than 20 million Americans were suddenly left without a job.
And Trump would certainly have won the presidential election without the health crisis as Biden, who expresses the neo-liberal internationalism, the related globalization process and the “open society” of NGOs and the very powerful economic institutions such as George Soros and Bill Gates Foundations etc., clearly seemed to have run out of forces, proposals and slogans before he even crossed the finish line.
Trump’s political opponents and most analysts and pollsters had focused on the arrogant and selfish traits of his personality, an eccentric and highly impulsive no doubt billionaire, and of course they were wrong in believing that he would be defeated with a big difference. Trumpism, as an ideological and social phenomenon, is certain, therefore, that it has not left, is present and will continue to exist. Trump is not just a parenthesis in US political history but expresses specific distinct trends in American society and among the bourgeoisie.
The American citizens want to prosper economically in a country where social peace, order and security will prevail. Due to globalisation, many industrial units have left for poor countries where there is a cheap labour force. So, the US working class was greatly hurt. Trump was the one who demanded the return of the factories to his country, putting the USA and the American people first, in the context of the ideological tendency of ethnocentric conservatism.
Other countries, especially the powerful ones, may not like the politics of “America First”, but the same is not the case with the average American citizen, notably in deep America and the central states.
On January 20, Joe Biden will sit in his chair at the Oval Office with Kamala Harris as Vice President, for the first time in office, a woman of African, Jamaican and Indian descent. During his term and based on what he said the United States will return to the Paris Climate Treaty, according to which the minimum goal of the states is to keep the temperature at plus 2 degrees Celsius (+2 C), and that will be a positive development, as the climate change is not a “myth”. And this can be easily seen if one takes a look at the extreme weather phenomena that occur on the planet. Let us not forget that the United States is the second largest polluter in the world after China.
Also, multilateral organisms such as NATO, the UN and its offshoots, which have been strongly challenged by outgoing President Trump, will likely be treated differently by Biden’s administration, but US relations with its European allies may move in other directions.
It should be noted at this point that Trump had repeatedly threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO and reduce its contribution if other members showed no willingness to increase their spending on the organisation. Germany-US relations have also been strained for the past four years, with Trump threatening the German car industry and the European Union as a whole several times with duties. Washington’s relations with Brussels were also frozen after its decision to withdraw the United States from international climate agreements and Iran over its nuclear programme.
However, if the Republicans eventually win control of the Senate, it will cause many deep problems for the new President Biden, as they will block most of his legislative agenda.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that the predominance of Joe Biden, who has also starred in all the pathogenic characteristics that led America to its current decline – that is, widespread social inequalities, the problematic welfare state, the favour to the strong economic elites, international lawlessness etc.-is not going to lead the US on bright paths. Besides, he did not present an inspiring, comprehensive and convincing programme plan for the social, economic and political reorganisation of the society and the country.
Karderinis, an economist and novelist, wrote from Geece.
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