Our Participatory Democracy By Livy-Elcon Emereonye

The fact that we are all alike butnot the same confers a lot of differential peculiarities on us and the thingswe do. This can be an asset or liability, depending on what we are looking ator doing but from which perspective and view. Intention often determinesapproach; motif affects methodology; relationship can easily affect positions. Result matters; giving room for acceptanceor rejection, justification or tolerance for the sake of common goal orotherwise.

Our differences can be used tojustify or condemn something – and when we are involved, emotions often runamok, putting reasons to test, sometimes sedating it! The vices we see and condemn in others mightsuddenly become virtues because we are somehow involved or affected. The position we take on aneutral issue might change if someone we know is an interested party. Ourreasoning is subject to our degree of partisanship.

The best way to change a system isfrom within, and the second best way is to dismantle it – and each of the waysneeds active involvement. Therefore get involved. Let your voice be heard. Do thereal work. 

Being indifferent is a very wrongway to face issues and handling situations. The middle point points tonowhere.  Take a position, and when youdid, 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 everythingto everyone; it is impossible to satisfy everyone at a time. It pays to beknown for something no matter the cost. This way, your opinion would berespected and appreciated. When you are known for what you are, those who valueyour worth would court it especially at critical times for needed change andimpact. Be real; be yourself!

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Human beings are inductive andinteractive animals that desire the best for themselves with a continuous wishfor  improved life, first for the self and their relations and possibly the society, and assuch continue to device means to achieve the desired expectations, part ofwhich is governance – a means of organization for actualization of expectedoutcomes.

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

Democracy has somewhat beenre-defined as “the government of the people by the people and for thepeople,” making it the dominant system of government in the world todayeven with some of its shortcomings depending on what is being practiced, where, why and by who.

Good as democracy may sound, aremost “democracies” truly the government of the people by the peopleand for the people? A closer look may not answer this question in affirmativeas most of what we call democracy today are but a cabalistic strangle hold of associations, organizations, states by a selected few that lordit over others – the majority – through a manipulative but often criminal andheartless means. Anyway, rigging is part of an election that demands activeparticipation and most politicians indulge into it, and the smart one who out-rigsother(s) will win. Because in most elections, the end justifies the means, it paysto win an election possibly by any means and let the opponent be going to court.

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What is Participatory Democracy, andhow participatory can a democracy be?

“Participatory Democracy is allabout individual participation by citizens in political decisions and policiesthat affect their lives, especially directly rather than through electedrepresentatives.” It is “a process emphasizing the broad participation ofconstituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymologicalroots of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) imply that the people are in powerand thus that all democracies are participatory. However, participatorydemocracy tends to advocate more involved forms of citizen participation andgreater political representation than traditional representativedemocracy.”

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

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

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

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

The choice is ours to make – and theearlier, the better. It is either we sacrifice a little of our time, energy andresources today, for a better tomorrow or continue to manage and endure the waywe have been doing, waiting for a liberator to come from Jupiter. Get activelyinvolved 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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