Hugo Odiogor,Â Deputy Political Editor
When pro-democracy groups forced the military junta to retreat into the barracks in 1999, the obvious assumption was that a worst civilian government was better than the most benevolent military dictatorship. This was the maxim that is beginning to cut a big gash at the heart of true democrats who risked their lives to ensure that Nigeria returned to the civilized ways of governance.
It was therefore no piece of cake for Professor Wole Soyinka at the age of 75, leading the like of Pastor Tunde Bakare, Joy Okei- Odumakin and Bamidele Aturu, and millions of other Nigerians to march through the streets of Abuja, and Lagos to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to the political circus being enacted by politicians on the account of an under performing and ailing president who chose to govern the country from his sick bed in Saudi Arabia With all pretensions to the mantra of rule of law and servant leader concept, President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua exposed the underbelly of the Nigerian political class who believe that: â€œthe masses are fools and ought to be deceivedâ€.
Members of the self serving and opportunistic political class may have thought that Nigerians are fed up with military dictatorship and they would rather live with a charade called democratic governance that offers the people nothing but misery, bare faced stealing and abysmal record of performance.
With their predisposition to public life and a largely docile populace, the ruling political elites seem to have conquered and subdue the spirit of NAIJA as they ran riot with all manner of idiocy that the citizens simply ignore.
Apart from foisting themselves on the people through fraudulent elections, the political class has also developed the culture of impunity and the audacity to treat the people like filth. It is only the Nigerian type of democracy that the citizens have no access to their supposed representative. It is only the Nigerian type of democracy that those who live among the people before enters into public office and begin to use armoured limos.
But all that may have changed with the recent ENOUGH IS ENOUGH campaign, organised by an amalgam of civil society groups, intellectuals, politicians, and pastors, under the name â€œSave Nigeria Groupâ€.
The objective of the group was to force the National Assembly, to respond to the cocktail of lies that was being hoisted on Nigerians by the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary on account of the incapacitation of President Umar Musa Yar Adua who has been out of the country for almost three months.
The culture of public protest gained momentum during the events that emanated from June 12, 1993 which demonstrated the potential of the Nigeria political elite to script off some patriotic goals and aspirations.Â But with the return of democratic governance, Nigerians returned to their shells leaving the political class to hold the nation to ransom.
So arising from the public petition of the G-54 to President Yarâ€™ Adua to resign, the SNG took up the gauntlet to reawaken the peopleâ€™s consciousness through a new wave of pro-democracy activism. It was a demonstration of the importance of public opinion in democratic governance. The trail blazed by SNG was followed by professional groups like the Nigeria Bar Association, Nigerian Media Owners, among others. There were also pro-government and other self seeking groups that had to speak out on behalf of government.
Before the emergence of the Save Nigeria Group, Nigerians had watched helplessly as government ministers indulge in culture of deceit. Prof Dora Akunyili, who had earned reputation as a promoter of integrityÂ became neck deep in the gamble of deceit which seems to be the hallmark of public life. Madam re-branding had suddenly found her self standing against the tide of public opinion as she had to peddle lies without conscience.
After every Federal Executive Council, Nigerians listened to Prof. Akunyili telling them that â€œthere is no power vacuum in Nigeria, although the president is out of the country on medical vacation and they were collectively working as a team with the vice President and part of whatÂ we are working on is to ensure that the country is moving forwardâ€.
Nigerians heard Prof. Akunyili telling them that council met and approved contract with N4 billion to install security gadgets in all our airportsâ€, Without rue she attacked the 54 eminent Nigerians who had called on underperforming President Umar Yarâ€™ AduaÂ to resign and attend to his failing health.
Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa became a master in sophistry as he used his office to obstruct the march of democracy. But pro-democracy lovers rose in unison to stage street protests in Abuja and Lagos to uphold the values and tenets of democracy.
Their goal was to tell the opportunists in corridors of power that Nigerians have had enough of their campaign of deceit on the people on whose behalf they were elected or appointed into power to serve. The emergence of the Save Nigeria Group according to Chief Jimi Agbaje was the beginning of a wake up call to the people. Chief Agbaje who is a member of the group was the governorship candidate of Democratic Peoples Alliance in Lagos State in the 2007 election.
â€œThe philosophy of this advocacy group is to make Nigerians realize thatÂ democracy and good governance does not come about by the leadership aloneâ€.Â Accordingly, â€œthe followership has a role to play an
d that role is to put the leadership on their toes, to continue to remind the leaders that they are there at the pleasure of the followership. So the followership must be watchfulâ€.
It may be difficult to know how far the SNG can go for now, but Chief Agbaje opined that the SNG is not a single issue based organisation, â€œthere are other issues for instance the issue of electoral reforms, we have the issue of the Niger- Delta, we know that we have amnesty but the amnesty is shaky, there fore if we donâ€™t do this right, we will be back to square one. We have to look at the issue of corruption; this is not going to be won over night. SNG will continue to wake people up to other aspects of bad governanceâ€.