NIGERIANS WHICH WAY FORWARD? - Chioma Rosemary Onyekaba

Democracy as we all know today is no longer just the government of the people, by the people and for the people but also an expression of the will of the people.

Taking a look at South Africa today we will all discover that it is one of the youngest democratic societies in the world. It barely turned twenty-two on the 27th of April, 2016 after suffering 42years of apartheid rule. Logically, one would say that 22years is quite little for them to achieve the needed changes in their society but today South Africa has experienced tremendous growth and development all connected with the dividends of democracy.

In the case of Ghana, after a little over a decade of military rule, Ghanaians looked up to multi-party democracy with its benefits of material progress, guaranteed universal and economic freedom. After the National Democratic Council won the PROVISONAL National Defence Council in 1992. They were in power for 8years during which Ghana experienced great financial sector reforms, educational growth and lots more.

"When a society demands a change there is no need attempting to change it on old principles because each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it". 

Sierra Leone and Libya could no longer leave the destiny of their country in the hands of cooked politicians and military adventurists so they took it upon themselves and brought a change to their present political system in the name of National Salvation and Liberation which they now enjoy today. Had it been they sat down and folded their arms, they would still be at the mercy of their oppressors.

Our famous writer, William Shakespeare once said that "we know what we are but know not what we may be’’

Our country, Nigeria has enjoyed the longest period of civilian rule since independence in 1960. During the 33years experience from 1966 until the 4th republic came into being in 1999, civilians only governed for a short while. Historically, therefore, the scarcity of democratic experience has created enormous challenges to institutionalising democracy in Nigerian 4th Republic. Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that the past decade and especially since 1999, Nigeria has experienced positive growth and development.

Despite the legacy of brutal authoritarianism under General Abacha’s military rule, the civilian government from the time of president Olusegun Obasanjo down till the time of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration, has to its credit made some significant improvement. It’s Economic Reform Program and Transformation Agenda at that time did win the qualified praise of both international and national witnesses.

Nigeria at that time enjoyed a lot of benefits from DEMOCRACY like; Civil Liberties, Freedom of Press, Good roads and infrastructures, Quality education, Stability, Agricultural growth, Youth and Women empowerment in government, growth in science and technology and lots more but today the reverse is the case.

Pessimism and cynicism are widely spread in evaluating Nigerian democracy. The cynics from the 1990’s however would never have predicted that NIGERIA would now be poised to hold its fourth civilian election cycle nor would they have predicted that a converted democrat would one day sit on that great throne as the president of this country. 

In 1999 only about 65% of Nigerians believed in democracy but today over 85% are clamouring for it. Our country has moved from being a rejected stone to being an influential voice since the inception of democracy but little did we know that our ignorance would lead us to going a million steps backward on arriving the desired moment of our democracy when we were beginning to nurse the feelings that we could stabilize our economy and embrace the true meaning of democracy. Our pride as a regional, continental and global power block has been enhanced since civilians assumed the saddle of leadership but for some reason today it seems like we are back to the regime of military rule.

Without going deep into what we all are already are aware of, I wish to say that nothing in life is impossible because looking closely at that word impossible comes the word I’m possible in every situation in life. I still believe that Nigerians can do something to liberate themselves from this hardship and help grow our economy in unity and peace. 


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