Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.
References for this paper are not available at this time. We will be adding them shortly, thank you for your patience.
This paper focuses on the problem of conflicts that are sociopolitical in nature. It thus agrees that conflict is a product of human interaction, but its degeneration into violence is avoidable and consequently detestable. The repressive, depressive and destructive functions of socio-political conflict are seen as products of the tension that exists between personal values and social values among the different individuals and groups that make up the nation of Nigeria, especially in the very attempt at defining national security, social peace and political stability. This contretemps undermines the success of democracy in Nigeria; it is more problematic when democracy as a form of government is discovered to harbour conflict in its very attempts at ensuring an enduring social order. The paper thus advocates for a fundamental socio-political reconstruction based on the cherished values of African traditional thought that promotes social cohesion, respect for the dignity of the human person, social justice and economic growth. The philosophical methods of analysis and conceptual clarification, in addition to empirical methods, are employed. Keywords: conflict, violent conflict, democracy, value, social stability INTRODUCTION The pervasiveness of conflicts in Africa and the widely held opinion that democracy is a mitigating antidote places "conflict" and "democracy" on the front burner of discourses on what is needed to facilitate the sociopolitical and economic transformation of the African continent. This is especially true in Nigeria, where religious, ethnic, social and political conflicts are everyday occurrences. Conflicts and violence of a different magnitude have continued to ravage the entire Nigerian society like hurricanes, especially during the democratic periods of the first, second, third and fourth republics. "Be127 Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict tween 1999 and 2003, there were over 50 ethnic conflicts in Nigeria and a loss of 25,000 lives and property worth billions of naira."1 Notable conflicts of violent dimensions that have engulfed the country include the Kaduna ethno-religious conflict of 2000, the 2001 ethno-religious mayhem in Jos, the 2002 Hausa-Fulani versus the ethnic militia group of Yoruba extraction imbroglio in Lagos, the Tiv-Jukun crisis of 19901992 and 2001, and the violent Urhobo and Itsekiri clash of 2003. Between 2004 and today, violent conflict has continued unabated in the forms of renewed agitation for resource control by groups in the NigerDelta area of the country, resumption of violent hostilities in Jos in 2009, 2010 and 2011, attacks on Christians in Bauchi, Maiduguri and Jos by some religious fundamentalists known as Boko Haram, and the unleashing of violence in 2011 on the Mogadishu military cantonment in Abuja just a sample of the manifestations of crisis in Nigeria. From each of the aforementioned violent conflicts there is a legacy of deaths of hundreds of people, arson, hostage taking, rape, maiming and the infliction of deep psychological scars on perceived opponents, in addition to gross abuse of the dignities of human persons and encroachment on the human rights of others. The situation is best described as a drift towards the Hobbesian State of Nature, where morality was thrown into the dustbin. These conflicts, at face value, appear essentially to be religiously induced conflicts, but the reality is that they are products of the socio-political situation in the country. The rising profile of democracy is enhanced by its inherent potential to protect and promote the dignity of human persons, an issue that is constantly rubbished or abused by conflict in even its slightest manifestation. In other words, democracy is synonymous with decency and civilization in the social and political spheres. In the light of the varieties of interpretations and meanings of the concepts of "democracy" and "conflict", the former is understood in this work as majoritarian democracy, while the latter is understood as violence occasioned by differences in values. Undoubtedly, democracy has become a global hype; so much so that individuals, groups, nations, all regime types and the worst dictators would want to be dressed in the toga of democracy. The introduction of democracy as a form of government in Nigeria is premised on its potential to address effectively the myriad problems confronting the nation. Specifically it is seen as a ticket for securing socio-political peace in a multi 128 Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict cultural society like Nigeria. However, democracy in Nigeria could best be likened to a Trojan Horse in that it exhibits negative, positive, destructive and progressive traits; it harbours the seeds of dissolution and decay, as well as those of life and advancement. Most often the manifestations of these negative traits are aided and abetted by conflict. This work therefore focuses on the problem of value as manifested between the ruled and the rulers, which consequently engenders sociopolitical conflicts in a democracy in Nigeria. The paper is of the opinion that the different