A NIGERIAN living in the United States of America, USA, last year remarked that whenever he visited the Nigerian consulate office in Chicago, he was always amazed at the number of foreigners queuing to get visas to come to Nigeria. He became curious and had to find out from some of them why they wanted to visit the country which many Nigerians were leaving in droves to seek greener pastures elsewhere in Europe and America. He said he was shocked at the responses they gave him. According to him, most of the foreigners said they wanted to come to Nigeria because it is a beautiful country with lots of investment opportunities. He said he was forced to ask himself a rhetorical question: What are the foreigners seeing in Nigeria that he, and many others cannot see? He said it took him some time to realize that democracy in Nigeria offered a lot of investment opportunities in various sectors.
Like the USA-based Nigerian, many other Nigerians still find it difficult to see the opportunities which 15 years of uninterrupted democracy has brought to the country. For instance, many of those who participated in the various radio and television phone-in programmes on democracy day, were looking at democracy in terms of the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration which they off-handedly dismissed as appalling. None of them mentioned the performances of state and local governments within the period. Could this be crass ignorance or deliberate mischief? Nigeria is operating a three-tier system of government and therefore the performances of the state and local governments should also be put under searchlight during the period. Those who said Nigeria has not benefited from 15 years of democracy are economical with the truth. In some states, the second and third tiers of government have made significant impacts in the lives of their people through massive infrastructural development. Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Cross River, Rivers, Edo, Katsina, Abia, Ebonyi, Niger among others, typify some of the states where dividends of democracy are palpable.
Even at the federal level, no Nigerian can deny that the advent of democracy has brought about a revolution in mobile telecommunication, information and communication technology, road network, transportation and agriculture among others. But Nigerians like to be in a hurry all the time. They believe that the rot perpetrated by the military in more than 40 years of misrule should be fixed in 15 years. Such expectation is unrealistic. However, nobody is denying the fact that democracy in Nigeria is facing a lot challenges. Among such challenges are Boko Haram insurgency, corruption, unemployment, rising crime rate, poverty, political intolerance, epileptic electricity supply, among others. The Jonathan administration is trying its best to tackle these challenges but the efforts so far are like drops in an ocean. It needs the cooperation and encouragement of all through constructive criticisms to succeed and not outright condemnation. In our cover story for this week, we have decided to focus on 15 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria and determine whether from the facts available, democracy has any future in Nigeria. We strongly believe that the survival of democracy in the country is the responsibility of all Nigerians. As usual, Olu Ojewale, the general editor and our in-house analyst, crafted the story entitled “Which Way for Nigeria’s Democracy?” Happy Democracy Day in arrears.
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— Jun. 9, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT