"You cannot grow democracy that does not have opposing points of view! People must be allowed to organise political organisations that argue, that shout, that fight with each other not in the battle field but in the field of ideas. When a ruling party thinks there is no need for the other party's view, then you are already out of democracy and back into tyranny". - Colin Powell. Abuja, Nigeria.

This is inspired by a deep concern over Nigeria's failure to deepen or institutionalize democracy. The discourse has the main objective of highlighting the rights of the electorate and the limit of the powers of elected officers. It relies on the premised assumption that, when the people know their rights and act on them, the revolution is already alive. According to Voltaire, the 17th century French enlightenment writer, "So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men."

We have failed to understand democracy, for apparent reasons tied to our antecedents as a society. First, we had been ruled by monarchs – Obas, Igwes, Emirs etc. - who were lords. They owned the land, owned everything and everyone in the land, and people were at the mercy of their whims. A king could take over one's wife, or any other possession from one at will. People were not allowed to question the legitimacy or the authority of the king, and if they did, the penalty could be as severe as death. Then we came under the colonialists whose words were laws. They never needed to consult with us before ruling us. We were also under the military regime for most part of our national life as an independent nation. Under the military, particularly, our rulers enjoyed absolute power and consequently re-conditioned our national culture to militarism and undue regimentation.

Incidentally, having been subjected for too long to authoritarian monarchs and dictatorial military rule, it is yet to be acknowledged that, we are under a new order. In 1999, the same old military dictators who had seized power for all but four years between 1966-1999, only changed their military regalia for civilian ‘Kaftan and Agbada,' pretending to be democratic leaders. It is not out of place to expect them to pretend not to understand democracy and democratic values in the real sense; it is however improper for us to allow ourselves to be robbed of our inalienable rights, unchallenged. Like it has severally been alluded to, right is not what someone gives you but what no one can take away from you. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and never will. We are to let them know that a democracy that cannot serve the electorate can never save the elected.

Our democracy will not work unless we know true democracy and keep ourselves informed. George Orwell, the famed author of ‘Animal Farm' once said: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Now is the time for all good people of our great nation to come to the aid of our nascent democracy. Education is all we need for the revolution.

What is Democracy?

Democracy is the most bastardised of all political terms in the modern world. It is often used by most governments, including the most obvious of tyrannies to create the impression of a ‘participatory' or ‘representative' government. Although most governments are democratic in principle, only a few come close in practice.

There is no universally acceptable definition of democracy. No matter how it is defined, some key elements cannot be excluded. Democracy guarantees equal access for all to the process of governance, that is, ensuring the voting rights of those eligible in choosing their leaders or be chosen as a leader. Democracy is mostly defined as government of the people by the people and for the people. In other words, it is a form of government in which the people determine who should hold power and how power should be used.

In a democracy, the right to govern is vested in the citizens at all levels, and is thus exercised directly or indirectly through a majority rule. This is usually done through competitive elections that are essentially expected to be free and fair, in which one man has one vote and every vote counts. In addition, freedoms of political expression, of speech and importantly, of the press are essential so that citizens are informed and are able to vote in their best interests. While the majority rules in a functioning democracy, the rights of the minority stands protected.

Democracy must guarantee the declaration in Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." In essence, the fundamental human rights must be guaranteed within the limit of the law. These are the basic rights and freedoms which form the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world to which all humans are entitled. These include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to food, work, and the right to quality education.

Democracy is more than simply "one-man, one-vote." In its truest nature, it takes into cognizance that the general outlook on life, the sense of identity, and the interests of the individuals acting in cooperation are essential for a community and a nation to be formed. This sense of sameness allows a political consensus to be maintained. Those who have been out-voted by the majority will still uphold a sense belonging as part of the overall electorate in order to agree to and drive the process of a majority decision. Where a consensus is lacking, the out-voted will feel a sense of oppression and "one-man, one-vote democracy" will become the tyranny of the majority, which invariably becomes nothing more than a gang rule where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine percent.