conflicts that have engulfed the Nigerian state, be they religious, ethnic or class conflicts, all have a political undertone. They are directly or indirectly concerned with the sharing of power and/or the distribution of national resources. The paper is a radical departure from previous studies because it not only addresses the problem of value as a source of conflicts, it also situates such conflicts within the ambits of democracy, while emphasizing that democracy by its very nature is conflictual, thereby adding weight to the assertion of Adam Przeworski that "democracy is a form of institutionalization of continual conflicts and of uncertainty of subjecting all interests to uncertainty."2 Put in another way, the nature of democracy itself promotes conflict in the very attempt to achieve a just, humane and egalitarian society; J. S. Mill notes that "democracy is superior to other forms of government because the rights and interests of every person are secure from being disregarded only when the person interested is himself able and habitually disposed to stand up for them."3 The agitated groups within the polity are disposed to stand up to defend their legitimate rights, albeit through violence. The failure to effectively reconcile the divergent values and attitudes of those who are genuinely interested in the positive transformation of the country on the one hand, and those who champion selfish and myopic values on the other, has been a source of conflict in Nigeria's democratic experiment. The work, therefore, is divided into this introductory section, followed by a section that attempts to contextualize the concepts of democracy and conflict to guard against ambiguities. Value, patriotism and democratic ethics are examined in the third section, while the fourth section exposes values as the basis for conflict in Nigeria's democracy. The final section makes a case for the re-enactment of the traditional past, as an antidote to the spate of violent conflicts in Nigeria's democracy. Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict CONCEPTUALIZING DEMOCRACY AND CONFLICT 1. Democracy. The promotion and the pervasiveness of democracy in the contemporary world have exposed the concept to some definitional haze and diverse forms of interpretation,4 so much so that "an almost inexhaustible literature exists on the concept ... and [there is an] absence of consensus by scholars on the appropriate delineation of the nature and contours of the term."5 Carl Cohen describes democracy as a foremost political idea in the world. Praised on every hand, equally by those otherwise in philosophical disagreement ... professed by some who understand it little and want it less. As a consequence of careless rhetoric, intellectual confusion and even some deliberate deception, the term "democracy" has been largely drained of its meaning ... it has come to mean almost nothing.6 The multiplicity of definitions aided the emergence of various typologies of democracy such as liberal, participatory, deliberative, defensive, multiparty, Jacksonian and direct democracies, to name but a few. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that there is no universal definition of the concept. This development must not overshadow the necessity of a clearcut definition of the concept; what democracy is must not be divorced from what it should be as it is the values and ideals of democracy that make it the most attractive form of government. There are some underlying substrata that are peculiar to every democratic practice the will of the people is unsurprisingly accorded pride of place. This perhaps informs the definition of democracy given by Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg declaration in 1863, as being "the government of the people by the people and for the people."7 This implies that recognition is accorded to the people to participate in bringing forth an ideal government for the people. It is in light of this that Francis Offor defines democracy in modern times as "a system of government in which every individual participates in the process of government either maximally or minimally, maximally as an elected representative or minimally through an elected representative."8 One must quickly say that the expression "people" is ambiguous. It could connote different things to different people. It could stand for rulers or it could stand for the masses; the worst dictatorial government comprises a group of people and not lesser animals. This ambiguity also accounts for the conflict in democracy in Nigeria, as will be exposed later. Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict Other ideals of democracy that should form the hallmark of its definition include, "free and fair election, open and accountable government, civil and political liberties."9 In an ideal democracy there is a culture of openness the wants of the individual as well as the individual's ability to contribute to the welfare of the society are recognized. In addition, democracy encourages checks and balances. In this sense, it is cognitively appropriate to see democracy as a discursive platform for both the ruled and the rulers. