Lessons from American Democracy! – By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu



I was reluctant about writing this article, because I know that Nigerian “lootocrats”   masquerading as  leaders  never  learn.  It is not a secret that these so called leaders spend more time abroad than they do in Nigeria. Due to their abundant loot,  they  have  the  most sophisticated  television sets, cable channels and generators that keep them tuned   into  the  global  circuit of news. Most of them are also from the earlier generation that lived through the 1st republic and the reasonably good governance of that era.  Thus, it is not a lack of knowledge of what to do that has created the rot in Nigeria, but a deliberate conspiracy to loot and vandalise the nation. Like a Pig that is pathologically inclined to dirt, no matter how much exposure, experience or knowledge Nigerian leaders are bequeathed,   they  will  sooner jump into the murky and filthy pond of  corruption and misrule.


As  we  celebrate Barack Obama’s  historic  re-election and  the elaborate  swearing in ceremony, conducted in the finest traditions of American excellence,  it is pertinent to point out the many  lessons from American democracy that provides a real time lecture of political science. First, it is remarkable that in more than two centuries of American democracy from George Washington, the first president in 1789 to the present,  there has never  been cases of organized election rigging, thuggery,  hand picking of candidates   and other such corrupt acts by American leaders.  George Washington  came under  immense pressure  by the ever present  palace sycophants  to manipulate  the system and become  a lifelong president, but he refused. He spent two terms in office and bowed out in dignity,  having chosen to make the  necessary  sacrifice and lay the foundation for a  durable  democracy.  That singular act by George Washington contributed in birthing  the iconic American democracy  that has become a beacon for the rest of the world.


The American constitution, exhaustively debated and negotiated by the founding  fathers and a broad spectrum of American society  remains a living and somewhat sacred document, imbued with the finest ideals of freedom, justice, equality and fundamental  human rights  far ahead of its time. That the same constitution enacted centuries ago, remains America’s article of faith is testament to the  near divinity of the founding fathers. The cherished attributes of  a living constitution, functional  state institutions, a  jealously guided  free and fair electoral process  and ultimately the sacrifices of the founding fathers have  preserved American democracy  for more than two hundred years  and contributed in large measure in making America the greatest nation on earth.  President Obama’s  re-election owes to this  long legacy of exemplary American democracy that is nurtured through rich debates , ideology and  free elections.


Another  fine attribute of American democracy  is its anchoring on ideological  political parties that are defined by policies and programmes that differentiate  each party from the other. This affords the American citizenry a clear choice in picking their leaders at every level of government.  The world was  treated  to charged and  lively sessions  of public policy debates between Barack Obama and Mit Romney  as they traded off endlessly on  the economy, jobs, foreign policy  amongst others with each candidate articulating a clear plan for job creation and the re-invigoration of the economy. The economy and jobs took a deserved centre stage in the political debates in recognition of the fact that the welfare of citizens constitutes one of the most fundamental purposes of government.


Unlike in Nigeria, American politicians do not ignore the welfare  of  their  citizens,  neither  do they  arm thugs to kill, maim and  snatch ballot boxes, nor do they  have presidents and  godfathers that arrange with electoral umpires to rig elections, announce fraudulent results and loot the coffers once in power.  This fundamental  difference  between America and Nigeria has made America the greatest  and most prosperous nation on earth  while Nigeria in stark contrast  is one of  the poorest and  most dysfunctional  (failed) states on earth.  Nigeria is on a self navigated  route to perdition except  we  learn the important lessons from  American democracy.


By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

Email: larry_peters@yahoo.ie



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