Democracy Day: A Lacklustre anniversary

Democracy Day: A Lacklustre anniversary

Today is Democracy Day in Nigeria. A day set aside to commemorate the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. Marked annually on May 29, it also offers an opportunity to celebrate basic human rights.

Democracy day dates back to 1999 when the newly elected President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, took office on May 29.That epoch-making event ended the multiple decades of military rule that began in 1966. Those long years, no doubt,witnessed a brief period of democracy from 1979 to 1983.

For Nigerians, this year’s Democracy Day comes at a time when a number of events have painfully highlighted the continued existence of long drawn division within the system with inexplicable consequences. The level of insensibility to the plight of Nigerians exhibited by the ruling party is to say the least, palpable.

It seems insensitive but the truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari’s health status provides respite but does not absolve the All Progressives Congress (APC), of obligation to redeem campaign promises it freely made to Nigerians.  Or make the failure less unbearable.

The responsibility of citizens to empathise with their president, especially at a difficult moment like this, is sacred but it does not invalidate the party’s moral obligation to honour its promises.
No time is more auspicious to rebuke the deficit in honour than the second anniversary of the administration.  In fairness, the party has made effort to redeem some promises, including random payment of N5, 000 stipend to some unemployed folks and providing free meals to pupils in primary schools in some states.

As at the last count, over 81 promises made remain yet to be redeemed by the party. It is difficult to imagine that fantastic promises were deliberately couched in dazzling and overflowing rhetoric that may have been designed strictly for soapbox sloganeering.

Contrary to this over-flowing electioneering promise of the party, the president’s promise to publicly declare assets and liabilities is yet to be redeemed, two years after the party won election. The criminal trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, for alleged false asset declaration even when many elected officials on the party’s platform were yet to declare their assets, exposes insincerity and policy dysfunction in the party.

The alleged manipulation of the war against corruption to ensnare only political enemies as well as failure to redeem the promise to stop government officials from seeking medical attention abroad further strengthen this alleged fountain of hypocrisy and insincerity by the ruling party. Apart from the president who has become a fixed equation in and regular contributor to medical tourism in the United Kingdom, other elected public officers on the APC platform have equally spat on honour with reckless impunity.

In addition to non-implementation of the National Gender Policy, including 35% of appointive positions for women and failure to revive the bottomless Ajaokuta steel company’s pit, the abysmal power situation in the country equally mocks the APC’s promise to generate, transmit and distribute, at least, 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW with a view to achieving 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within 10 years.

The unfulfilled promise to create three million jobs per year also stares the party in the face, just as its promise of a scheme to empower and employ 740,000 graduates across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.  And instead of eradicating state of origin and replacing it with state of residence to strengthen unity among Nigerians, the administration has consistently refused to punish rogue Fulani herdsmen who continue to commit genocides unmolested across the country.

Critics argue that the alleged subversion of security to patronise alien criminals masquerading as herdsmen is as deceitful as selectively targeting the Senate president and some judges for alleged false asset declaration, which most elected officials on the party’s platform are guilty of. Critics also allege that the substitution of herdsmen terrorism for Boko Haram insurgency is a tragic hypocrisy that is worse than corruption for which many perceived opponents have been targeted.

Perhaps the most damning allegation of clueless hypocrisy against the party is the president’s imperious rejection of the 2014 National Conference even when the nation spent so much money to organise the round-table whose report all nationalities unanimously accepted as recipe for peace and stability, either in the Niger Delta or other conflict prone areas dominated by religious and ethnic minorities like Plateau, Taraba, Bauchi, Southern Kaduna, Borno, Abia and Delta States.

The President would have to look into some of the challenges that still confront us as a nation. The problem of an undervalued national currency, a worsted manufacturing sector, and an almost wiped out middle class, escalating food prices and general poverty in the land must be addressed. Nigeria is not a real manufacturing economy. For our currency to be so devalued is to leave the nation and its people perpetually toiling for other economies while living on the fringes of survival.

Our national infrastructure – roads, electricity, the refineries, railways, water supply, health facilities, educational facilities have gone beyond being national embarrassment to become the source of national retrogression. The lopsided appointments, which has become as controversial as the two years of this administration, must be revisited. The Nigerian limps from one day to another besieged by avoidable inconvenience, stress and trailed by poverty.

At this moment, the patience of Nigerians is inelastic. Their expectations are high and their demands, significant. We submit that only a solid team devoid of party affiliations that has a missionary attitude to our national situation can carry Buhari to the point of delivering on the expectations of Nigerians.

The list of unfulfilled promises to Nigerians by the administration is as long as the list of allegations of hypocrisy. As tempting and convenient as it may be, the party cannot continue to hide forever behind the undisclosed illness of the president to manipulate public sympathy. To say the very least, redeeming its promises to Nigerians is a matter of honour for the APC as the administration marks its lacklustre second anniversary in office.

Happy Democracy Day to Nigerians!

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