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that everyone has a right to take part in the government of his country directly or indirectly through freely chosen representatives. Since not all the people can participate effectively or maximally, as in Ancient Greece, those elected to represent them should be accountable to the "unfortunate" ones. It is in light of this that Kolawole Owolabi defines democracy as "the participation of the majority and the accountability of the powerful."10 However, in most democracies, especially as practiced in Nigeria ... the requirement of a human community with civic capacity to enter into rational discussion on public affairs and participate actively in the government of the day is more a theoretical grandstanding than what happens in the actual course of events.11 This and other factors have made democracy in Nigeria prone to conflict. This does not suggest that conflict in democracy is the exclusive preserve of Nigeria as we know that wherever democracy is practiced, there must be an atom of conflict. For instance, in America when there is talk about conflict it is about "truth" while in Europe any discussion on crises must have relevance with the issue of power.12 2. Conflict. The society is the pivot for the oscillation of democracy and conflict; this is because the society is a product of cooperation that facilitates interactions between men. In other words, democracy and conflict are social concepts. Conflict is a natural phenomenon in human society; it has eaten deep into the fabric of human society, so much so that F.S. Northedge,13 Ikenna Nzimiro14 and Jim Unah15 posit that it is an endemic feature of human society and is built into all human relations. This is so because the existence of and the unavoidable interactions between two or more people is a sufficient condition for the manifestation of conflict. Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict Conflict is not an over-arching concept it can assume non-violent or violent dimensions. Non-violent conflict is a state of disagreement or a situation of disharmony, which is a by-product of differences among individuals, communities or nations. This disagreement engenders illfeelings as well as disaffection towards the perceived opponent and it has the potential to degenerate into violent conflict if not properly managed. Violent conflict, on the other hand, connotes "brutality, aggression, cruelty and fighting".16 It is "a struggle ... which the aims of the conflicting parties are not only to gain the desired values but also to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals."17 This is achieved through physical might or offensive weapons. Both conceptions of conflict are paradoxical in nature. They could assume positive, progressive and constructive dimensions, as well as negative, regressive and destructive dimensions. To Bill Dudley,18 conflict is necessary for the creation of political order and consequently political development. Speaking in the same vein, Jean Blondel19 is of the view that political actions are necessary for social transformation and there cannot be political action without conflict. Suffice it to say, many important changes in human society, especially for the enhancement of human life, have come through conflict. In the same vein, the negative and destructive dimension that conflict could assume makes it a detestable phenomenon from the perspectives of such notable figures as Martin Luther King,20 Mahatma Ghandi21 and Leo Tolstoy.22 This negativity continually facilitates the decimation and disintegration of the Nigerian nation. The conflict that continually threatens the survival of democracy in Nigeria, and by extension the unity of the nation, is a conflict of value arising from the interaction between the ruled and the rulers, the patriotic and the unpatriotic elements, the military and the civilian. Each of these groups strives to protect the interests of its group, even at the detriment of other stakeholders. 3. Value, Patriotism and Democratic Ethics. Values are standards, beliefs, principles and desirable qualities that are perceived and pursued as worthwhile ventures by a person or group of persons. The perception of a value does not in any way establish the rightness or otherwise of that value, rather it reinforces the belief and consequently influences the attitude of the perceiver in what is perceived. In the manner in which the individual person has value (personal value), so the society/country has core social values, which represents the group-mind. The core social values include social Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict cooperation, trust, tolerance, justice and compassion. The subscription to the social values of a particular institution or state by the citizens is what is referred to as patriotism. When the values of the society are at variance with those of the individual, the individual becomes a deviant. By much the same token, when the personal values of an elected leader contravene those of the society, the tendency towards conflict is always higher because there are bound to be agitations. Agitations are capable of assuming a violent dimension depending on the emotional stability of the aggrieved. The political society of the democratic Nigeria is dominated by a combination of military politicians, the civilian political class and the party system. These groups constitute Nigeria's ruling class