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Author Name: Musa Augustine
Number of articles: 4
Democracy the world over is believed to be the best system of government. Little wonder most developed... (0) Comment


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The Mess of Nigeria's Democracy
Author: Musa Augustine | September 15, 2011



Democracy the world over is believed to be the best system of government. Little wonder most developed countries of the world, United State of America (USA), Germany and France are often referred to as advanced democracies. Nigeria at independence in 1960 started with a parliamentary system of government, with late Dr. Nnamdi Ezikiwe as the head of the government, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the first Prime Minister and the duo of Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto) and Obafemi Awolowo as heads of regional governments, North and Western regions before the intervention of the military. When comparing the military rule and the so-called democracy of the past 12 years, one will be shocked at the revelation, although the military junta was characterized with challenges like the civil war, coup dâétats, human right abuses, but in terms of infrastructural development and welfare of the citizenry, the military fared better. As the proverbial saying, âIf a child does not die, he must walk.â But the question is, walking towards which direction? As the country continued to develop the idea of copying the developed countries which had advanced in their course of practising democracy, became more visible, Although, this was later broken by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari after all efforts put in place by General Olusegun Obasanjo to install democracy in the country which led to the emergence of Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the first democratically elected President of Nigeria. He finished his first tenure in 1983 and was re-elected in the same year before he was eventually overthrown by Buhari in a bloodless coup. Since the exit of Shehu Shagari, the hope of democracy in Nigeria was almost dashed. But thanks to the god of democracy, in 1999, we returned to democratically elected government. It was celebration all over the country when Nigerians in their millions on the 29th of May, 1999, when Obasanjo administration was inaugurated. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was handed over to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in hope that good things would happen in the country. Obasanjo then took over with a promising and hopeful beginning. He gave Nigerians, especially civil servants hope with the people-oriented programmes he embarked on. The salary increment for civil servants in the country, rehabilitation and construction of roads. Best among equal, the privatization of public establishments due to under performance and also the establishment of anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). We thought that at last the Messiah had come to save Nigeria but we were wrong. Unfortunately, the mess began at the National Assembly which should be the central point of our nascent democracy. The first two senate presidents Senator Evan Ewerem and Chuba Okadibo when they were all sacked on an alleged corruption. This was followed by some ministers who were also accused of high level corruption. Although, as a country boy back then, I knew less or nothing about good governance. But I started having a change of mind on how good or what dividends democracy would bring to the common man on the street. As if that was not enough, the first four years of President Olusegun Obasanjo ended and he was re-elected. It was believed at that time that the expectations of Nigerians were not completely dashed. And so the journey continued. After the Obasanjo re-election, as a patient dog would wait patiently, Nigerians waited for dividends of democracy. Another session of National Assembly was inaugurated with Adolphus Wabara emerging as President of the Senate. As if no lesson was learned from what happened to his predecessors, he forgot about people-oriented bills, dipped his hands in corruption and was shown the way out, giving way to a philanthropist, man of his words, Senator Ken Nnamadi who successfully ran the affairs of the 5th Senate. Before the expiration of the Obasanjoâs second tenure, the mess did not stop at the National Assembly, but rather penetrated the Presidency. First was the tenure elongation plan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo which was totally rejected by Nigerians. Secondly, Obasanjo and his Vice President, Atiku Abubakar clashed. Thus, the two principal officers, Olusegun Obasanjo and his Vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on corruption allegation pointing accusing fingers on each other, moving from hope of progress to the face of retrogression. As it is believed everyday comes with its own song, that regime came to an end. YarâAdua took over with promises of putting Nigeria on the right track. He raised the issue of Electoral Reform which sincerely helped a lot in the last ever free, fair and credible April elections in the country. Others were zero tolerance to corruption and commitment to rule of law and due process which observers believed at that time to be very difficult as it would clash with the interest of high profile personalities and would be in the favour of the common man. But that was unfortunately nipped in the bud and corruption continued to rear its ugly head in almost every sector of the economy. The mess continued at the same National Assembly but this time around shifted from the upper chamber of the National Assembly to the lower chamber, i.e the House of Representatives when Mrs. Patricia Etteh as the Speaker, was involved in a corruption scandal. Although the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tried at that time to protect her by sweeping the allegation under the carpet. Thanks to a man of his word as YarâAdua, she was shown the way out; which paved the way for Oladimeji Bankole who shamefully ended his tenure in EFCC custody. Not that I forgot that of Professor Adenike Grange and Elder Gabriel Aduku both from Ministry of Health as Minister of Health and Minister of State for Health respectively; who also ended up in the nest of EFCC. This show to you the kind of democracy we practise in Nigeria. Wonder, they say, never ends. So this is the case of Libya where the average Libyan had all he needed to live a comfortable life except the grudge over Muammar Gaddafi long-stay in office as President of Libya. How justified is the interference by the international communities under the umbrella of the United Nations (UN)? Ought Muammar Gaddafi who had given virtually everything to average Libyan man be treated the way he has? Libya under Gaddafi has results to show for good governance and leadership. If the western nations today would vow to kick Gaddafi out as leader of Lybia over a long-stay in office, what of Nigeria? A country that practises democracy of short-stay in office without good governance? A country that out of grievances, poverty, illiteracy, the masses have turned the so-called democracy to demo-militant, demo-Boko Haram, demo-kidnapping and demo-bombing? A country where robbers would ask its citizens to lie on the road in their tens and allow vehicles to run over them due to lack of security. A country where parents watch helplessly as their children sleep with empty stomachs talk more of sending them to school? What is wrong with a long-stay in office with good governance? Today, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is at the helm with a promised to wash the dirty clothes of a 50-year-old lunatic Nigeria. Yes, Nigerians believe that Jonathan has available water, soap and Omo that is required to do the job. But, is the President aware that bleach is also required? And does Mr. President also know that to wash the clothes of a 50-year old lunatic you have to be courageous and bold enough because he is likely not understand or appreciate your good work? For President Goodluck Jonathan to succeed, he has to wipe the tears on the faces of Nigerians as he promised in his inaugural speech where he said âFellow Nigerians, your time of lamentation is over.â Unfortunately four to five months after, we are still lamenting. Mr. President should change his steps and stop the present slow-motion in handling issues of concern.

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