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The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.”( Wael Ghonim:) Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal right and say in the decisions and affairs that affect their lives. Democracy is a medium or tool used by citizens to choose their leaders and to hold them accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. Of all definitions of the word democracy the most used and well précised is that of the late American president, Abraham Lincoln: “government of the people, by the people and for the people. Meaning democracy is all about the people.  Democracy is a form of leadership that is centered on the people. It is governance by the people and for the people. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally either directly or through elected representatives in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. Democracy is built on the parity of citizens; the freedom of these citizens to associate with one another. Democracy is the sum of social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The word Democracy was coined from ancient Greek words (dēmokratía).The Greek word demos means”the people”; kratein, means “to rule”. It is a political system in which the people of a country rule through any form of government they choose to establish. The term democracy is an antonym to (aristocratie) “Rule of elite”. Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. The people in a democratic system of government here, refers to the masses, the individuals, the society, and working class through whom the occupiers of offices obtain their power. In a democratic system of government the power belongs to the people, and “democratic governance” recognizes it holds power in trust for the people. The practice here is to adhere and listen to the people not by choice but by obligation. Democracy consists of some basic elements; a political system for choosing and replacing the government through hitch free elections, participation of the people as citizens in politics and civic life, the protection of the rights of all citizens of that country, a rule of law in which the laws apply to every citizen of that country. THE DEMOCRACY SYSTEM In a democratic system, the people decide who will represent and head them at the national and local levels.  This is achieved by holding regular free and fair elections. Government is based on the consent of the governed (the people). The people are sovereign; they are the highest form of political authority.  Citizens are liberated to criticize their elected leaders and representatives, and to observe how they conduct the business of government. Elections have to transpire at regular intervals, as prescribed or according to the law. Leaders in power cannot extend their terms in office without asking for the consent of the people again in an election. Parties and candidates have the right to campaign freely, both directly and through the means of mass media. Political parties form the cornerstone of a democratic society and serve a function unlike any other institution in a democracy. In a democracy, participation in civic groups should be voluntary. In a democratic system, citizen has certain basic rights that the government cannot interfere with. These rights are guaranteed under international law. Citizens are guaranteed equal rights, responsibilities and privileges. This means that all citizens have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Every citizen has the right to have their own beliefs, and express how they feel. There is freedom and pluralism in the mass media. Your rights, privileges, fairness, responsibility, and participation are subsequent of democratic governance. Democracy is a system ruled by laws. The rule of law protects the rights of citizens, maintains order, and limits the power of government. Citizens in a democratic system are equal by law. No one may be arrested, imprisoned, or exiled arbitrarily. No one is above the law, not even the traditional rulers or an elected president. Cruelty and inhumane treatment are absolutely prohibited. The rule of law places limits on the power of government. Democracy can only work when all the citizens can exercise their civic right, observed under certain principles and rules of democratic conduct. Nigeria has shifted pavement from military rule to 14 years of continuous civil rule. From the picture painted above about the democratic system, the questions still lingers; do we really practice Democracy? Is it really a government of the people, by the people and for the people? You decide.

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This article was first published on 29th May 2013

Comments (5)

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