whose existence, as rightly noted by Robert Fatton, "implies the existence of a state whose role is to preserve and promote the economic, social and the political structure of the ruling class dominance."23 The conduct of the political system in Nigeria's democratic experiment, like every other democracy, involves the distribution of state power, the transfer of power (succession), the control of the abuse of power, and the rules involved in the quest for gaining office. However, in the attempt at actualizing this, consideration ought to be given to democratic ethics, which emphasize effective participation by Nigerians of the approved age bracket to vote and be voted for, respect for the ballot, timely vacation of elected office, and acceptance of a free and fair election. Patriotism includes the strict adherence to this democratic ethos. But experience has lamentably shown that, rather than adhere to this democratic ethos, Nigerian politicians/leaders more often than not manipulate the ethos and this consequently fans the embers of conflict. 4. Value as the Basis for Conflict in Nigeria's Democracy. The Nigerian military set the stage for the conflict of values that characterizes democracy in Nigeria. Without recourse to the long chain of historical development, the period of military regimes in Nigeria exemplifies a deep-seated struggle for the control of the national resources, integrity, identity and consciousness of the Nigerian state. The military displays invincibility through the enactment of decrees, such that occupants of public life were perceived to be above criticism even when in reality they were not above board in ethical issues of governance. This myth got to the point where men placed to protect the destiny of others felt strongly that nobody could question the veracity of their actions or omissions. Once head of state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida believed he possessed a clear-cut vision of what is good for Nigerians. In the Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict bid to achieve his goals, morality in governance was thrown into the dustbin; trust and respect for the institution of promise were recklessly abandoned, while corruption took centre stage in national life. For instance, several promises to hand over to elected civilians were made and broken; these culminated in a struggle between his regime and pro-democracy groups under the auspices of NADECO (National Democratic Coalition) for the control of not only the citizens but also national life. The annulled 1993 election, which was adjudged by many to be the freest, fairest and most credible in Nigeria's democratic experiment, constituted a catalyst in the chemistry of ethno-regional violence and socio-political disorder that engulfed the nation. The actions of the government were violently challenged and there was a violent response from the government; consequently there was denigration of the dignity of persons and wanton destruction of lives and properties. The military regime of Sanni Abacha that terminated the stillborn interim government headed by Ernest Shonekan did not fare better. The Abacha regime sadly refreshed one's memory about the activities of Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin of Uganda. Records of political assassinations and imprisonment of real and perceived opponents were in geometric progression. The activities of Nigerian leaders upheld the assertion that their knowledge about power and its use was informed largely by Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince or Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power. The ruler was eventually pitched against concerned citizens, the labour unions and NADECO. The integrity of the Nigerian nation and government were called into question, even by the international community; consequently, the country became a pariah state. There was a desperate struggle to save the soul of the Nigerian state, until the advent of Abdulsalam Abubakar, after the sudden death of Sanni Abacha in 1993. Abdulsalam Abubakar put in place a transition to a civil rule programme that led to the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo, a former head of state, as president. The emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo connotes many things to different Nigerians, depending on which side of the divide the individuals occupy. To many he represents a continuation and protection of the cherished values of the political class in the military; to others he was the best option, who would not upset the fundamental beliefs and values of the northern hegemony that packaged his release and emergence as president. Since 1999, Nigeria has become a guinea pig of some sort for democratic experiments. The hiccups that characterize these experiments show that Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict Nigerians either do not understand what democracy entails or they do not agree on what type of democracy we desire. On his election in 1999, President Obasanjo was reported to have said that by "electing" him president the Nigerians had transferred their sovereignty to him. A similar utterance was credited to one of the 20072011 National Assembly members.24 This is a misrepresentation of democracy to the electorate. The elite