A functional democracy has to ensure separation of powers with the attendant checks and balances, to forestall abuse. Although democracy is synonymous with a political state, its principle can also be replicated or applicable to private organisations, associations and such groups as trade unions.

Forms of Democracy

Democracy comes in different forms, but this discourse limits the focus to: direct, representative and liberal or constitutional democracies.

Direct Democracy: This is a political system where the citizens participate in the decision-making personally, contrary to relying on representatives. This belief is based on the right of every citizen over a certain age to attend political meetings, vote on the issues being discussed at such meetings and indeed accepting the majority decision that may arise should such a vote lead to the passing of a law, which one as an individual did not support.

Part of this belief also, is the right of everyone to hold political office if he/she chooses to do so. In this system, everyone has the right to actively participate regardless of religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, physical well-being, etc. Only those who have specifically gone against society are excluded from direct democracy. For example, those in prison have offended the society in some ways and therefore, their democratic rights are suspended for the duration of their time in prison. Once released and having ‘learnt a lesson,' their democratic rights are again restored.

Contemporarily, this form of government is rarely practised except in some small societies, usually city-states and some town meetings. However, some larger societies' use of referenda or referendums is akin to direct democracy. In Switzerland for instance, about five million voters make decisions through national referenda and initiatives two to four times a year.

Representative Democracy: As opposed to direct democracy, representative democracy is a system where citizens within a country elect representatives to act on their interests, but not as their proxies. The people thereby hand over the responsibility of decision and law making to someone else who wishes to be in that position, thus, excluding themselves from the process of decision making. Each elected individual represents an area called a constituency. If his/her performance is satisfactory, he/she can be re-elected by that constituency at the next election to serve another term.

Representatives are however responsible to their electorate. In this way, they are held accountable to them (electorate). If they fail to perform, they can be removed by the people of their constituency. In this way, the people exercise control over their representatives. If an elected representative's performance is dissatisfying, he/she may be recalled by his/her constituency.

A representative is usually expected to have a constituency office where the people can voice their opinions on different issues, since they play no direct part in the mechanism of decision making.

There is no necessity for individual liberties to be respected in a representative democracy. A representative democracy that emphasises individual liberties is called a liberal or constitutional democracy. One that does not is an illiberal democracy.

Liberal Democracy: Nigeria, as well as being a representative democracy, is also a liberal democracy. As indicated earlier, a liberal democracy is a form of representative democracy where elected representatives who hold the power of decision are moderated by a constitution that emphasises protecting individual liberties and the rights of minorities in the society, such as freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, the right to private property and privacy (within the confines of the law), as well as equality before the law and due process under the rule of law, and many more.

Jerome Nathanson noted that, "the price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people's differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience." A democracy like ours is usually expected to have a universal suffrage, granting all adult citizens the right to vote regardless of tribe, gender or property ownership. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive with political pluralism, which is usually defined as the presence of multiple and distinct political parties. This creates an institutional check on the system, making the electorate supreme by virtue of the power to choose and organise.

Separation of power is another key character of liberal democracy whereby the government is limited in its impact on the citizens, and should not enjoy arbitrary power. The government is also expected to remove obstacles limiting the well-being of the citizenry without any exclusion of any group. Usually, the government's involvement in the economy of a country should be minimal, limited mostly to creating the necessary enabling environment through policy and legislation. In other words the government is a buffer, and remains to deal with problems when they arise.

The Nigerian Experience

Having introduced democracy, I would like to assess the Nigerian experience using the following pointers:

Election: As stated earlier, a key element of democracy is guaranteeing the voting rights of the citizenry through a free and fair election where every vote counts. This feature of democracy still seems to be a mirage to us, considering that the polls which brought President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to power were marred with irregularities, intimidation and rigging, of which the president himself duly acknowledged. The chaotic re-run of the governorship elections in Ekiti State is instructive as a signpost that the electoral system is far from improved - sadly suggesting that the 2011 presidential polls could be just as messy as the last if we do not act now.

