By Ojooluwa Ibiloye
Nigeria’s democracy is two decades. During the period, Nigeria lay in the shadow of defeated revolution. The elites nearly made the revolution impossible. Since 1999, May 29 has been earmarked to celebrate the Nigerian festival of democracy. Significant successes can be attributed to Nigeria’s democracy, but some hiccups have undermined the principles of democracy in the country.
Democracy is the only legitimate form of government which derives its powers from the governed. Elections make the lower class supreme in democracy. Since 1999, the masses have only been able to impose their will through ballot boxes but the minority have the mission of ruling the country.
When discussing democracy in Nigeria, the question of inclusiveness comes to the fore. Inclusive democracy expresses democracy in terms of social organization that re-integrates the society. As a result of the elitist establishment, Nigeria’s democracy has concentrated enormous powers in the hands of the elites. As a result, in the last two decades, the ‘cabals’ have been in control of the market (economy) and the political structure. Immediately after the return to democracy, the old ‘Green Berets’ found their way back into Nigeria’s democratic system, and of course, they have used civilian powers to maintain their hegemonic structure. Inclusiveness in Nigeria’s democratic setting is still a mirage.
A bit departure from the status quo, is the just concluded 2019 Presidential election which saw the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari re-elected. The first two years of Buhari’s administration could be likened to the time of famine, as described in the Holy Bible. There was limited food in the land and people could not find means of survival. Many lost their lives to hunger and insecurity. It was a terrible moment for Nigerians.
What actually happened? The first term of Buhari signifies the period of change, change from the old structure to a new one. Revolutions are by nature periods of crisis management in which the old structure tumbles. As beautiful as revolution is, sadly, it is no respecter of legality. Departing an existing structure for a new one comes with its own predicaments.
The system nearly crumbled but people endured it by sustaining faith in the government. As expected, majority were angry for divergent reasons. Some were disappointed because they couldn’t get a decent living, but some were expressly angry because they no longer have access to the immunity they enjoyed in the past. Then the Class Struggle began – the conflict between the rich and the poor. In other words, the last four years was a struggle between the lower class and the upper class.
The outcome of the Nigeria 2019 Presidential election that gave President Muhammadu Buhari victory expresses the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dictatorship of the proletariat is the establishment of popular sovereignty in the society. It is a state in which the poor or the working class has control of political power. This term was adopted by the founders of Marxism; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Unfortunately, the aspiration of the lower class to determine who gets what, when and how has been vehemently resisted by those with the economic power. A revolution is nearly not possible without economic power which the political elites control and as such the political elites have economic advantage over the proletariat.
The proletariat voted against the bourgeoisie in the last Presidential election but the dictatorship of the proletariat is not the same as the rule of the proletariat. The proletariat can install a democratic government, thereafter, they have no say. The minority rules in democracy, and this remains one of the deficits of democracy. The proletariats are those in the lower/working class and are higher in number than those in the upper class. The proletariat are the poorest of the poor and are always the vulnerable group in the society. Despite their low economic condition, only the lower class (majority) can determine who wins an election in a democracy, not the opportunistic few (minority).
Before the class struggle will pay off, the proletariat must be able to establish their own government. President Muhammadu Buhari is a member of the upper class who is identifying with the lower class. For proletarian victory to be recorded, there is need for someone from the lower or middle class to come to power. This is even the specific form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the great French revolution has shown.
Ojooluwa Ibiloye is a Political Economist and a Global Youth Ambassador