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13 years democracy: So far, so bad

Against the backdrop of the low level development of the  nation and attendant problems, not a few Nigerians have condemned the situation. In fact, renowned preacher, Pastor Tunde Bakare, in the heat of the nationwide strike and protest over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government   on January 1, this year,  described Nigeria as  hell on earth.

Bakare blamed the failure of our economy on ‘’our bad leaders”. He noted that ours is a country so richly blessed with resources that it could be one of the leading countries in Africa and, of course, the world. It would be an understatement to say that Nigerians are going through untold hardship despite the fact that our nation is rated the number six oil- producing country in the world. It is an  indubitable fact that while the masses live in abject poverty, the leaders are living in opulence, driving exotic cars and buying mansions all over the world.

Since the nation’s independence in 1960, Nigerians have been going through untold hardship, notably  under the democratic dispensation. We can list a plethora of  problems facing the citizenry. Today, millions of graduates are roaming the streets  looking for elusive jobs. In the ’60s and ’80s, undergraduates were given jobs in companies and the civil service  even before their graduation from universities.

The most pathetic aspect of  our predicament  is that the country is still in darkness just as obtained during the military regime. Today,  please hold candle Nigerians, sorry Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc, PHCN, bring bills for  services not provided. The erratic power supply in the country has made most of the industries to shut down and relocate to Ghana, South Africa, etc.

It is saddening that the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), after it had spent billions of dollars on energy, the masses still live in darkness.

Our educational system is in shambles. It is often argued that most of our graduates cannot compete with their counterparts from other African countries, including Ghana.  Recent reports indicated that  total failure were recorded by Nigerian secondary school candidates who sat for the West African Examination Council Examination, WAEC, which brought concern to the Federal Government and other stakeholders.

The security challenges facing the country is worrisome, with almost daily bombings, especially in the Northern part of the country by suspected  Boko Haram bombers. Indeed, the serial bombings  have made it near-impossible for the country to attract foreign  investors.

The hope of Nigerians was that the 4th Republic will bring  in dividends of democracy after a long period of suffering during the military regime. In the last 13 years, the nation has had four general elections, that is 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, which produced three presidents  from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP: Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar ‘Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

Today, the nation’s economy is in a bad shape. The masses are facing a lot of challenges in terms of unemployment, food shortage, transportation, health and housing, etc.

Though the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 brought Global System for Mobile Communications, GSM, to the country to improve our communications, but at what price? There’s no gain-saying the fact that the telephone firms are ripping off Nigerians with their high charges and epilectic services.

Indeed, last month’s Edo State governorship election won by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was a testimony of the rejection of PDP that has been at the centre of affairs in the country for the past 13 years.

PDP has been described as a party inimical to the progress of democracy in the country. In his inauguration, Obasanjo promised to tackle corruption in the country, stressing that no society can achieve its full potentials if it allowed corruption to strive. But did he tackle the corruption monster? The eight years of Obasanjo caused so much pains for the masses.

The former president  increased fuel price from N20 to N75. Also, the country witnessed unprecedented total collapse of infrastructure. The Obasanjo regime spent trillions of naira on energy yet the country is still in darkness. Recall that during Obasanjo’s watch, a former minister allegedly spent N300 billion for road maintenance yet our roads are death traps.

The inauguration of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on May 29, 2007  was welcomed wholeheartedly by Nigerians, being the first time the nation would produce a graduate.

In his speech, Yar’Adua promised in his seven-point agenda to build our physical infrastructure and human capital that will make the country to move forward as a great nation, to create more jobs, lower interest rates, reduce inflation and maintain a stable exchange rate, have  comprehensive plans for mass transportation, especially rail-road development.

The  three years of Yar’ Adua from 2007-2010 achieved little, in the areas of energy, infrastructure, road and transport, health, education, agriculture and housing, etc.  After the  death  of President  Yar’ Adua on  May 5, 2010,  Dr. Goodluck Jonathan  was sworn in to take over. Jonathan  was  able to  complete the first term of  the late President Yar’ Adua. Unexpectedly Nigerians had hoped that  the  new president will turn things round, especially  when he is from the South-South zone. One of the áchievements of President Jonathan in his first term in office, was the approval of N10 billion to mark the nation’s 50th independence anniversary, which was criticised by Nigerians. This was done when the nation suffered a setback in term of decaying infrastructure, collapse in every sector of the economy, including energy, education, health, housing and transportation, with unemployment and insecurity seemingly ever present to threaten the polity.

The inauguration of Dr. Jonathan as the elected president in 2011, made him the third  president from  PDP since 1999. The then Ijaw shoeless schoolboy promised a total transformation of the country. But today, the Nigerian people are blaming themselves for electing into office.

Nigerians received the shock of their lives from the President when on January 1, 2012, he removed the fuel subsidy, which made fuel price to increase from N65 to N141 per litre. The increment of the fuel price came as a rude shock to most Nigerians, especially the Christians, who were still mourning the bombing of a Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, in which no  fewer  than 20 people, including children were killed.

Peter Ojo is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers



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