All eligible citizens should have equal access to voting and being voted for from the party levels to the main inter-party election. The current campaign being spearheaded by the Senate President David Mark, that the PDP senators should have automatic return tickets is a direct breach of democratic principle - denying others the access to contest for the senate. The same call is also being made by first term governors of the same party.

Human Rights: Our human rights records remain poor and government officials at all levels continue to commit serious abuse of office. There are extra judicial killings as recently being alleged by Amnesty International (Boko Haram example) and use of excessive force by security forces; arbitrary arrests and persistent threats to press freedom; prolonged pre-trial detention; political corruption and executive influence on the judiciary as being alleged in Ibori's case and other cases involving political heavyweights; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners, detainees and suspects; harsh and life threatening prison conditions; vigilante killings; infringement of privacy rights; and the abridgement of the rights of citizens to initiate a change in government.

Rule of Law

This is a term we often hear from our government without them taking time to explain the meaning to us. The government has often claimed to make rule of law and due process its core points of governance. How absurd, given our experiences over the years.

Rule of law or supremacy of the law is a featured characteristic of a constitutional democracy like ours, which in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. This means that, the law is the King that rules. It is a general legal saying according to which decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws, without the use of discretion in their application or any act of will.

The most important application of the rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process. The principle is intended to safeguard against arbitrary governance, whether by a totalitarian or a democratic leader. Thus, the rule of law is hostile both to dictatorship and anarchy.

In a society where it functions, the rights of individuals are determined by legal rules and not the arbitrary behaviour of authorities. There can be no punishment unless a court decides there has been a breach of law. Everyone, regardless of his/her position in society, is subject to the law in fairness and with no favour. Another critical feature of the rule of law is that, individual liberties depend on it. Its success depends on the role of impartiality of judges. It also depends on ‘Prerogative Orders' whereby a case is taken up from an inferior court to a superior one, to ensure justice is done. It also prohibits an inferior court from hearing a case it does not have the power to try, and gives ‘mandamus' orders to enforce an inferior court to carry out its duties.

Rule of law in Nigeria

According to H.L Mencken, "a good politician under democracy is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar." Yes! It is true that there is no perfect democracy and no perfect rule of law, but how much democratic is our democracy and how much do we adhere to the principles of the rule of law?

Rule of law is more often pronounced than acted or adhered to, and the more our government says it, the less it seems to demonstrate the understanding of it. The more the government preaches and claims adherence to it, the more events prove it is farther from it. There is no rule of law where there is selective justice, where the government chooses which law to obey and which to disobey; where there are human rights abuses; where there is no care for human life and happiness; where there is failure of budget implementation (note that a budget is an enacted law); where governors and other representatives cross to other parties without relinquishing their offices; where the government appropriates excess crude account without any constitutional provision for it; where votes do not count, where elections are not free and fair and where some are above the law. Even though democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions, it guarantees equality of opportunities in the face of rule of law.

Where are the twelve Northern states governors who adopted the Shari'a penal code - Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara? They chose this code that provides such harsh sentences as amputation, lashing and stoning for alcohol consumption, theft, and infidelity. By now, they should all be amputees. While they ensured penalties for petty thieves, nearly ALL of them ended up stealing billions from the State coffers. Should some be above the law? That spells Animal Farm!

Rephrasing the word of Howard Winters, a developing democracy should be a government which gradually increases the number of people included in the term 'we' or 'us' and at the same time decreases those labelled as 'you' or 'them,' until that category has no one left in it. It should carry people along!

Nigerians should know that there can be no punishment unless a court decides that there has been a breach of the law. That is, one is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. Every individual has the right to be tried and proclaimed innocent or guilty only by a court of law. The police or any other force has no right to manhandle, torture or beat anyone, neither do they have the right to kill, except if their lives are in danger.

People's fundamental rights ought to be protected under this dispensation. Remember again that right is not what anyone can give you, but what no one can take away from you. The central tenets of democracy are equality and freedom.

