20 years of our democratic struggles




As Nigeria celebrates 20 years of un-interrupted democracy, the country is still going through difficult and hard situations, especially in the areas of security, economy and national unity.

 In 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy which drew attention of international and national spectators, particularly on the issue of unity of the country, looking at the multi-cultural and religious nature of the country.

Many Nigerians within and in the diaspora celebrated the moment with the open mind that, now the nation will experience radical transformation and development.

After the conduct of good six general elections, the Nigerian electoral process has improved but with some ugly setbacks like electoral violence, high desperation by politicians, electoral logistic irregularities, poor organisation, vote buying and security compromise in our elections.

Although there are defined and clear cut democracy standards, Nigerian politicians are only interested in representing their personal needs or interest rather than putting the interest of the nation at heart.

Politicians in Nigeria have succeeded in dividing the country along religious and ethnic fault lines. Elections are no longer based on the capacity and ability of the person to deliver; most Nigerians are more interested in seeing their kinsmen occupying the corridors of power.

No wonder now the appointment into different ministries, department and agencies of government is based on where ones from and religious consideration rather than merit.

Our economy is at one step forward, two-steps backward with over 90.8 million Nigerians living below poverty line. The industries are no longer functioning, foreign investors are afraid to invest their resources and the level of unemployment is becoming a threat to our national security.

Another cancer that has eaten deep into our democracy and the unity of the country is the issue of wide spread of hate and dangerous speech, especially within the context of growing use and access to the social media.

Through these methods, we have continued to witness the multiplication of fake stories and gory images. Nigerian conversational space is suffocated with hatef contents that do not only threaten the peaceful atmosphere but also want to throw the country into war.

The hate speech is not limited to the social media platforms alone, it is openly now broadcast in radio and television programmes and, to a large extent, in newspapers. All these fake news and hate speeches that are circulating on daily basis are heating up our political atmosphere and driving the lines of division and sowing the discord in the minds of Nigerians.

Nigerians no longer trust each other due to the numerous crises in the country. Even though the Buhari administration did well in containing the situation but it has done little to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice.

Bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice will serve as deterrence to others and forestall future occurrence. To make matterd worse, is now the crisis of armed banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and Kaduna state.

Herders/farmers clashes in the North central  region and of course wide spread kidnapping with demanding of millions of naira from the victims, especially along Kaduna-Abuja high way, among other crises, are making our democracy fragile

Curiously, In spite of these multiple problems, the country appears to be waxing stronger. This means there will be light at the end of the tunnel. There is going to be brighter future for Nigerians if we can understand the wisdom of God in putting us together in one country despite our differences.

Government should provide conducive atmosphere for the economy to grow and woo or convince both domestic and foreign investors to invest in the country.

Doing so it will tremendously help the country to reduce the level of unemployment and also diversify our economy. Finally, Happy 20th anniversary of democracy and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mohammed is a Programme Officer, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD West Africa), Abuja. He tweets @idpyar

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