Nigeria: Democracy and Rule of Law

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I am most delighted to welcome the numerous readers and network members of ROLU business magazine to the month of June 2023. June is invariably the middle of the year.

It is truly amazing that we have so soon come to the middle of this year after all the scary experiences everyone had in the past few years and especially in 2022. The Covid pandemic that mowed down citizens of every nation in their thousands was a great eye opener to us about our common humanity. It made people everywhere to understand that the world’s great divide had moved on from white and black dichotomy to good and bad dichotomy. The emphasis and the war were no longer between the white people and the black people. It was now between the good people and the bad people. 

Out there are so many really nice, accommodating, humane and compassionate white people you would want to be friends with any day. And there are those you would hurriedly turn down their offer of friendship even with a million pounds gift attached to it because they are bad, selfish and arrogant. You can’t trust them for any reason because you don’t feel safe in their presence. 

By the same token, there are so many good and very useful black people out there whose warmth and loving care you would want to cherish any day, just as there are the foul-mouthed, rude and selfish ones you would never like to be friends with even with ten million pounds gift attached to their friendship request. 

The pandemic taught humanity a lot of lessons with which many of us in the business world practically launched back into business in 2023. One of the more important lessons was working from home. Another was becoming more digital in our businesses and work. Most company workers became more digitally responsive to their work and that also affected us at ROLU magazine. As the saying goes: “there is an advantage in every disadvantage!” Very many of us experienced it soon after the pandemic. We must be grateful to God that we witnessed all that happened in 2022, and moved safely on to 2023. 

Back in Nigeria, the 25 February 2023 Presidential election came and flitted past. Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, the presumed winner of the election was sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.  Some state governors and legislators were also sworn in, in their various states. The people of Nigeria should be happy to welcome these new political leaders of the country into their new offices and new roles.  Nigerians want to be proud of them. And they must not forget that. 

Although the election of Asiwaju Tinubu had been very controversial and some parties opposed to the process that produced him as president went to court to challenge the election results, it will be necessary for Nigerian politicians and their supporters to lie low and wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court which will invariably resolve the stalemate. Whatever party the Supreme Court finally favours must be accepted by all the people of Nigeria. After all that they have been through in the last 24 years, they would certainly not want to add to their sufferings by toeing the war path. Everyone must accept the verdict of the highest court in the land, learn their lessons and just get on with their lives. 

It is also necessary to remember that 12 June is the day the Nigerian government carved out as Democracy Day. It is important that all Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day both at home and on the streets and parks of every of the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory. It is important for Nigerians to reflect on that day, what democracy means to them. Does it mean ‘do or die’? Does it mean ‘you chop, I chop’? Does it mean ‘Live and let live’? Does it mean ‘Live and let die’? Does it mean ‘united we stand, divided we fall’? What does the word ‘democracy’ mean to the average Nigerian? And what does it mean to the government and the people who run it? These are very important issues that must be tackled at all levels of the Nigerian society by the new government. The government and the people of Nigeria must be on the same chapter in their understanding of what democracy means to them. 

Indeed, it is no secret that Nigerians admire people from other countries because those people understand and respect the rule of law better than the Nigerians do.  What should the ordinary Nigerian walking the streets of Lagos, Kano, Enugu or Port Harcourt know about the rule of law which our politicians and government officials often quote or bandy around? It is simply that the rule of law is the mechanism, the process, the institution, the practice or the norm that stamps the equality of ALL citizens before the law. It is even more important they know that the rule of law also means that the creation of laws itself, their enforcement and how they relate to every other law are themselves regulated by law, so that no one — not even the most highly placed official—is above the law, not the President, not the Minister, not any Nigerian. 

The legal constraint on government officials by the rule of law means that the government is subject to existing laws as much as its citizens are. In that case, equality before the law holds that no “legal person” shall enjoy privileges that are not extended to ALL and that no person shall be immune from legal sanctions. In addition, the application and adjudication of legal rules by various governing officials must be impartial and consistent across equivalent cases, made blindly without taking into consideration the class, status or relative power among disputants. And in order for those ideas to have any real significance, there should be in place some legal apparatus for compelling officials to submit to the law. A situation where Nigerian government officials give the impression to the world that they are above the law is not good enough. The new government must act on that. 

On a final note, I wish to once again appeal to ROLU network members first to ensure that their businesses are duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission to qualify for our continued coverage. And secondly that they pay their annual dues in compliance with their categories. We will definitely start with our delisting exercise from the first of July, and hope no members would say they were not told in time. They have all through the month to pay up their bills or risk being delisted from both our website and all our social media forums. The choice is theirs.

I do sincerely pray that most of the problems we are all facing at this time of the year will be entirely resolved by the grace of God. Amen.

I wish each and every one of us a progressive, blissful, assuring and happy June.

  • Chief Sir Emeka Asinugo, KSC.


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