Political Parties

A political party is an organised political group formed with the intention of putting forward candidates to be elected for government. It seeks to attain and maintain political power by participating in electoral campaigns. A party is expected to be based on ideology and specific visions and goals, hence membership should be of people whose political beliefs and interests are geared towards the same ideological direction and principles. Democracy starts at party level where every member is expected to have equal access to political office through primary elections at the party level. In a democratic election, it is often allowed that different political parties with disparate interests can form a coalition in order to gain power.

In Nigeria today, parties are not often formed on ideological lines, but on selfish and arbitrary interests which are mostly temporary. Little wonder we have 54 registered parties, of which most are without any clear vision.

We all have political rights that include freedom of political association. This is contrary to the belief in the first and second republics where people from certain zones were erroneously expected to belong to certain political parties, and if they did otherwise, there were stigmatised as rebels, infidels and public enemies. This even degenerated into burning of houses and other belongings of the so called ‘infidels' and in extreme cases, killing.

EVERYONE IS FREE TO BE A MEMBER OF ANY REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTY OF CHOICE. In some cases, members of the same family can be divergent politically.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the action movie icon turned Republican ‘governator' (a combination of Governor and the Terminator, one of his films roles) of California State has a wife who is not only a descendant of the famous democrat family of the Kennedys, but openly a member of the Democratic Party. She was even a top contender in the race to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate before the latter's appointment as the Secretary of States. Why can't we tolerate opposing political views and membership?

"You cannot grow democracy that does not have opposing points of view! People must be allowed to organise political organisations that argue, that shout, that fight with each other not in the battle field but in the field of ideas. When a ruling party thinks there is no need for the other party's view, then you are already out of democracy and back into tyranny". (Colin Powell. Abuja, Nigeria).

A member of a political party is free to leave and join another party, but this is not a common scene in a true democracy because people do not often change in principles and ideologies. However, such is commonplace in our system as most politicians are just self-seeking. In a case where a public officer cross-carpets to another party, the Nigerian constitution makes it mandatory for such office holder to relinquish the office won on the platform of the former political party, except when the old party has evidently disintegrated. This is a provision of the constitution that is often breached mostly when it favours the ruling PDP as evident in the recent crossing of Yuguda, Ohakim and some National Assembly members who ate their cakes and still had them.

What an irony! The President and the Attorney General of the nation who are supposed to be the chief custodians and enforcers of our constitution to which they swore to protect, are the chief abusers as they openly embrace this unconstitutional moves. Are they ignorant or do they think we are? Constitutionally, those who decamped have technically lost their offices! This was established by the Supreme Court in its ruling that enthroned Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the governor of River State.

All good meaning Nigerians should join political parties of their choices in order to start making changes right from the grassroots. The problem is not with the parties but with the members. We should join with the intentions to be agents of change, to make a difference and to serve in any capacity possible. It is just ridiculous that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy doing other things or building other nations! We have left the nation for too long in the hands of middle-of-the-road politicians and marauders whose roadside politics is all about personal interest, looting and no result. If good people ignore politics, bad people will continue to take advantage (as we have now) to make bad laws, bad budgets, bad government and bad system for good people.

Separation of Powers

Separation of Powers is a key characteristic of a liberal democracy, whereby the government has an inherent control system to ensure that no arm of it is able to abuse power. Under this model, the government is divided into three branches with separate and independent powers, as well as pre-defined areas of responsibility.

This political arrangement creates a division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of the government among separate and independent bodies. Such separation limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government, since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.

The Separation of Powers creates checks and balances, which allows for a system-based regulation that allows one branch to checkmate another. This is manifested in the power of the Legislature to alter the composition and jurisdiction of the federal courts, or the judiciary ruling that a law is unconstitutional.

Separation of Powers in Nigeria

Unfortunately, the Judiciary and the Legislative arm cannot be said to be independent of the Executive in the Nigerian system. Events have shown that the executive mostly wields overwhelming influence on the other arms of the government. As long as the executive determines the welfare packages of the other arms of government, this trend will continue to be so.

