Democracy is one of the greatest gifts of the Greeks to the world. For far too long, this political system has become the toast of many a state that is sought after the world over. From North America, Europe, and Australia to Asia and Africa, it is a robust warm embrace in varying proportions. Historically, this beautiful political bride originated from the ancient city-state of Athens in antiquity. It is simply government of the majority, or, at best, government by popular consent. “Demo Kratos” —- as it was coined from inception —- is anchored on the Latin dictum of ” vox populi, vox Dei”( the voice of the people is the voice of God). It places the concerns and needs of the people at the center stage.

It makes their yearnings and aspirations its centerpiece. It is propped up by the people, managed by the people, and steered towards realizing the lofty dreams of the people. It nurtures the people and it is nurtured by the people. The people are called different names in different climes. They are simply ” populi “among Latin speakers. The British refer to them as the “commoners”. To the Hausas of Northern Nigeria, they are ” talakawas”. The Yorubas of Southwest Nigeria calls them ” mekunnu”. They are known as the “plebeians or plebs” amongst the Romans.

The Greeks tag them “hoi polloi”. Broadly speaking, two facets of democracy is identifiable: Direct and indirect democracy. Direct democracy, otherwise known as “classical or Athenian democracy”, gathers people together at a central location to determine the affairs of the state, However, indirect democracy runs the affairs of the state through elected representatives. Thus, it is also called “representative democracy”, which holds sway in modern states of the world. It is interesting to note that democracy endears itself to many a state globally with its distinctive attributes.

It organizes elections at periodic intervals. For many states, including Nigeria, the baton of leadership changes hands every four years. It gives every Tom an equal opportunity for elective position, without let or hindrance, regardless of clout, creed, or status. It allows the majority to have a dominant say while recognizing the minority and respecting their views. It guarantees fundamental human rights.

These include the right to life, freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of association, and right to private and family life, among others. It allows a free press devoid of censorship to inform, educate entertain, and criticize constructively. It observes the rule of law, where the powers of the leaders and the conduct of the followers are subject to the provisions of the Constitution. It accommodates organized opposition with dynamic intellectual engagements and discourses.

Equally, it tolerates dissenting views within the ambit of the law. If the standpoint that the worst democracy is better than the best kakistocracy (stratocracy/military rule) is anything to go by, then it goes without saying that all people of goodwill across the globe should fight tooth and nail to ensure that the ” government of the people by the people and for the people” does not vanish from planet earth.

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