The Group of 7 rich countries and advanced industrial economies that recently met in the United Kingdom are also foremost liberal democracies. These countries are the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.
As an outreach to countries of similar liberal democratic values, the G7 invited Australia, South Korea, India and South Africa to the meeting at Carbis bay of the British Southwest city of Cornwall.
If Nigeria's political elite could do a little of imaginative introspection , it should be a source of concern that at a time they were drenched in noise about democracy and even instituted national public holiday for it, a conclave of advanced liberal democracies did not only take notice, but to make a point, that ignoring the feisty rumblings of democracy's official celebration in Nigeria was deliberate, they dutifully invited South Africa, Nigeria's perpetual rival for Africa's spot on the international stage, to the meeting. The G7 is not the only notable international forum that Nigeria has been ignored.
In the early 2000, following emergence of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) later BRICS, with an addition of South Africa, as emerging economies, there was a spotlight of another hopeful emerging economies. Nigeria, hopefully was among the group known as MINT-Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.
Though, this group was not formalised like the BRICS, but they along with the BRICS countries and the top industrialised nations and other emerging economies coalesced to form the Group of 20 world brightest and respectable economies and nations. Among the MINT hopeful countries, only Nigeria dropped off from joining the global club of top performing economies with internal predictable and considerable stable political order.
The G20 are influential in setting the rules of the global economy and Nigeria is no where around the important platform to contribute in the global rules of economic intercourse.
Nigeria's political elite have made the country look big for nothing as their narcissitic political chicanery continue to chisel away the key fundamentals of a democratic and socially-inclusive political order, robbing the country the international prestige it rightfully deserves
Even the more than the 20-year-old Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, which alternates its three-yearly ministerial conference and head of state summits between China and Africa, Nigeria has been bypassed. Major countries in Africa have played host to the forum, except Nigeria.
When the meeting was held in East Africa, Ethiopia, as the key power in the region, hosted; when it was the turn of Northern and Southern African sub-regions, Egypt and South Africa, respectively, hosted the forum. The 8th Ministerial Conference is scheduled to hold in the later part of this year, the first of the Forum in West Africa, and will be held in Dakar, Senegal.
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Nigeria's political elite have made the country look big for nothing as their narcissitic political brinkmanship and chicanery continue to chisel away the key fundamentals and essentials of a democratic and socially-inclusive political order, robbing the country the international prestige it rightfully deserves.
The world knows that only lip service is paid to basic functional tenet of democratic process. The impunity and avarice of the elite for primitive accumulation trump all considerations of open and transparent process. The loud noise of democratic triumphalism made in the open is underwritten by the dark alley of conspiratorial transactions in which the commonwealth of the country is routinely vandalised for the pleasure of the hedonistic instincts of the insensitive clique and cabals that dot the political landscape.
Despite the existence of political parties as a framework for broad aggregation and articulation of public interests in the open public space, the political elites operate and function in pockets of cliques and factions. Democracy has become increasingly a charade and hidebound, under which the worst form of social exclusion of the majority of Nigerians are practised.
Besides the traditional international organisations such as the United Nations, Africa Union, Commonwealth of Nations, ECOWAS, Nigeria has been largely absent in many of the contemporary international institutions and several of its outreaches that focus on contemporary issues of emerging global economic and financial structures and rules.
Since the return of civil rule in 1999, the country punches far below its weight in comparison to strategic endowment of human capital and material resources. Because of the nature of the opaque political process in Nigeria's democracy largely defined by clandestine trade-offs rather than open, transparent process underwritten by rules and procedure, the country has not enjoyed the international prestige it naturally deserves.
Key institutions of the state and supporting public bureaucracy are riddled with debilitating cronyism and therefore incredibly low in service delivery.
It is hard for the world to understand how a key crude oil producing country do not have a functioning refinery and how the turn-around maintenance of the existing old ones became a nestle of open corruption.
It confounds the rest of the world that more than two decades of supposedly elected, accountable and responsible government, the output of energy or electricity is far below what is generated to power some international airports of several countries and yet billions upon billions naira have been pumped into the sector.
The abuse of public office by elected officials in creating phantom positions to accommodate cronies and frit away public funds to maintain ludicrous opulence is typical affront on democratic accountability. The world is aware of the debilitating and crushing poverty that exists among majority of Nigerians and the revolts of the largely excluded youths resulting in unending insurgency, banditry kidnapping and even campaign of secession.
The political class routinely punch holes in the national treasury through massive expansion of governance without corresponding output in terms of service delivery. Nigeria has unique notoriety of the most expansive and expensive governance structures and institutions, but Nigerians are among the least recipients of any dividends of diligent governance. Under the system of liberal democracy in Nigeria, its key pillar of periodic elections is the equivalent of periodic war-fare.
Parties function like Mafia organisations, especially during elections and extant rules are trampled without consequences. Naturally, a democratic process, even flawed ones, bring state officials closer to the domain of accountability and this in turn energises public enthusiasm which keys into a shared vision of progress and development even, at a modest pace. In the case of Nigeria, no such social compact exist and the disconnect between the formalistic of democracy and democratic practice has widened to irreparable gulf.
Appointments into public offices and even of strategic ones that require a high degree of competence are routinely doled out for patronage. As a rule, the integrity and credibility of institutions of the state in Nigeria are under routine assault by battery of abuses that make them increasingly hollow by the political elites who define their power only in the context of being above the law, including rudimentary traffic rules.
As the world largely knows, that beyond lip service, democracy in Nigeria, at least in the past 21 years, is in chains.
*Onunaiju is a research director of an Abuja-based Think-Tank.