Legislative

This is an arm of government that is solely responsible for law making. Legislatures may be unicameral or bicameral. At the federal level in Nigeria, we have a bicameral legislature (the Senate and the House of Representatives), while at the state levels; we have the unicameral legislature (the State Assemblies). Their powers include writing and passing laws, enacting taxes, authorising borrowing, declaring wars, establishing government's budgets, confirming executive appointments, ratifying treaties, investigating the executive branch, impeaching and removing from office, members of the Executive and Judiciary, in addition to redressing constituents' grievances. Members are elected directly from constituencies representing an entire population.

In a Presidential system like ours, the Executive and Legislative branches are clearly separated; but in the Parliamentary system, members of the Executive branch are chosen from the legislative membership.

The Legislature in Nigeria

Section 4 of the Nigerian constitution states as follows:

4. (1) The Legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

(2) The National Assembly shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

(3) The power of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List shall, save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, be to the exclusion of the Houses of Assembly of States.

(4) In addition and without prejudice to the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section, the National Assembly shall have power to make laws with respect to the following matters, that is to say:-

(a) Any matter in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and

(b) Any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(5) If any Law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other Law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

(6) The Legislative powers of a State of the Federation shall be vested in the House of Assembly of the State.

(7) The House of Assembly of a State shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say:-

(a) Any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

(b) any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and

(c) Any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(8) Save as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the exercise of Legislative powers by the National Assembly or by a House of Assembly shall be subject to the jurisdiction of courts of law and of judicial tribunals established by law, and accordingly, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not enact any law, that ousts or purports to oust the jurisdiction of a court of law or of a judicial tribunal established by law.

(9) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the National Assembly or a House of Assembly shall not, in relation to any criminal offence whatsoever, have power to make any law which shall have retrospective effect.

Executive

This is a branch of government charged with executing or carrying out the laws and appointing officials, formulating and instituting foreign policies, and providing diplomatic representation. The Executive is vested with the power to spend funds allocated for certain purposes, as in the budget, and may veto laws and grant pardon to convicted criminals. This arm of government wages war at the direction of the legislative because it peculiarly derives its instrumentality from it. The Executive is usually empowered to make decrees or declaration such as declaring a state of emergency or promulgating lawful regulations and executive orders. In an ideal situation, a system of checks and balances keeps the powers of the Executive more or less equal to that of the Judiciary and the Legislature.

The Executive power is vested on the President to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the laws of the country. The principal responsibility of the President is to ensure that laws made Legislative arm are faithfully executed. The Constitution does not require the President to personally enforce the law; rather, officers subordinate to the President may be appointed to perform such duties. The President's responsibility is to execute whatever instructions he is given by the law making arm.

As a check and balance, the President can exercise a check over the Legislature through his power to veto bills; but legislators may override any veto by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House of Representatives. When the two houses cannot agree on a date for adjournment, the President may settle the dispute. Either House or both may be called into an emergency session by the President.

The President, as noted above, appoints judges with the Senate's consent. He also has the power to issue pardons and reprieves or amnesties as we have it in the Niger Delta. Such pardons are not subject to approval by either the House of Representatives or the Senate, or even by the recipient.

The President is the civilian Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. However, it is the Legislature that has the power to raise, fund and maintain the armed forces, and to prescribe the laws and regulations under which the armed forces operate. The legislature also has the sole power to declare war, and requires that all Generals appointed by the President be confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate before they can assume their offices.

The Executive in Nigeria

Section 5 of the Nigerian Constitution states as follows:

5. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation:

(a) Shall be vested in the President and may subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation; and

(b) Shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly and to all matters with respect to which the National Assembly has, for the time being, power to make laws.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of a State:

(a) Shall be vested in the Governor of that State and may, subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any Law made by a House of Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Deputy Governor and Commissioners of the Government of that State or officers in the public service of the State; and

(b) Shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, all laws made by the House of Assembly of the State and to all matters with respect to which the House of Assembly has for the time being power to make laws.

