Since it’s natural to be grateful for anniversaries, I am indeed grateful for the independence anniversary of Nigeria which is today. For more than fifty years now we have celebrated the first day in the month of October and each time we look back, it seems we are making very small or insignificant progress.
What went wrong and why are we still here at this time of our life? I think that if we will put things in perspective it will be safe to say that we did not really get the concept of independence. We simply clamoured for it just like other nations did and we got it. Or maybe it will be right to say that the great nationalists who fought for the independence and made sure we got it knew what they were asking for but they did not know what their children who would eventually take charge would do with it.
If they are alive today, I think that they would have felt really bad. We made these nationalists look like heroes who fought with their lives, and some of them lost it, only to find a treasure that they threw in the hands of babes. What we have today is the remains of what their babes have done with the treasure that they fought so hard to get.
Now we have the independence and every year we celebrate it but of greater concern to me is our democracy. For you to understand why is should be a real concern to all of us, let me take you down memory lane for a while.
Many took the Obansanjo administration for a trial and error administration simply because we just got out of our own self-imposed colonialism from the military. A lot of people did not expect things to work so they stayed away from politics. Many thought it was just going to be another short-lived democracy. After it stabilised, we started doing what we know how to do best as a nation – talk rather than get involved. We may take it or leave it that he’s done his part and has left us with the rest.
The next administration came with the controversies of the President’s health. He finally died and then we had to deal with clamouring for the promotion of the then acting president (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) to become the president. Nigerians spoke out for him. We stood up for him but he soon forgot all of that. In a short while we woke up on New Year’s day (2012) and were greeted with the news of hike in fuel price. After a long protest on the increase in fuel price and removal of subsidy, he sent soldiers after us to disperse us.
The same President has watched billions of naira disappear under his nose. One of such was the twenty billion dollars made public by former CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who eventually lost his job for doing that. The issue is not under the carpet. Recently 9.3 million dollars of our money was seized in South Africa. People also seem to have forgotten that the present Minister of petroleum has been fingered many times for corrupt practices including the private jet scandal but the powerful hands of His excellency has always been shielding her from attacks.
I dare say that this is not about this administration. To say that the President has not done anything will be like giving a dog a bad name so that it can be hung. However, we have more pressing national issues that don’t seem to have gotten as much attention as it should have gotten. We still have more than 200 girls in the hands of terrorist and it is unimaginable that they have been away for going to 200 days now.
When I look at all that is happening in our country, it just does not look like our country fits the definition of democracy. To make the matters worse, I see spokes persons of the president come on national television or take to social media to answer questions posed to them in the rudest manner. Sometimes they plainly abuse. When Nigerians speak up they say it is the opposition. They did not call us opposition when we spoke up for the President to become the president at a time when some people did not want him to get there. We were not call opposition when we massively voted in 2011 elections.
In the midst of all the insurgency and other pressing national matters, the re-election bid of the president is his most important priority.
What then is democracy? I have so many questions on my mind just as I know you do but maybe you want to help me out. Looking at what Nigeria is, what will you call democracy?
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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