Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Article: Our Participatory Democracy

By Livy-Elcon Emereonye


The fact that we are all alike but not the same confers a lot of differential peculiarities on us and the things we do. This can be an asset or liability, depending on what we are looking at or doing but from which perspective and view. Intention often determines approach; motif affects methodology; relationship can easily affect positions. Result matters; giving room for acceptance or rejection, justification or tolerance for the sake of common goal or otherwise.


Our differences can be used to justify or condemn something - and when we are involved, emotions often run amok, putting reasons to test, sometimes sedating it! The vices we see and condemn in others might suddenly become virtues because we are somehow involved or affected. The position we take on a neutral issue might change if someone we know is an interested party. Our reasoning is subject to our degree of partisanship.

The best way to change a system is from within, and the second best way is to dismantle it - and each of the ways needs active involvement. Therefore get involved. Let your voice be heard. Do the real work. 


Being indifferent is a very wrong way to face issues and handling situations. The middle point points to nowhere.  Take a position, and when you did, make such known. Work into the arena – and change the equation. Some may not like you if you have the gut but you will not be ignored for whatever reason knowing that you can turn the table.


It is not possible to be everything to everyone; it is impossible to satisfy everyone at a time. It pays to be known for something no matter the cost. This way, your opinion would be respected and appreciated. When you are known for what you are, those who value your worth would court it especially at critical times for needed change and impact. Be real; be yourself!


Human beings are inductive and interactive animals that desire the best for themselves with a continuous wish for  improved life, first for the self and their relations and possibly the society, and as such continue to device means to achieve the desired expectations, part of which is governance - a means of organization for actualization of expected outcomes.


In trying to do this and effectively, there is the need for some people to be entrusted with responsibility that would be built on certain criteria especially competence, transparency, trust and accountability. To this effect, an efficient selection mechanism should be in place for every interested member to participate. This is what universal franchise is all about. qualified people should have and exercise the right to vote and be voted for in elections. This is the tenet for participatory democracy.


Democracy has somewhat been re-defined as "the government of the people by the people and for the people," making it the dominant system of government in the world today even with some of its shortcomings depending on what is being practiced, where, why and by who.


Good as democracy may sound, are most "democracies" truly the government of the people by the people and for the people? A closer look may not answer this question in affirmative as most of what we call democracy today are but a cabalistic stranglehold of associations, organizations, states by a selected few that lord it over others - the majority - through a manipulative but often criminal and heartless means. Anyway, rigging is part of an election that demands active participation and most politicians indulge into it, and the smart one who out-rigs other(s) will win. Because in most elections, the end justifies the means, it pays to win an election possibly by any means and let the opponent be going to court.


What is Participatory Democracy, and how participatory can a democracy be?


"Participatory Democracy is all about individual participation by citizens in political decisions and policies that affect their lives, especially directly rather than through elected representatives." It is “a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. However, participatory democracy tends to advocate more involved forms of citizen participation and greater political representation than traditional representative democracy."


In other words, Participatory Democracy is a model of democracy in which citizens have the power to decide directly on policy and politicians are responsible for implementing those policy decisions but how possible is this? Has Participatory Democracy been truly practiced in any state?


There is strength in unity that comes from active involvement in a representative democracy which at its best is a pseudo participatory democracy. It is by opening up the space and allowing people to express themselves in civilized manners without let or hindrance that more meaningful and impactful ideas for development can come.


If we are sincere about our resolve to push for a better society, we must also resolve to allow and tolerate divergent views and with such stand a good chance of bringing about a new social order for our collective interest.


No one will build the society we want but us. It is only us that will transform the world to suit our desires and expectations. So if we pay lip service, and avoid the real work of positive transformation, to the issue of empowerment and nation building, we shall continue to struggle with the daily realities of living in a dysfunctional society with its harsh consequences.


The choice is ours to make - and the earlier, the better. It is either we sacrifice a little of our time, energy and resources today, for a better tomorrow or continue to manage and endure the way we have been doing, waiting for a liberator to come from Jupiter. Get actively involved to change the narratives or sit on the fence and continue to complain.


No one with power will give it up easily even at expiration of the tenure. There are often plans for continuity either by proxy or outright tenure elongation done by tampering with the constitution or other deceptive means especially where the people are not properly informed or bullied into submission!

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