construed Obasanjo's utterance to mean the same as the infamous line of the French monarch Louis XIV: "I am the state". The battle line was consequently drawn between the supporters of his regime and those who felt he had bitten off more than he could chew. Among the very first challenge to the nascent democracy under Olusegun Obasanjo, in terms of differences in values, was the position of a state governor from the Muslim-dominated north Zamfara, who introduced the shariah legal system to that part of the country. The governor claimed he was determined to promote the cherished religious values of the people that voted him into power. This disposition was an affront to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which recognizes the secularity of the Nigerian state. This is particularly relevant since residents of the state consist of believers of other faiths. Nigeria is a secular state and the constitution recognizes it as such. The action of Governor Yeriman Bakura generated tension across the land as the economic activities of some non-Muslim residents in the state were paralysed and social freedom of association was curtailed. There were calls for the exclusion of the states that had introduced the shariah legal system from a share of any national wealth accrued from the production, sale or distribution of alcohol. There were divergent interests on the meaning of what constitutes good peace and stability of the nation. This conflict of value and the attendant abuse of rights is a clear demonstration that there were no clearly defined and established ways of harmonizing diverse and conflicting interests and values of the different groups in the democratic set-up of Nigerian society; rather, there were insurrections of ethnic militias such as the Bakassi Boys, the O'dua People's Congress, the Arewa People's Congress and the Egbesu Boys, to mention a few. The ethnic militias threatened the security of the nation by unleashing violence on it. They were demanding greater autonomy and self-determination and/or adequate recognition for their peoples and regions. The activities of these militias could hardly be checkmated by the appropriate authorities, because the militias had been instrumental in the successful elections of most of the political office holders. In addition to this fact, "the military were fractured Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict along ethnic, religious, rank, ideological and generational lines which compromised the objectives of operational efficiency, institutional solidarity and stability of the military as an institution."25 It is in light of the above that the states in the federation clamoured for community police. There was thus a conflict between groups seeking regime security as opposed to groups seeking authentic national security for all the citizens in the country. Election is central to any successful democracy; it should not only be free, fair and credible but it should also be seen as such. Electioneering in the Nigerian democracy is, in the words of Robert Dahl, "a struggle between incumbents and the vigor of political challengers".26 There are widespread allegations of election rigging, snatching of ballot boxes and manipulation of election results. The votes of the electorate no longer count political office holders are appointed instead of being elected. Elections are seen as do or die affairs. Abrasive and bellicose campaigns are run on public and privately owned media. Consequently, there is scheming and counter-scheming between the government and the opposition, which obviously leads to teleguided conflict between the rulers and the ruled. This is more pronounced when the rulers do not deliver the dividends of democracy to the ruled. Individuals, families and communities in Nigeria are fast becoming local government. Basic amenities such as power, roads, water and education are the responsibilities of the individuals, families and communities that desire uninterrupted supplies of these amenities, since the best the government can provide is a sporadic service. The economic programmes, especially the privatization programme, were pursued in a most self-serving manner, to the detriment of the collective good. This breeds discontent and consequently conflict in the guise of religion or ethnicity. Recently, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria opened a can of worms when he told members of the National Assembly that 25% or ¼ of the nation's budget is utilized by the honourable members of the assembly. The declaration exposed the supposed genuineness of the members' intentions to promote the welfare of people they were elected to represent. This revelation came at a time when all the government-owned universities in the southern part of the country were shut down for several months as a result of the inability of the government to perform their financial responsibilities to the universities. The actions of the elected representatives are tailored towards widening the horizon of the poverty level in the country, as it clearly demonstrates that there is disequilibrium between the values that Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict define and guide socio-economic relations in the form of positive attitude and behaviour between the rulers and the ruled. In