Editorial: Will Nigeria return to democracy in 2023?

As you must have heard, the DSS is still holding the convener of RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore after he met his bail conditions and was declared fit to be released by his kidnappers. The secret police decision to still hold Sowore, is perhaps, the clearest indication that Nigeria is back to a full-time dictatorship where those who talk simply disappeared and when courts issue bail orders, they are fragrantly disobeyed.

It has happened before, in the case of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who has been held in detention despite all court orders for his release. Other governors like the El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State have copied from the Federal Government’s playbook, deploying institutions of the state to harass citizens, including journalists like Agba Jalingo. Nigerians should be hopeful that by 2023, something to cheer them up will surface. However, it is going to be long before it gets better.

President Buhari rode to power in 2015 on the premise that his administration will bring the necessary changes; accountability, rule of law, end corruption and cut down on the cost of governance. These promises seem more like decisions in disguise to escalate the situation – those who dare ask for accountability are arrested, rule of law are disobeyed at will, cost of governance has skyrocketed astronomically while corruption now wears a face. Nigerians traded a dog for a lion who does not care as long as his pride eat to their fill. The patients took over the pharmacy.

All the promises made by the president have been fulfilled but not in the way that Nigerians expected them. For instance, the rule of law is mouthed when it is convenient for those in Aso Rock to use it to intimidate the rest of the country. Accountability? Don’t go there. Media houses and social media users who earned praises for their patriotic acts of holding the then PDP government to account from the then opposition APC have presently become one of the greatest threats to the ruling party, even above growing unemployment, insecurity and general economic downturn, that the government has devoted more time into threatening traditional media houses and social media users than it is finding solutions to widening poverty gaps – the present government lacks direction. Yet it does not want to be told so.

Nigerians also seem to be divided on the treatment that Sowore and Agba Jalingo are getting. To some, they helped to bring Buhari to power so they are paying dearly for helping bring dictatorship on Nigerians. While it is true that the Sowore’s of this world played active roles in the emergence of Buhari as president, it should not be the reason for the support of whatever they are getting from the government. It is also their inalienable rights to vote whomever they deemed fit. Tyrants all over the world start from their friends before devouring every other person that challenges their tyranny. Nigerians should be mindful of what they are enabling. No one knows who is next.

While we are at it, it is clear that this so-called democracy is not in any way working. At best, what we are practising is a fake version of democracy where all organs of government are tilted to please the president or governor as the case may be.

Just like every other thing, Nigerians picked the federal system of governance from the United States of America and implemented it half-way, same way religion which helped to advance society in other climes has become one of the barriers to development in Nigeria.

If there is one take away from the Buhari’s presidency, it is the ease with the constitution can be suspended with no repercussion. It is hoped that after Buhari is done in 2023, Nigeria can return to democracy or a semblance of it where people are not kidnapped for speaking up against bad governance; where rule of law rules supreme and not rule of presidential might; where all citizens have equal opportunity and aspirations.

If what we currently practice is a democracy, it will not take us anywhere. Rather, we will continue to be a laughing stock among the committee of nations. This pseudo-democracy will quicken our doom if we don’t act fast.

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