Today marks the 19th year of uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria.
The country joined the rest of the world as a democratic state since it attained independence in 1960 after three frantic attempts of sustainable democratic rule ended in failure.
However, in 1998, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military junta ushered Nigeria into its fourth attempt at enthroning democracy and in 1999, elections were held which ushered in the present democratic dispensation.
Since then in the 58-year history of the country, this is the first time the country is able to survive without military intervention after five consecutive general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 respectively.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway for 16 years until 2015 general election when for the first time in Nigeria’s political history, the opposition party; All Progressives Congress (APC) was able to defeat the ruling party, a development described as a mirage.
Following the dissatisfaction of many Nigerians with the misrule of the umbrella party, there was a coalition of political parties which comprises, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), CPC and part of APGA which fused into APC.
The result of the 2015 presidential election was described by most watchers of political development in Nigeria as a soothing relief for the disenchanted group.
Despite the fact that Nigeria has experienced nineteen years of uninterrupted democracy practice there are various challenges confronting democratic consolidation and good governance.
Corruption constitutes one of the greatest challenges and threats to the democrat consolidation in Nigeria.
The incidence of corruption in the country reached a crescendo in 2004 when a German based non-governmental organisation called Transparency International in its 2004 Corruption Perception Index(CPI), report projected Nigeria as the 2nd most corrupt country in the world(132nd out of 133 countries surveyed)
Poverty is another factor that constitutes grave challenges to democratic consolidation and good governance in the country. Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources and yet its people are poor. The nation is rank among the world’s poorest country. According to United Nations Development Programme (2009), in Nigeria hunger exhibits its ugly face in most homes where the average citizen contends with a life of abject poverty. Thus, about 70percent of Nigeria population are poor, the average Nigerian is alienated from himself as he lacks the wherewithal to afford the basic necessities of life such as education, medical facilities.
The consequence of this is that the poor masses are easily brainwashed and their right of choice terribly manipulated making an objective choice seldom to consideration. Besides, various forms of inducements and gratification which provide temporary relief from the scourge of poverty are given central attention in making democratic choices.
One other challenge confronting the present democratic dispensation is insecurity. Since the return of democracy, the country has experienced ethno-religious crises, sectarian mayhem.
Likewise, Post-election violence in the northern part of the country as well as the constant sectarian crisis exemplified by the activities of the Boko Haram and presently the killings by herdsmen in some states in the country.
In assessing how Nigeria has fared in the last 19 years of democratic practice, the vast majority of the people are unhappy with the state of the nation.
Everyone is complaining or unhappy about one thing or the other. If it is not about the economy which works for a few and the increasing cost of living, non-payment of salaries of workers and pensioners especially in the public sector, about the state of our education, health and justice systems, about infrastructure, especially power and roads, unemployment, marginalisation of some groups in terms of appointments and recruitment, declining moral valves, it is about the weakness, inefficient and ineffectiveness of our institutions making it difficult for us to resolve any problem.
Olapade Agoro, National Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC)
on the occasion of Nigeria’s 19th anniversary of Democracy Day, lamented that “it was unfortunate that the 19 years of democratic process have brought about poverty, suffering and sorrow to Nigerians as a result of corruption and mismanagement of funds”.
The NAC’s National Chairman lamented further that ” the 19 years of democratic experience in the country have been woefully messed up by corrupt politicians “, adding that what Nigerians need now are explanations on how some funds were mismanaged or embezzled.
Specifically, Agoro asked Buhari, Obasanjo, and Jonathan to come out and explain their roles on the $16 billion allegedly expended on the power project without any meaningful result, instead of embarking on a blame-game.
He said apart from this, Nigerians also deserve to know more about the $62 billion left behind in the country’s foreign exchange reserve in 2007 when former President Obasanjo was leaving office got depleted to about $360 million within one year, and the missing $20 billion crude oil money alleged by the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The NAC’s National Chairman, however, revealed that in order to create a platform for Buhari, Obasanjo and Jonathan to be heard, he (Agoro) would on August 16, 2018 organised a fora in Ibadan that would be tagged ” Face the Nation”, in which the trio and members of their economic teams will be invited to explain their roles in the alleged mismanagement of funds.
His words: “The issue of the $16 billion power project is not a blame-game issue. Buhari was partially right, claiming that Obasanjo spent $16 billion on the power project. The truth is that Obasanjo committed $12 billion, while the Yar’Adua/Jonathan’s administration committed $8 billion on the project.
“This is therefore, calling on Obasanjo to forget about asking anybody to go and read his book. Nigerians are not interested in that. Nigerians deserve to know what is happening. Nigerians are waiting for explanations on what happened to the money.”
On his part, Agunbiade Babatunde, aspirant for Lagos State House of Assembly, Alimosho Constituency 01 under People’s Democratic Party(PDP), said the 19 years of democracy in the country is nothing than veritable opportunity for some individuals, saying “what we practise here in this country is not democracy, it is called autocracy.”
“This country needs restructuring. If we truly want development or want to experience democracy, we need to decentralised the power, we need to give power to the regions; by this we can balance the system; I can say categorically if the 19years of democracy was actually in form of regional power such as western, northern, eastern maybe our dear country will be competing with Dubai in terms development.
“I can remember last four years. Victimisation of citizens was not this bad; today what are we experiencing? Where is freedom of speech bill that was passed? Where is freedom of worship? Where is freedom of association? Where is freedom of movement? Where is freedom..?
“Today religious war, tribalism, kidnapping etc…. insecurity is order of the day. When we are using decentralisation of power, there was serious competition among regions in terms of development. Check Awolowo’s records; Zik, Ahmadu Bello. This great men’s achievement can’t be measured in their regions within the short period of regional power and many of their results are still on ground today.”
According to him, “Last year, I was clamoring for local government autonomy. That is the only way we can develop. I will keep saying this, restructuring is key to Nigeria’s breakthrough. Federal system can never work for this country. 19 years is enough experiment.”
Akinremi Feyisipo, Ibadan