Tuesday, March 3, 2009



“Well I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead.
But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountain top. And I
don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its
place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And
He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen
the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight,
that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” –Dr. Martin Luther King

At the pace we are going in Nigeria, we may end up redefining what democracy truly mean. We are getting to a point where election and electoral victory is just a process. The most important victories we have witnessed so far in Nigeria nascent democracy have all come from the court. No thanks to our “wuru wuru” and “mago mago” fraudulent electoral officers. Victory on Election Day matters little. Turning out the vote and mass appeal and followings by the electorates count little.

We learnt again through the judicial victory granted Oshiomhole and Mimiko by the Court of Appeal that democracy truly needs an independent judiciary to survive. You can spend millions on “get out the vote,” you can go out on election day to knock on doors and appeal to the voters to turn out “enmass” to vote for your candidate, nothing is assured. If you are a politician planning to contest in the next election, you are better advised to save enough money not just to pay for posters but also to pay lawyers to defend your mandate if you ever won! This is the new face of democracy, a democracy for the people, by the people through the court of appeal!

There is nothing inherently wrong in judicial victory on electoral matters, we should be happy that we have independent judiciary willing to stand up for what is right. But then you ask? Why does it have to get to this level before the right thing is done? Why can’t Mr. Iwu get it right? What does he or anyone gain from subverting democracy by stealing the people’s mandate?

And by the way, are we sure the judiciary will always get it right? You only need to look at the electoral tribunal in Osun state to see how a subverted judiciary can make a mess of the process. In Osun state the chairman of the Electoral Tribunal was caught exchanging text messages with one of the counsel to the petition before him. It turns out the text messages were not just greetings, they happened to contain briefs on how to win the case he is supposed to be an impartial arbiter on. That case is still pending in the Court of Appeal and the court’s decision is been eagerly awaited by many pro-democracy activists in Nigeria and abroad.

To echo Comrade Oshiomhole ““truly, truly, now we can discuss democracy. From the point of view of making democracy work, we can discuss democracy. From the perspectives of reforming democracy, now we can discuss democracy. From the hallowed chambers, through the courts, from gavel to gavel, now we can discuss democracy,”

Friends, it is time to tell us what you think? It is time for Nigerians to stand up for democracy.

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