the present democratic dispensation, which dates back to the period of the late Umaru Yar'adua and Goodluck Jonathan, the epistemological condition necessary for democracy to thrive is threatened by the perception of a religious value by a sect known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram has established itself as a terrorist organization in the northern part of Nigeria. The group is averse to Western education and all its ramifications. Christians, law enforcement agents and perceived opponents are killed with impunity. Churches and Christian homes are burnt in the cities of Jos, Maiduguri and Bauchi. To all intents and purposes, the ignorant cannot participate effectively in a democracy. To participate actively and effectively the citizens must be informed. J. Akinpelu27 and some other notable scholars have established an inseparable link between education and democratic governance. The sectarian violence engendered by the Boko Haram group not only undermines present democratic governance but it also has the ability to influence voting patterns along religious lines in the forthcoming general elections. One of the major challenges confronting a majoritarian democracy is the tyranny of the majority. The democratic government in Nigeria is confronted by twin but diametrically opposed challenges the tyranny of the majority and the tyranny of the minorities. What the minorities perceive as cherished values, especially in the areas of economics and politics, differs sharply from the conception of the majority. For instance, the naturally endowed resources in the Niger-Delta (especially crude oil a major source of foreign exchange earning of the country) empowers the minority group from this area to dictate to the Nigerian state their minimum expectations from the resources of the state, as landlord of the national wealth. The inability of the democratic government in Nigeria to accede quickly to the demands for resource control made by this minority group is being greeted with arson, kidnapping and bombing of strategic locations in Nigeria by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta (MEND). It is this scenario that M. Dukor aptly refers to as "the tyranny of the minority over the majority". According to Dukor, In Nigeria today, the minorities, apart from being in paradoxical majority over the majority groups that is, all of them put together is more than the majority groups, are blessed with relevance in the polity This relevance comes from the crude oil in their soil, other natural resources and more often their riverine homes and habitats.In democracies, Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict the minorities stand marginalized if their welfare is not attended to on special or adhoc basis,but these minorities are rather powerful ones capable of telling the state what should be accruing to them as landlords of national wealth. Nature's abundant blessings to the minorities have given them special power which they hold against the democratic majorities who hold the leadership.So as some minorities suffer from the tyranny of the majoritarian democracy, some majorities suffers from the tyranny of minorities, who own the oil, the source of national wealth.28 The minority groups are of the view that they are victims of oppression, exploitation, marginalization and what Joseph Schumpeter refers to as "democratic violence". "Democratic violence is when a majority taken collectively may be regarded as a being, whose opinions and most frequently whose interests are opposed to those of another being, which is styled a minority."29 The minority perceive social injustice and abuse of fundamental rights in the socio-political configuration of the country. This is more so when the majoritarian democracy practiced in Nigeria neglects the interests of the minorities; any form of government that is erected on this principle of neglect surreptitiously harbours conflict. This is the point being made by Giovanni Sartori when he writes that "the will of the majority is entitled to prevail within the limits of the respect for minority rights ... majoritarianism is always limited or constrained ... otherwise it is democracy itself that selfdestructs."30 The above analysis clearly demonstrates that the meaning and approach to national integration, peace and stability is lacking in Nigeria's democracy. This is exemplified by the call for a sovereign national government (SNG), a forum to renegotiate the unity and continuous existence of Nigeria. It is also buttressed by pervasive threats to the security and well-being of the ruled who, rather than enjoy the dividends of democracy, are constantly pummelled by harsh economic and political policies that only favour the rulers. RE-ENACTMENT OF TRADITIONAL THOUGHTS ON GOOD DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE There is an urgent need to complement the democratic practice in Nigeria with the humane nature of traditional thoughts. This does not suggest that democracy as a practice in the West cannot be duplicated in Nigeria; rather, the verbatim duplication cannot help the peculiar multicultural society of the country. What is uppermost in ensuring good governance is a form of Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict government that would facilitate improved living standards and respect for human persons. This is the upshot of the position of Volker Seitz, when he observes that "it is difficult to transfer the western parliamentarian system to Africa. (...) Those things, I believe, are not negotiable, but it doesn't have to be parliamentary democracy as we know it.''31 Nigeria, as well as other African countries, is made up of persons or groups of persons linked together mainly by interpersonal bonds and shared communal values, common interests and goals that encourage cooperation, togetherness, freedom, mutual trust, accountability and other related virtues. These essential attributes of traditional Africa are not evoked by the democratic experiment in the country. Put succinctly, the viable socio-cultural antecedents of Nigeria are not brought to bear to guarantee good governance through democracy. For instance, accountability is cherished and valued in traditional Africa; it "marked the traditional governance. It was a duty done on behalf of the ancestors and the human community"32 which are greatly revered, but it is conspicuously absent in modern governance, especially in Nigeria. The value of accountability constitutes part of the group-mind of traditional Nigerians that must be encouraged to develop and reflect on behaviours of the individual from the family unit to the societal level. Furthermore, the different ethnic groups in Nigeria have a tradition of consensus; a value that tolerates and accords respects to the opinion of diverse people. Consensus presupposes an original position of diversity, which is not at variance with democracy; the problem, however, is that majoritarian democracy in Nigeria places some groups perpetually in the position of minorities. The African society, to which Nigeria belongs, is of the consensual type that does not place any one group of persons consistently in the position of a minority. This lofty value is equally cherished even by modern democracy; it could be harnessed for the political transformation of Nigeria's democracy where emphasis is always on sectional interests. In traditional Africa, and by extension Nigeria, rulers do not arrogate powers to themselves; rather, consultations are widely made and consensus reached. Consensus implies taking into account "individual persons' views and opinions before important decisions are made, the esteem and promotion of mutual tolerance and patience and an attitude of compromise."33 The role of consensus as a principle of social organization is common among the Binis, Igbos, Yoruba and other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. For instance, Sophie Oluwole rightly observes that Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict the mother of the Oba in conjunction with some chiefs are said to constitute a team, the members of which act as advisers, executive members and opposition group members, who may disagree with the Oba and check his excesses34 in Yoruba traditional thought. In the same vein, according to Obi Oguejiofor, the Igbo man views his community in relation to other individuals in the community.35 This also implies that emphasis is not only placed on the "self" but due consideration is accorded the "others" within the community. It is this spirit of "oneness", being one's brother's keeper irrespective of ethnic differences, political status or religious inclination, that is absent in contemporary Nigeria among both the ruled and the rulers. There is an urgent need for the reconciliation of the self with the others; actions of both the ruled and the rulers should be able to pass the acid test of Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative, which says we should "treat humanity never as a means but as an end in itself" and the actions and pronouncements of Nigerian leaders should demonstrate the willingness of universality. The restoration of these lost values from the family unit to the societal level is the antidote to the conflicts that continually undermine democracy in Nigeria. In other words, there should be more than a paradigm for conceptualizing democracy if its dividends are to be reaped; the diversity of cultures in the world is a reason for the possibilities of many democracies. CONCLUSION The paper argues that social political situation underlies most violent coflicts situation in Nigeria. This socio-political situation is a product of differences in values of both individuals or groups, rulers or the ruled who are convinced of the solution to the myriads of problems confronting the Nigerian Nation. The very attempt at foisting their antecdotes down the throats of other groups in the democratic society is met with stiff resistance, hence violence. The introduction of the traditional method of consensus is identified as the missing link in the the actualization of peaceful co-existence among the multicultural groups that makes up the society. This is more so when consensus is not averse to the principles of modern democracy. However, "majority rule, winner take-all, or other forms of zero sum games (that characterized most majoritarian democracy) are not acceptable alternatives to consensus decision-making."36 Consen- Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict sual democracy would help in the prevention of violent-conflicts that characterized the democratic experiment of the Nigerian society Notes 1 Emmanuel. Anungwan, "Ethnicity, Politics and Elections in Nigeria: An overview of current trends." http//www..ethnonel-africa.org/pubs/papeze.htm, 16th/oct 2009 2 Adam Przeworski, "Democracy as a contingent outcome of conflicts." John Elster and Rune Slagstad (eds.) Constitutionalism and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986: 583. 3 Arjun Appadorai, The Substance of Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004: 142. 4 Tade Adediran, "Democracy and the rule of law: History, concepts and contending ideas." A. Ojomo et al. (eds.) Nigerian democracy and the rule of law. Lagos: Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, 1996: 4. 5 Kolawole Owolabi, The Quest for Democracy in Africa: A theoretical exploration: African Studies Monograph. Lagos: Obaroh and Ogbinaka, 1999: 5. 6 See Carl Cohen, Democracy. Athens: University of Georgia, 1971. 7 Abraham Lincoln cited in Olumuyiwa A. Falaiye, "Moralizing democracy in a plural society." The Nigerian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 18, nos. 1 & 2, Lagos: Dmodus, 1999/2000: 43. 8 Francis Offor, "Democracy as an Issue in African Philosophy." Olusegun Oladipo (ed.) Core Issues in African Philosophy. Ibadan: Hope, 2006: 123. 9 Bayo Okunade, "Democracy and Human Rights in the Context of Twenty-first Century Africa." Olusegun Oladipo (ed.) Remarking Africa: Challenges of the Twenty-first Century. Ibadan: Hope, 1998: 13. 10 Kolawole Owolabi, 1999: 7. 11 See Campbell Shittu C. S. Momoh, The Funeral of Democracy in Nigeria. Lagos: African Philosophy Project's Publication, 1994. 12 Terfa K. Anjov, "Democracy and conflicts in Africa. The role of philosophy in the 21st century." Ike Odimegwu Akwa (ed.) Philosophy, Democracy and Conflicts in Africa. Fab, 2007: 235. 13 Frederick. Samuel. Northedge, The International Political System. New York: Faber and Faber, 1976: 299-300. 14 Ikenna Nzimiro, Nigerian Civil War: A Study in Class Conflict. Enugu: Frontline, 1984: 18. 15 Jim Unah, "Difficult Decisions: a Phenomenological Ontology of Crisis Management." Anelecta Husserliana vol. 68, 2000: 237. 16 Adebola Babatunde Ekanola, "Towards an enduring social peace in a violenceridden society. From a culture of peace and non-violence." WAJOPS: West Africa Journal of Philosophical Studies, December, 2005: 2. 17 Lewis Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict. Glencoe: The Free Press, 1956: 8. 18 Bill Dudley, Instability and Political Order: Politics and Crisis in Nigeria. Ibadan: University of Ibadan Press, 1973: 37. Solomon A. LALEYE / Democracy in Conflict Jean Blondel, "Government." Nicollis Mackenzie (ed.) A guide to the social sciences. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1966: 123. Martin Luther King, Where do we go from here: Chaos or community? New York: Harper and Row, 1967: 47. Also in Peter J. Paris, Black Leaders in Conflict. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1978: 99. Peter J. Paris. op. cit., 66. Ghandi was reported to have wept on the eve of Indian independence because they were at war and would never imbibe non-violence. Leo Tolstoy, "The Kingdom of God is within you." Howard P Kainz (ed.) Philosophical Perspectives on Peace. Ohio: University Press, 1987: 178. Robert Fatton Jnr, Predatory rule: state and civil society in Africa. Boulder-Colarado: Lynne Rienner, 1992: 19. Idowu Awopetu, "Democracy and good governance: The Nigerian experience." Public lecture delivered at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, September 11, 2007. published by Adekunle Ajasin University Akure: Kulo, 2007: 36. Eboe Hutchful, "Military Issues in the transition to democracy." Abdoulaye Bathily et al. (eds.) The military and militarism in Africa. Dakar: CODESRIA, 1998: 60. See Robert Dahl, Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971. Joseph Akinpelu, "Democracy and excellence in education." Paper delivered at the 12th Annual Conference of the Philosophy of Education Association of Nigeria, University of Jos, June 2326, 1991. Maduabuchi Dukor, "Minority activism: its rights and wrongs." Maduabuchi Dukor (ed.) Philosophy and Politics: Discourse on values, politics and power in Africa. Lagos: Malthouse Press, 2003: 136. See Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. NewYork: Harper and Row, 1975. Especially chapter xv, on the implication of the unlimited power of the majority. Giovanni Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering. London: Macmillan Press, 1994. 98. Volker Seitz, "Corrupt political elites block development in Africa", http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,4643406,00.html, 11/11/2010. John Ekei, "Governance in traditional Africa. Implications for a nascent modern African polity." Obi Oguejiofor (ed.) Philosophy, Democracy and Responsible Governance in Africa. Enugu: Delta, 2004: 454. Kwame Gyekye cited in Didier Njirayamanda Kaphagani, "Democracy practice in Africa. Some arguments." Quest, vol. 111, no. 2, 1993: 78. Sophie Oluwole, "Democracy in indigenous governance. The Nigerian experience.", Obi Oguejiofor, The influence of Igbo traditional religion on the socio-political character of the Igbo. Nsukka: Fulladu, 1996: 20.
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.