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399 views | Elochukwu Benjamin | June 12, 2020
As Nigeria celebrates Democracy Day today, opinions are varied as to whether there is any hope for the country’s future considering the socio-economic and political travails which the nation faces.
This is just as everyone agrees that democracy in the country has not really been what it should be.
In Anambra, aside from the shutdown of government offices, there appears to be no sign that such a celebration is going down.
According to a University Don, Professor Dennis Aribodor, changing the nation’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12, was to connect to an exercise in 1993 that depicted the ideals of a transparent and peaceful election.
But according to him, Nigeria has failed to learn from the event.
“What we saw in 1993 in the election of MKO Abiola of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bashiiru Tofa of National Republican Convention (NRC) was a watershed in the conduct of elections in the country. The option developed by the then Chairman of NECO, Humphery Nwosu was the best we have ever seen in this country. In the election, Nigerians sacrificed their interests and showed their love for their country. From that time till now, Nigeria is yet to have democracy as what we have now can be best described as civilian government.
Today, the political offices have been priced above the reach of those Nigerians who are ready to give service. Tell me what a public servant in Nigeria can afford from his own honest saving just to afford the #20 million naira cost of picking forms for party primaries. What does that say about our democracy,” he queried.
A Politician, Comrade Tony Uche Ezekwelu, who worked as a polling officer in the 1993 election, is of the view that the foundation of democracy is an electoral process that reflects all the attributes of transparency.
“What we are celebrating today is June 12 or MKO Abiola Day and not democracy day because we do not have democracy in this country. Elections are not transparent in this country and this is inspired by the mentality of our politicians that election is a do or die affair. Also, the dependence of the electoral body is also a major factor as he who pays the piper dictates the tune. We have also seen how tribalism and nepotism have continued to demean our electoral system and one may ask, how do we intend to have a democracy with all these. I think the future of this nation is bleak and something must be done urgently to address these challenges,” Ezekwelu opined.
A banker, Dr Francis Asoanya, maintained that the people are to blame for their role in ensuring that the nation’s democracy does not work.
He identified selling of votes as what makes it impossible for visionary leaders to ascend positions of authority while keeping the masses in perpetual penury.
But for Valentine Ozigbo, a Nigerian business mogul and philanthropist, although the democratic experiment had not been perfect, there are still aspects of it that ought to be celebrated.
“As we celebrate another year in this democratic journey, it is only proper that we take a moment to ponder on our recent past, evaluate the present, and strategize on the future of our dear country.
“In several ways, and on several fronts, we have overcome adversities and challenges. We have come out of these challenges stronger and determined to build a secure, stable, equitable, prosperous, and democratic Nigeria,” he said.
Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and CEO of Transcorp Plc, also called for leaders at all levels to take a look at the various calls for the restructuring of the country’s economic model to create a more inclusive economy that works for every Nigerian irrespective of their tribe, gender, or religion.