Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 definition of democracy as “government of the people by the people for the people” has, remained a foundational framework for governance and a blueprint that every polity strives to exemplify in its core values and sustaining its principles. Devoid of alterations, the concept of open (masses-oriented) democracy has truly elevated several nations successes, as demonstrated by the unprecedented dividends of democracy that their citizens enjoy.
On the other hand, in some climes where democracy has been constantly abused for the purpose of perpetrating self-aggrandisement, one cannot help but feel sorry for the citizens in countries where the dividends of representative governance are only enjoyed by the representatives in government. Such systems are muddled with impunity in decision-making and a closed-door system of governance that does not appeal to the engagement and participation of regular citizens. Expectedly, such climes usually amount to little positive effects on the lives of the governed, leading to a situation where Abraham’s theory of democracy becomes questionable.
To avoid such abuse democracy, nations like Nigeria that are at the verge of such occurrences are under urgent need to devise systems that open up governance the institutions and practices of governance to the populace. The recent reformations introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Nigerian socio-political system are quite impressive, however, the role of the parliament in the restoration of an efficient democracy can never be undermined. As a matter of fact, huge responsibilities are placed on the legislative branch of government – as the lawmaking arm – to take the lead in ensuring the transparency and accountability of governance.
Considering the escalating calls for more accessible and open legislative practices, the proposal of the Senate President of the 8th National Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki is a noteworthy stride in the right direction as it pushes for modern technologies to be deployed in both the Nigerian upper and lower legislative chambers. A the goals of any parliament in the 21st century can be better achieved in an ICT-compliant fashion that eliminates many of the restrictions of the past, Nigeria stands to eliminate many of the practices that gave birth to its previous culture of legislative impunity.
Furthermore, this development – the path to launch e-Parliament procedures in the legislature – is also timely as it meets the calls for #OpenNass that many social media activists and Twitter warriors have campaigned for. Such procedures will be beneficial in the short, medium and long run as they are capable of providing numerous opportunities, like:
- Bringing close the relationship gap between the citizens and the parliament, by ensuring civic communication, and effective engagement with citizens.
- Hastening the realisation of openness, transparency, and accountability in the legislative chamber.
- Ensuring better and safer management of parliamentary documentation.
- Creating official recognition for the vital contributions of the citizens to the parliamentary debates and legislative matters.
- Most importantly, giving back a life to the theory of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy –“government of the people by the people for the people”
As Nigeria forges ahead in this new era of ‘change’, revolutionary thinking, and outside-the-box practices are needed to ensure that our problems as a nation are solved in the best possible manner. As it stands, the Senate President, having being the first to call for e-Parliament, has demonstrated that truly, he is ready to take some of our delicate and bullish predicaments by the horn, in the attainment of a New Nigeria that works to the benefit of all.
By Akorede Shakir