By Tunde Akanbi
Democracy Day is set aside in Nigeria to celebrate the age long democratic rule of the big African nation. It is held annually on May 29.It is an annual celebration in Nigeria and this time around, the nation will be celebrating 17 years of uninterrupted democracy since 1999 when former President Olusegun Obasanjo took over from military government. May 29, is one of Nigeria’s most well known holidays.
Democracy Day recognises the era of military rule in Nigeria and the restoration of a democratic system of government. Though, the day declared as Democracy Day in Nigeria is still a subject of controversy, many citizens view the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate democracy and basic human rights.
Democracy Day is also seen by some as an opportunity to educate others on the importance of participating in the political process and to encourage younger people to value the rights for which so many people fought so hard achieve.
Others are of the view that May 29 is not Nigeria’s Democracy Day but rather October 1, when Nigeria became an independent country. Some are again of the view that June 12, 1993 should be celebrated as Nigeria’s Democracy Day when the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the acclaimed best ever election in Nigeria. It is on record that the pro-June 12 activists still celebrate June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day in honour of late Chief M.K.O Abiola.
While some state governors will be marking one year in office, many others will be celebrating five years in the mantle of leadership. As usual, print and electronic media will be awash with paid adverts by sycophants eulogizing and praising to high heavens even the non-performing political office holders, particularly the state governors.
Typical congratulatory messages will rent the air while political office holders will deliver sugar coated speeches that will not turn out to be dividends of democracy.
Ordinarily, a time like this should be spent retrospecting, taking stock of how much has been achieved and how much still needs to be done. Unfortunately, paid political loyalists will roll out the drums to celebrate mediocrity for a job not done. The road ahead is still choked with the debris of problems left for too long unattended.
The poor electorate are faced with the challenges of well being, insecurity, economic decline and corruption more so with the long standing problem of months of unpaid salaries. Wise and sound policies are within our capacity but our leaders don’t have or pretend not to have the political will to accomplish them. Our leaders must fight and fight as if we are going to war and not a carnival.
Our dear country Nigeria had been portrayed negatively before the the international community but with what is now happening under President Muhammadu Buhari, the international community now sees Nigeria as an inspiring example. It is our hope that other political office holders with particular reference to our lawmakers and governors would emulate President Buhari and govern in an open democratic process that would rekindle the hope of the electorate.
Going down memory lane in terms of democratic dividends, some politicians and political parties have destroyed the pillars of democracy. They have not done anything worth celebrating to enable people enjoy dividends of democracy. There are about 180 million people in Nigeria and over 100 million citizens that live from hand to mouth. Politicians celebrate in very expensive manner, while the masses are crying with great pains and extreme difficulties. They are completely hopeless. Some politicians are not behaving like normal people either due to too much money some of them have acquired or looted or due to the juicy positions they are presently occupying not minding life after death.
As Nigeria celebrates 17 years of uninterrupted democracy, the country is still wallowing in perpetual darkness, lack of functional refineries leading to initial endless fuel queues which has now metamorphosed into hike in petroleum price from the initial pump price of N86.50k to N145.00 per litre and kidnappers having a field day in their criminal activities which is the situation we now find ourselves in the country.
We need politicians with the proper leadership qualities who can harness the wealth and potentials of this developing nation to a positive outcome. We definitely need to redefine our method of governance.
We also need to shift the powers from the centre to regions. We need a system that allows for dialogue and one that promotes participation.
However, any objective assessment of the Buhari administration will not fail to appreciate the gravity of the problems it inherited and the commendable efforts his government has made in addressing them within the limit of time and resources, among others.
As we celebrate another year of Democracy Day, let’s all join hands to make Nigeria great again.
Akanbi wrote from Ilorin. Email: