Since Nigeria chose the path of democracy in 1999, there has been undulating progress made by successive governments in all spheres of the nation’s polity. Nigerians thought that democracy will provide a platform through which good governance will reduce the rank and file of the poor.
Nigerians were fed up with military misrule. They wanted something different, and thus, settled for democracy.
Many Nigerians accepted democracy because they thought it would build bridges and not walls between the rich and the poor. Since then, democracy has barely given the poor any hope.
High inflation, underemployment and unemployment now make millions of Nigerians very miserable. Most Nigerians find it difficult to believe that current economic challenges facing the nation today have been conceptualized, orchestrated and implemented since independence not by colonialists but by the political elites. It has been realized that democracy alone will not solve all the problems of the nation with multiple ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Why?
Democracy will only bring about national development when it is operated by a corps of sincere and committed leaders who are willing to produce more leaders and not followers.
Rather than have a nation whose economy is improving, Nigeria is mired by insecurity, fragile economy and corruption.
At the peak of corruption and impunity in 2015, Nigerians aligned themselves with a few politicians who thought there was need for a“change” in governance.
The electorate was desperate to have a new government at the federal and state levels without due consideration for the quality of politicians and their agenda. The “change” mantra reverberated throughout the four corners of Nigeria.
So, most Nigerians chorused change! change! change! They wanted the immediate past PDP-led government out of office at all cost and by any known democratic process. Nigerians wanted freedom from bondage immediately.
But Nigerians missed the opportunity big time to negotiate a deal with politicians on how to reduce poverty in the land. So, the struggle continues!
Though the nation’s economy is out of recession, there is still insecurity and corruption. With insecurity across the nation, there cannot be any meaningful development.
The nation’s economy cannot be thoroughly analyzed without factoring corruption into the analysis. In Nigeria, corruption is now an invisible enterprise and a highly profitable concern that does not pay tax.
Secondus, the Chairman of PDP asked Nigerians to forgive all his party members. He has forgotten that forgiveness comes with repentance. Since he did not say that PDP members have repented, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information released the list of looters-original and first supplementary. Other lists to follow.
In the past nineteen years, the challenges of Nigerian democracy far outweigh opportunities it provides to the nation. The challenges are numerous, multidimensional and complex. Perhaps, that is why political scientists always say that democracy is a very complex endeavor.
Although, democracy is a fallacy in practice, this writer loves it more than any military rule.
Some Nigerians reason that democracy in Nigeria means “government of politicians, by politicians, for politicians only.”
There can’t be a better definition of Nigerian democracy if governors and lawmakers served for only 4 years and they haul severance allowance and pension worth millions of Naira when public servants who served for more than 15 years have not been paid gratuity and pension after retirement.
There is already an outcry in the country over senators’ N13.5 million monthly allowance. While workers minimum wage is still N18,000 per month. Lawmakers at state and federal levels have been short-changing Nigeria and Nigerians for many years. Such allowances paid to our lawmakers do not match Nigeria’s circumstance as a technologically and industrially backward nation.
When Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as “the government of the people, by the people, for the people,” he was perhaps referring to Western democracies. Lincoln’s definition of democracy doesn’t refer to democracies practiced by politicians of African genre. Some commentators and analysts expressed some condescending perceptions about Africans in their remarks. One George Louis Beer claims that the “black race has hitherto shown no capacity for progressive development except under the tutelage of other peoples.” Justifying this derogatory assertion, he affirms that Africans existing stage of civilization in the late Twentieth Century is far below the potentialities for progress.
Other commentators and analysts painted an apocalyptic portrait of African nations more than two decades ago because of the immense human tragedy that pervaded the continent at that time under assorted military regimes. These commentators need to see Africa now, and find time to visit Nigeria where some states are barely performing their statutory responsibilities of providing security to citizens.
Due to high level of insecurity in the country, Olusegun Obasanjo’s clarion call for a coalition of Nigerian movement was issued. While Ibrahim Babangida released his letter titled “Towards a National Rebirth” to the APC-led federal government. Their concerns were followed by Theophilus Danjuma’s controversial self-defence strategy which is considered a call for anarchy by critics.
These are not calls for anarchy but wake-up calls to those in the government to do more for Nigerians. When one reflects on these messages, it is difficult to have a contrary opinion because most of those serving currently in the APC-led government have not demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the imperatives of good governance.
When all known indices of good governance are examined, Nigeria is always at the end of the ladder. Indeed, the economic profile of Nigeria in comparison to most industrialized nations is embarrassing because democracy has not improved the quality of lives of citizens. Democracy has made many poor such that poverty in Nigeria is at a disturbing level. Nigerians want democracy to open windows of opportunities to them.
As 2019 approaches, development challenges facing Nigeria are numerous and could better be solved when committed and sincere leaders emerge at state and federal levels of government. Nigeria needs visionary and committed leaders across board. Leadership is key to national development.