Home Opinion The role of structure and texture in modern democracy, By Usman O...

The role of structure and texture in modern democracy, By Usman O Abdullahi

Usman O Abdullahi

Democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. There is a reason why the word “people” resonates and reverberates in its definition. This is simply because democracy revolves around the people and in summary; it is all about the people. But what holds democracy? What supports democracy? How is democracy sustained? The answers to the aforementioned questions can be found in creating a formidable structure and texture.

According to Wiktionary, structure is a set of rules defining behaviour and it is also the overall form or organisation of something, this means that for democracy to survive and thrive anywhere there must be rules guiding it and the implementation of these rules to the latter. The former is easier to draft but the latter is always the drawback as the popular maxim by Abraham Lincoln in his Cooper Union Address, “Actions speak louder than words”. But then, how are these rules implemented?

Rules are implemented by instituting formidable institutions that restrain and constrain the populace to fit into the circumference of the set rules despite who is involved and irrespective of whose ox is gored. Albeit, since these institutions are formed by the people, it should be binding on all and sundry since democracy is meant to promote egalitarianism. Where does texture come into play?

Texture on the other hand as defined by Oxford Dictionary is the feel or shape of a substance. The texture is quite important in any democracy as it gives shape to the structure. The shape the texture gives is quite unique and peculiar in different locations, which is simply bringing governance to the people in a way they understand and appreciate. This also pre-informs the political actors as to when, where and how to galvanize people to always come through for them.

Coming back to my home country, Nigeria, it is indeed true that our democracy is nascent and inchoate; hence, there might be some flaws here and there, lacunae therewith but most importantly, we should learn from our faux pas, grow beyond them so as to make arithmetic or geometric progress ab initio.

Our Electoral Act 2022 contains rules and regulations that will help shape our democracy if utterly implemented, but the truth is that irrespective of how immaculate or impeccable the Electoral Act is, the people need to apprise themselves with its contents and proviso, knowing their individual and collective roles in the electoral process, only then we will know if it has been fully complied with or not.

While I reminisce and retrospect on the recently concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, i must admit that the level of unprecedented enthusiasm and awareness I have never heard nor seen in our nation’s history was so audible, visible and laudable. The youthful population decided to own the process, they were utterly involved in the accreditation, voting and securing their votes to the best of their abilities and i salute them for their tenacity and temerity. However, for our democracy to leap from where we currently are, a lot more needs to be done.

Mr Peter Obi, one of the major candidates in the race also showed his strength, he is an excellent and charismatic leader who saw the yearnings of Nigeria and came in as an intervention towards fixing the system and was accepted. Moreover, modern democracy goes beyond acceptance, hence; my advocacy for a formidable structure and texture.

PO as he is fondly called came in as a third force but this time a very potent force and I must confess he astounded our electoral process from what it has always been “the two-horse race”. Prior to the election, he was called “The Disrupter”, indeed he was a good disrupter for our democracy because he opened up a gamut of possibilities in our electoral process and reinstilled confidence in the people that votes do count and power indeed belongs to the people. However, this was not enough to make him victorious in the election.

His party came in as a stopgap to stabilise the country but also needed time to have structure and texture in place. He had it big in few places like Lagos State where he got a historic feat; he conquered the South-East outrightly, dominated the south-south overwhelmingly and occupied the north-central with the FCT robustly. Prior to the election, he was asked severally how sure he was of victory since he didn’t have a structure, he retorted “the people are the structure”, this in itself is true but how structured are the people on his side and what is the significance of their texture?

No doubts, he got huge reception and this translated to votes in areas that had high level awareness, literacy and places that were urban and cosmopolitan. But how about the rural areas? Since our country has more rural areas than urban areas, it will be difficult for anyone to step into the saddle of a president without traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria with a formidable structure and texture.

President Muhammadu Buhari participated in elections of 2003, 2007, 2011 and got considerable votes from the North-East, North-West, North-Central but couldn’t get into the Villa but when he decided to stretch his hands to the south to build bridges, his alliance with the south-west gave him a resounding victory in 2015 and subsequent re-election in 2019. 

While I appreciate Mr Peter Obi’s contribution to modern democracy, it is noteworthy that his movement has brought in some new faces to the National Assembly which shows he has clout and people believe in him resoundingly, he may need to learn from the principle of structured alliance, he needs many villages to hear, see and feel him, only then he can earn their trust.

Mr Bola Ahmad Tinubu (BAT) has shown that as the BAT he could fly round Nigeria and make his presence felt in all the nooks and crannies of our dear country. He has a formidable structure as he was able to reach out to all and sundry, bring them on board and make them believe his vision, mission and direction. This is the real structure and texture in modern democracy.

The drafters of our constitution knew that the subject matter could be an issue, hence; they inserted Section 133(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which mandates that for any candidate to be validly elected, he should have not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all states in the federation and Federal Capital Territory so that the candidate who emerges victorious is one who truly has the mandate of the people.

I congratulate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he is a visionary leader, political doyen, dogged fighter, tenacious comrade and most importantly a master strategist. Irrespective of how he was maligned and denigrated, he has shown the world that he is truly an iroko tree that is immovable and unperturbed by the boisterous wind. This goes a long way to tell people “results handle insults”, and only those that can see the invisible can achieve the impossible.

Asiwaju as his name implies has shown from time immemorial that he was born to lead and is always in front. We pray he would be able to put Nigeria in front of the world map and make us proud as a people in the comity of nations. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Usman O. Abdullahi is a writer and public affairs analyst based in Lagos and can be reached via [email protected]

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