Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Sustaining Nigeria's Democracy: Public Libraries as an Indispensable Instrument in Anambra State

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Sustaining Nigeria's Democracy: Public Libraries as an Indispensable Instrument in Anambra State

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The etymology of the word "Democracy" comes from Greek words "demos" meaning "people" and "kratos" meaning "power". In Greece the people met in one place to make laws for their community but today because people can no longer gather like that, they practice representative democracy where members of the society are elected to represent the society in the council, legislative or parliament in decision making and legal issues. Democracy implies that the citizens must participate in governance through their freely elected representatives and promotion of basic rights of citizens (Omotala, 2009). This form of governance by elected representatives is referred to as Democratic Republic or Republican government (Jemo: 2008), Democracy is a global phenomena which is practiced in various countries of the world. Jega (2006) as cited by Mbah (2007) indicated the following constituent elements of a liberal democratic tradition:

* Representation: "freedom to choose". People choosing their representatives through periodic "free and fair" elections.

* Participation: getting involved. "People being involved in choosing representatives and in determining their affairs"

* Responsive and representative/accountable governance: delivery of services that efficiently and effectively satisfy the needs and expectations of the people; which maximize pleasure and minimize pains to a greater number of people.

* Equality before the law; rule of law, fairness and justice.

* Transparency and accountability in public conduct.

He categorically maintained that the level of Democracy of a political system was dependent on the extent to which it allowed the freedoms to exist. Eliagwu (2004:20) as cited in Mbah (2007: 152) agrees with him on these basic features of a democracy while Guaba (2003:425) as quoted in Mbah (2007:153) explained that for democracy to be sustained certain principles, mechanisms and institutions must be maintained. They include government by consent, public accountability, majority rule, recognition of minority rights and constitutional government. Democracy is a government in which policies and actions are to a larger extent determined by the general will and popular majority. The beauty of democracy is made apparent in the observance of the rule of law. Today, democracy which is a global phenomenon has become the yardstick for measuring good governance in the various geographical locations/countries including Nigeria and other African countries. In fact, the Western democracies, the USA, the World Bank have insisted that one of the conditions for obtaining assistance and aid for Africa is the level of application of democratic principles and ideals. According to Nnoli (2003) Democracy as a form of government entails the freedom of the individual in many respects-political freedom, equality among citizens, justice in the relations between the people and the government and the participation of the people in choosing those in government. Stressing this "freedom" further Jemo (2008) states that citizens in an ideal democracy are entitled to equal protection of their persons, possessions and rights, equal rights of political participation; freedom from undue interference and domination by government. Freedom within the ambit of the law to belief/views, to expression, of association, to work and live where they choose, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, of worship/religion. Political freedom and participation implies that they will be free to choose their representative (electoral choice) in a process characterized by free and fair elections and the electorate can question government decisions through their elected representatives (rights) in parliament without fear of intimidation. Basic features of democracy could be summed up as: there must be free and fare elections, recognition of majority rule and minority rights, existence of political parties, constitutional government ( rule of law ), and participation of private organizations without government interference. …

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