(3) The executive powers vested in a State under subsection (2) of this section shall be so exercised as not to:-

(a) Impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive powers of the Federation;

(b) Endanger any asset or investment of the Government of the Federation in that State; or

(c) Endanger the continuance of a Federal Government in Nigeria.

(4) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section:-

(a) The President shall not declare a state of war between the Federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both Houses of the National Assembly, sitting in a joint session; and

(b) Except with the prior approval of the Senate, no member of the armed forces of the Federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.

(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (4) of this section, the President, in consultation with the National Defence Council, may deploy members of the armed forces of the Federation on a limited combat duty outside Nigeria if he is satisfied that the national security is under imminent threat or danger:

Provided that the President shall, within seven days of actual combat engagement, seek the consent of the Senate and the Senate shall thereafter give or refuse the said consent within 14 days.

Judiciary

This is the branch of government tasked with the authoritative adjudication of controversies over the application of laws in specific situations. This power to decide cases and controversies is vested in the Supreme Court and lower courts established by the laws made by the legislature. The judges are appointed by the Executive with the approval of the Legislature, and can be removed by the legislature through impeachment proceedings. In the course of its duty and power, the Judiciary does the following:

· Determines which laws the legislature intends to apply to any given case

· Determines whether a law is unconstitutional

· Determines how the legislature applies the law to disputes

· Determines how laws should be interpreted to assure uniform policies in a top-down fashion via the appeals process, but gives discretion in individual cases to low-level judges. (The amount of discretion depends upon the standard of review, determined by the type of case in question).

· It also polices its own members

As a check and balance, Supreme Court decisions are laws binding across the nation. The power to review the constitutionality of laws may be limited by the Legislature, which has the power to set the jurisdiction of the courts. The only constitutional limit on the legislature's power to set the jurisdiction of the Judiciary relates to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may exercise only appellate jurisdiction except in cases involving states, foreign ambassadors, ministers or consuls.

The Judiciary in Nigeria

6. (1) The judicial powers of the federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the federation.

(2) The judicial powers of a state shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this constitution, for a state.

(3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this constitution for the federation and for the states, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record.

(4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:-

(a) The National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a high court;

(b) The National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.

(5) This section relates to:-

(a) The Supreme Court of Nigeria;

(b) The Court of Appeal;

(c) The Federal High Court;

(d) The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

(e) A High Court of a State

(f) The Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

(g) A Sharia Court of Appeal of a State;

(h) The Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

(i) A Customary Court of Appeal of a State;

(j) such other courts as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and

(k) Such other court as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws.

(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section:

(a) Shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law

(b) Shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person;

(c) Shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution;

(d) Shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law.

Role of Education

Change will come when we know true democracy and keep ourselves informed. We have to encourage our families, friends and neighbours to populate the educated camp till the ignorant camp is totally deserted. An individual's commitment to group effort is what makes it work. It makes a team, society, civilization work and a change possible. Now is the time for all good people of our great nation to come to the aid of our flawed democracy. Education is all we need for this revolution.

Every great change begins with a dream. We have dreamt dreams and we all have to always remember that we have within us the required ingredients to reach for the stars and change the world. We have the strength and the passion which are God-given; we only need to activate them!

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." (J.F Kennedy).

Change neither comes from the East or the West nor from the North or the South. It comes from you and I. We are the real CHANGE that Nigeria needs right now. It's our moment to make this country a better place than we met it.

We have to work together to confront the problems confronting us as a people in order to save the nation of our fathers for the sake of our children.

"An extra-ordinary change does not require any extra-ordinary effort of one but the ordinary effort of all" - OteniyaRK

I have chosen to be among those who would be rightly judged by posterity. What about you?

God bless Nigeria!

Nigeria go better!

Rufus Kayode Oteniya (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is the founder of Transparency For Nigeria, promoting transparency, integrity and accountability in Nigerian politics, polities and policies.