Democracy Day


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Democracy Day:  Nothing To Celebrate




Paul Mamza



June 1, 2005 



The second phase of the current democratic experience had gone half circle with May, 29 being its symbolic expressions.  The date marked the initial journey into the new horizon and four years after metamorphosed into the greatest circuit of electoral larceny evaluating the very basis of its initial intentions.  Four years of leadership without clear participation of visionary instruments and acquisition of veritable mission had been nurtured at great costs of lost of lives and missed enabling opportunities morphing into the greatest calamities of perfidies two years after.  By the time the second election period emerged, a monster had force its way as a beast out of the ailing system to unleash the worst of tragedies in the history of elections in Nigeria. 


The consequences are that there’s six years of ‘Democracy’ without democratic ideals of free choice, freedom of participation, accruable rights, justice and fairness.  It was in solid terms a democracy with no democratic flavour - a favour of equal rights and equitable confrontation of vices of participatory good governance.  A kite flown amidst high hopes but ruffled by excesses and exacerbation nurtured by self-survivalist instincts remotely captured along th e periphery of collective aspirations of greatness.  Nigeria and Nigerians had suffered similar fate in the past but the present predicament is so devastating in that high hopes envisaged had zeroed to despairs within limitless of time. 


It can be surmised as the tragedy of all tragedies with deliberate intents and sordid intentions.  What we had in the last six years in no more political in cherish-able terms but frightful in spastic terms.  The experience is a catalogue of misdirection and disoriented mission shaping up the relics of totalitarianism in all its impressions.  Massive poverty, pervasive corruption, consanguinity of rogued leadership, infringement of people’s righ ts and gross tinkering of basic tenets with all the insensitivities of timorousness.  With all the kerfuffle of despairs by its citizens and rapt suspicion of the International Community, the leaders in the country in its malignant urge of rapacity for rape on the collective sensibilities maintain a braggart posture infested by false self-righteousness. 


The actions can be venial but the impacts’ portends damaging effects of fragility of the nation’s fabric.  No wonder the US Intelligence report has predicted a doomsday for Nigeria in some fifteen years to come.  It is the President Obasanjo’s tyrannical dictatorship over the so-called democratic rule that prompted the baseline for the rumored ultimatum. 


If at all, celebrating orgy of violence, arbitrariness, lack of food and security of lives and property, inflation and deprivation through depravity, flagrant abuse of rule of law and official plan for inequality is acceptable, democracy day is May 29th otherwise it is in real terms a day of mourning and grief propelled by undemocratic acts of leadership overshadowing democracy – six years of systematic massacre of democratic values. 


To take stock, the destruction of Odi Village by a gang of rampaging soldiers inflicting deaths and rape on innocent women as shown as spectacle in the national dailies, the Zaki – Biam’s muzzling by gunfire  which claimed over three hundred lives and un-estimated quantity of properties, the unhindered  OPC massacre of Northerners in the South West, the Kaduna, Yelwa-Shendam and Kano c risis that engulfed the lives and property of defenseless citizens, the targeted killings of political opponents viz, Chief Harry Marshal, Chief Aminasoari Dikibo, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Chuba Okadigbo and a host of others, the electoral act forgery, the manipulation of tendencies at the National Assembly, the forceful convocation of National Political Reforms Conference and humiliation of political officers with different opinions, amongst others cannot be but a case for sober reflections.


Trapped in the nadir is high level of frustration and despair of the citizens of the country.  No wonder the local populace in Kogi State did not hide their feelings when they nabbed the convoy of the representative of their Governor, the deputy Governor, Chief Phillip Sallawu at an event to celebrate democracy day.  The deputy Governor was reported to have escaped narrowly.  No common man in his common senses even through the mirage of ventilated ventriloquism will celebrate political assassinations, misappropriation of public funds, electoral fraud, massive deprivations, lack of electricity, water and food amongst other vices deliberately adopted statecraft.   The issue of corruption which has been integrated as an essential norm where leaders prefer to leave behind a legacy of theft and the pretentious/empty platitudes and sermons against corrupt practices and yet indulging in the most corrupt practices, had been the major bane of the democratic system currently been run.  From 27th position on the corruption ladder during late General Abacha’s tenure, the country moved swiftly up, to the 2nd and 3rd positions maintaining the level in the last six years of democratic rule.  The ordinary Nigerians at home suffer consequences of corrupt acts of its leadership and the contempt of the international community abroad, every Nigerian is seen and viewed as a criminal-in-the-waiting.  


It is the 2003 election that completely staggered the residual institutional constitutionalism of the system, which was for the early years arching to find its feet.  A government rigging apparatus and military arsenals was deployed on un-relentless voters scaring away even the most determined of aspiring voters there by leaving the scene of rigging to forcibly imposed candidates.  In most centres, results were altered and in some, no single election took place.  Even the inter national observer had in its report highlighted the anomalies.  In order to maintain the status quo some detractors of people’s right are maneuvering for extension of tenure of the President at the so-called National Political Reform Conference.  Thanks to Former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who through a press release warned that “Any Chief Executive who cannot perform within a period of five years is obviously unprepared for the job and must have come to it without clear ideas as to vision and mission for such a serious assignment and responsibility”.  With six years on the throne the President had shown clearly that there’s was no clear ideas as the vision and mission (apologies to Ekwueme) before assuming the mantle of leadership otherwise how can one rationalize the colossal failures recorded so far by his government.  


The President had in-avertedly created a symptomatic image of destruction, he supervised the destruction of all sustainable structures.  If Abuja is not recuperating in rumbles, harsh economic conditions are amidst market forces or legislators marooned in redundancy.  Virtually all the structures are within dictating firm of a wishful President making even the Vice President and Ministers in his cabinet mere spectators.  Considering the miseries and misfortunes that is prevalent and the entrenched anarchy looming around the nation, there’s nothing to celebrate about democracy as presently practiced in Nigeria but to pray for divine intervention to save the country from the clutches of poverty, despair, misrule and anarch y as nurtured by President Olusegun Obasanjo.  The President would have been the most sympathetic having received God’s sympathies at odd times.  We pray that God will touch his heart for change within the remaining period of his leadership.  Or else the nation will place him at the negative annals of time. But obviously the bastardization of the nation’s psyche and the balkanization of the nation’s societal systems cannot be a virtue worthy of celebration.


-       Mamza, a Political Columnist with the Leadership Newspapers writes from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria



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