VOICE OF LIBERTY: Isolationist mentality and people participation in governance ~ Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede


“The wealth of a nation is to be measured then, not by the power of its rulers or the bullion in the state treasury, but by the access to wealth on the part of any randomly chosen member of it.”– Tom G. Palmer

On several occasions, young people involved in one crime or another confess to the poverty-stricken state of the society as the reason they found themselves in the world of criminal activities. This goes beyond suspected armed robbers, kidnappers, scam artists and others paraded on state television, but also those whose crime of bribery has become a norm in a society where law and order is on a is nothing but paper and sounds. People wrangling between an almost non-existent period of peace and times to look over your shoulders as we presently see in certain parts of Africa.

While it will be fair to say these acts were a product of ‘struggling’ in a dysfunctional society where economic freedom is a mirage, the choices of individuals remain a responsibility they must live up to. Likewise, it is worth noting that absolute submission of all areas of a societal socio-economic wellbeing to the discretion of a leading few is a dangerous step in a wrong direction.

Hence, the need to overturn certain myths most of which have portrayed governance as an exclusive responsibility of a select elected few in government.

Lack of participation in the process of governance has massively influenced an isolationist mentality, which largely results in the separation of rulers from the ruled, the rich from the poor, and the elites from the masses, effectively promoting ignorance on the part of the governed.  However, while this cannot be entirely burdened as a fault of the electorate due to the winner-take-all do-or-die art of politics, it has a larger effect of intellectually enslaving the ruled and confining it to a self-imposed restricted area of etching an economic survival.

The leaders in turn, mostly despotic, take advantage of citizen’s non-interference in the art of governance as an unchallenged opportunity to cater for their pockets and that of their cronies.

Freedom, however, has never, and will never be a gratuitous gift from fate, but a deliberate effort to take possession of what is considered as a legitimate right regardless of the amount of imposed infringement. Hence, the economic freedom capable of nourishing a given society achievable through an effective judicial system, a limited government, market friendly regulatory efficiency, and open markets will never be handed down to the governed by the recipients few in positions of power. Rather, the reverse has always been the case.

The role of individuals and civil society groups is to invest in the market place of ideas, stirring a robust exchange of dialogue on ideas and issues that are capable of effecting economic growth and national development. Infiltrating these ideas within the larger populace, demanding for open and accountable governance and holding political representatives accountable for passages of policies that promote a free society will make a sound consummation of electoral votes cast to put the leaders in power, and most importantly, under check.

There is a huge possibility for an absolute power to corrupt absolutely, as Lord Acton asserted, it is however, the duty of the governed to stand up to the challenge of participating in the way they are governed, utilizing the very powerful court of public opinion to influence the wave of policies towards the direction of a free society.

As a precursor, however, this calls for an investment in the market place of ideas without which citizens cannot exert informed contributions as to how they are governed. It is time to take your ideas out of the restricted safety of your room, to a broader audience, deliberating best methods to accomplish a freer society through informed discourses, networking opportunities, seminars, meetings, and constructively engaging political leaders through every available medium.

At this point, the wealth of a society can proudly be measured by the ability of any randomly member of the society to access, benefit and replicate.


~ Fiyinfoluwa Esiarp Elegbede is an associate of African Liberty and writes on the VOICE OF LIBERTY project

Beyong casting ones votes

The nature of participatory democracy demands more than just electoral responsibilities from the people