Not as envisaged by the people who fought for the country’s independence. The democracy inherited from the colonial rule, suffered series of distortions. The nation has suffered a lot of setbacks due to incessant military incursion. Countries that were at par with Nigeria whch did not have the misfortune of military intervention are now far ahead in terms of political, economic and social development. Now that we are operating a democracy again, the country should be allowed to perfect and enjoy the dividends of democracy. The return of the military in the year 1983 truncated that effort.
First military incursion
Military incursion of 1966 was not justified. Everybody knows that this country was dragged backward by that intervention. If you go to the records our per capita income in 1966 compared with what we have today, tells you we have been stepping backwards, continually. The incursion has to do with crises after the 1964 election after which Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe felt it was not proper for him to invite Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belawa, because of the imperfection in the whole election. It took the intervention of senior citizens like the former Chief Justice, Sir Adetokumbo Ademola and former Head of Service, Chief Adebayo to find temporary solutions to the political crises. These senior citizens ensured the emergence of Government of National Unity between the NPC, the NCNC and other parties. By the time the military struck, Dr. Azikiwe was actually away in the Caribbean and the military struck and assassinated people. This incident consequently plagued the country into political crisis that led to the emergence of the civil war.
Shehu Shagari’s administation
In the Second Republic, there were five registered political parties and each one of them were running government either at the centre or in some states. When the military took over in 1983, they arrested political leaders and detained some of them for two years without trial, while some were taken to the military tribunal and imprisoned for between 100 to even 300 years!
President Shagari was kept incommunicado in a bungalow for two years, until his personal physician insisted on seeing him because of his failing health condition. Shagari told his physician that he was not allowed to see sunlight but kept perpetually indoors and the windows of the bungalow painted black so he would not be able to see sunshine; people attending to his needs were not allowed to have any discussion with him.
Buhari as civilian president
In 1999 when the military handed over to a democratically elected president, they invited one of their own, General Olusegun Obasanjo, to be President. And to my mind, the eight-year presidency of General Obasanjo was not a full-fledged democracy — it was half-military, half-democracy. I want to establish that it will be very difficult for a General in the Nigerian Army to run a real democracy. Muhammadu Buhari who spent more than half of his life as a trained military officer cannot change into a democrat. There is a limit to what Muhammadu Buhari can practice and I don’t think there is anything to suggest that General Buhari has changed from a military officer into a civilian democrat, except that he was looking for power and he got power by contesting election through a political party.
Every Nigerian, old or young, big or small, male or female, is competent enough to tell the difference between now and two years ago. Before the advent of the present administration, a bag of rice sold between N5,000 and N6,000. The US Dollars sold between N160 and N190. The price of petrol, gas and kerosene were far less than what they are sold today.
Our predicament is occasioned by the fact that the APC, instead of working out a plan coined empty slogan of change without any content! They concentrated their attention on how to get to power but not what to do with that power. The net result is that people embraced the slogan of change without bothering to find out what the change will bring about. Indeed, Nigeria under the leadership of APC has moved one step forward and two steps backward.
On Chibok girls
Dialogue is the answer. When President Umar Musa Yar’Adua was in power, there was dialogue between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta militants which ended militancy. I support dialogue between the Federal Government and the Boko Haram insurgents.
APC’s blame of ex-president Jonathan
This is the natural consequence of what happens when people come to power in the name of lofty ideas and yet, they have nothing to show to the people.
South-South, South-East agitations
All these are expressions of frustration by ordinary Nigerians. When people are in a predicament and they are looking for solution and they find themselves in a situation where they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, they become frustrated.
I don’t see Nigeria breaking up because of agitations for Biafra and Republic of Niger-Delta. The Biafra of the vision of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu could have been a viable proposition because it would have encompassed the areas comprising of the present five states in the South-East geo-political zone and six states of the South-South geo-political zone.
The agitators of the present Biafra state are only confined to states in the South-East geo-political zone. A careful examination of the situation of the South-East geo-political zone will reveal that a large percentage of the people from this particular area are now living in other parts of Nigeria. No magic can collect these large chunks of people and relocate them to the confine of the South-East geo-political zone.
In addition, the people from South-East geo-political zone in the Nigerian diaspora are the richest Nigerian community, far richer than any other group of people in Nigeria. In fact, I am surprised to read from a letter written by second Military Governor of defunct Western Region, General Adeyinka Adebayo to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in which he lamented that 70 percent of all the industrial establishments in Lagos are owned by people from the South-Eastern geo-political zone.
Now, I ask you, who will make this people abandon their huge investments in Lagos, not to talk of their interest in other parts of the country? So, the agitators for Biafra are just using the slogan to antagonize the people in power.
Nigeria in recession
This idea of selling assets will not take Nigeria anywhere. We are not the first country to find ourselves in this economic recession. To solve the problem of the economic predicament we are in today, we have to look elsewhere to find solution to it.
We need a leader with foresight; we need a leader that is committed to the welfare of all irrespective of where you come from. We need a political platform with a clear ideology that will be able to galvanize our abundant resources and ensure even distribution of development to all parts of the country.