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Nigeria’s democracy, 13 years of hardship —Opposition, Labour, lawyers

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May 29, 2012 by Niyi Odebode, Olusola Fabiyi, Fidelis Soriwei and Ihuoma Chiedozie

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, NLC-President-Mr-Abdulwaheed-Omar and Mr. Rotimi Fashakin

Political parties and eminent Nigerians on Sunday assessed 13 years of democracy in Nigeria. They came up with the verdict that it was full of failures and hardships.

But the ruling Peoples Democratic Party disagreed, saying democracy was on course in the country.

The groups and personalities, who scored the country’s 13 years of democracy low, included the All Nigeria Peoples Party, the Congress for Progressive Change and the Nigeria Labour Congress.

Others are a foremost scholar, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, and lawyer, Mr. Fred Agbaje.

•Govt has no regard for people – NLC

The Acting General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Owei Lakemfa, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the government had no regard for people’s opinions.

According to him, democracy is not merely the casting of ballots or the conduct of elections every four years; it includes the participation of the populace in the process of governance.

Lakemfa said, “What we have done is a transfer of power in 1999, from military to civilian rule, not a democracy. In that sense, marking May 29 as Democracy Day in Nigeria is a misnomer. It is not about celebrating Democracy Day, it is about the commemoration of the day, May, 29 1999, when military rule was succeeded by civilian rule.”

•Full of hardship – ANPP

 The ANPP National Chairman, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said the one year of President Goodluck Jonathan administration was full of hardship.

He said, “As I speak, the cost of living has become almost unbearable with the purchasing power of most Nigerians dwindling from day to day. The cost of basic food items is gradually rising beyond the reach of many of our brothers and sisters.

“We demand that the planned increase in electricity tariff be placed on hold. This is not the time to increase price. Let price increase come when people can see a corresponding improvement in service. Nigerians have suffered enough and we believe nothing should be further done to worsen their plight.

•It’s a tale of dismal failure – CPC

 The CPC, in a statement on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, described Jonathan’s one year in office as a dismal failure.

The party stated, “There is nothing worthy of note that the administration of Dr. Jonathan had done to improve the infrastructural development, education, security and economy of the Nigerian State.”

According to the party, the country’s infrastructure is in comatose with no plan for improvement.

The party said, “The roads are in parlous state, with receding hope for rehabilitation; stability in electricity supply remains a mirage!

“The leadership-induced sleazy tendency is still nightmarish, as the like has never been seen in the nation’s chequered history.

“There is also the added ethno-religious divisiveness that is supervised by the leadership for vain political advantage.”

It concluded, “Succinctly put, the Jonathan’s administration in the last one year has been a sordid tale in gross incompetence.”

•Democratic experience unsavoury— Sagay, Agbaje

Sagay and Agbaje said the democratic experience had so far not been a savoury one for Nigerians.

Sagay said government at all levels had failed to live up to the provisions of Section 14, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which stipulated that the security and well being of the people were the basic responsibilities of government.

He said, “The only positive thing from the democratic dispensation is freedom of speech and expression.

“But in the area of social and economic rights, it has been a disastrous failure.”

He also pointed to the high level of corruption in the country as another indication of the failure of the democratic dispensation.

“The whole country has gone to the dogs.

“The elite don’t care; the country is now broke while the elite who are entrusted with governance have more money than they need for an eternity.

“So far, the return to civilian rule has been a failure,” he said.

To Agbaje, it has been “a tale of woes.” He said Nigerians had suffered under the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party since 1999 and bemoaned the high level of corruption in the country.

Agbaje said, “To me, the return of democracy since 1999 has been a lamentation period for Nigerians under the PDP-controlled Federal Government.

“The only thriving industry in Nigeria today is corruption – in fact corruption has become the 37th state with its own weekly and monthly allocation.

•Jonathan on course –PDP

However, the PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisah Metu, on Sunday said both National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, and members of its National Executive Committee said since the party began to control the affairs of the country 13 years ago, the country had made significant progress.

The statement reads in part, “In the last 13 years, PDP governments at federal, states and local council levels, have carried out far-reaching reforms in the various sectors of the economy to serve as building blocks for sustainable development and to grow our capacity in local production and improve the quality of service delivery.

“And after the remarkable elections held on the 16th of April 2011, when Nigerians emphatically demonstrated their confidence in our ability to lead them yet again, transformation was our pledge to a nation that spoke with one voice. A year on, we are right on course!”

It called on opposition political parties and civil societies to join hands with the PDP-led Federal Government in order to move the country forward


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