Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant natural and human resources, thus possessing an endless potential to be a Great Nation. But having potential is Not enough. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country has been struggling with governance issues since its inception. The country has been grappling with political instability, corruption, insecurity, and economic underdevelopment for decades. Despite adopting Western-style democracy since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has not been able to make significant progress in addressing these challenges. One could argue that the few developments it has achieved were under military administration. But the military also has failed in Nigeria and throughout Africa.
It is, therefore, imperative for Nigeria and other African nations to think out-of-the-box, in designing a uniquely African Accountable-Democratic system of government that can promote ethnic and cultural unity and promote accountability and economic development.
Africa MUST abandon Western-style democracy because it is incapable of producing viable institutions in Africa, and instead design a uniquely African accountable decentralized system of government suitable for the country. The current system of government is not suitable for Nigeria and African nations because of many contrasting cultural, religious, and other key values.
The need for African nations to design an African-centered accountable Democratic system of government does not require the African nations to import new and foreign systems of government, it only requires African leaders to look inward and improve on old and ancient African political systems, and philosophy that are amongst the best in the world.
An example of the ancient effective, decentralized political system of government can be found in the Great Benin Empire, located in the Mid-Western region of Nigeria, comprising the present-day Edo, Delta state.
The Great Benin Empire, also known as the Edo kingdom, was a powerful African kingdom that existed from the 10th century until it was annexed by the British Empire in 1897. The empire was renowned for its advanced political system and structure, which was one of the most sophisticated in Africa, and in the ancient world at the time.
The earliest dynasty of the Benin Empire was ruled by the Ogiso a monarch, later known as the Oba, (King) who was regarded as a divine king with supreme authority. The Oba was responsible for administering justice, maintaining order, and ensuring the welfare of his subjects. He was also considered to be the spiritual leader of the empire, with the power to communicate with the ancestors and the gods.
The political system of the Benin Empire appears on the surface as a centralized system, but its political structure and power were decentralized. The Oba (King) appointed officials to oversee various aspects of the empire, such as the military, judiciary, and administration. These officials were known as the Eghaevbo n’Ore, and they were chosen based mostly on their merit.
One of the most remarkable features of the Benin Empire’s political system was its use of guilds or associations, known as the “Uzama.” These guilds were made up of senior members of the society, including chiefs, elders, and titled men. They were responsible for advising the Oba on matters of state and served as a check on the monarch’s power. The Uzama also had the power to remove an Oba(King) who was incompetent or tyrannical. This uniquely Benin structure of accountability distinguishes the Benin political system from other monarchs where the king was above the law.
The political system and structure of the Great Benin Empire were remarkable for their sophistication and complexity. The empire’s highly decentralized, and accountable system of government, use of guilds, and military prowess helped to maintain its power and influence for centuries. The legacy of the Benin Empire lives on today, with its art, culture, and political institutions continuing to inspire and influence the people of Nigeria and beyond.
To further illustrate my point, Western-style democracy is based on individualism, which contradicts the collectivist nature of African culture.
African culture values communalism and consensus-building over individualism. Therefore, it is difficult to implement a Western-style democracy in a society that values collectivism.
Moreover, Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent on oil, which has made the country vulnerable to external shocks. The Western-style democracy encourages a free-market economy, which may not be suitable for a country like Nigeria which has a large informal sector and high poverty rates. A decentralized system of government that prioritizes local economic development may be more suitable for Nigeria.
Another reason why Nigeria needs a decentralized system of government is to address the issue of corruption. Corruption has been a significant challenge in Nigeria’s democratic system, with several high-profile cases of embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds. A decentralized system of government that promotes transparency, accountability, and community participation in governance may help address the issue of corruption.
Furthermore, a decentralized system of government would empower local communities to take charge of their development agenda. This would promote community participation in decision-making processes and enhance the capacity of local governments to deliver services to citizens. The current centralized system of government has not been able to address the developmental needs of local communities, resulting in a lack of access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
In conclusion, Nigeria urgently needs to abandon Western-style democracy and instead design a uniquely African accountable decentralized system of government suitable for the country. This would address the challenges of cultural differences, ethnic diversity, economic disparities, corruption, and underdevelopment. The new system of government should prioritize community participation, local economic development, and transparency and accountability in governance. By doing so, Nigeria can build a more inclusive, democratic, and prosperous society for all its citizens.
AFRO WORLD NEWS