Law and Order

Nigeria: May 29 – Their Democracy Day

MAY 29, 2009 is supposed to be a day that Nigerians both at home and abroad will celebrate a decade of successive democratically elected administrations, a day to be celebrated because in itself it is supposed to end the pains and hardship of a betrothed citizen full of anxiety and expectation.

Democracy Day as it is called, is meant to be a day that is worthy of note, a day of celebration because it commemorates the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took office as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after 16 years of Military rule.

However, instead of celebrating 10 years of uninterrupted democratic governance which many patriots, over the years, fought and won to enthrone even by laying down their lives, while others suffered incarcerations and untold hardships, Nigerians have nothing to celebrate.

While it is true that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary celebrate what they call “Democracy Day”, the entire masses see the day as a day the three tiers of government mark their success in plunging the entire citizens into more hardship, suffering and agony.

We cannot celebrate a day which marks 10 years of human wrongs. We cannot celebrate a government that has no focus and no plans for the timid society. We cannot celebrate when the poor are suffering, and living in perpetual state of decay. How does one celebrate democracy when, while the poor think about how to get the next meal to sustain them to the next minute, some group of persons are thinking of how to amass wealth and others thinking of buying fleet of cars?

Nigerians cannot celebrate when human rights record remain poor and officials at all levels continue to commit serious abuses. A country where security forces commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls with impunity, where prisons are overcrowded, where 40 percent of complaints received by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) relate to torture and extra judicial killings by the Nigeria Police and other individuals and where a whole Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige was murdered, cannot be celebrated. Nobody expects celebration when lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria face legal challenge not experienced by non-LGTB residents.

Who expects people living with HIV/AIDS to celebrate when discrimination against them is widespread and HIV/AIDS is blamed on immoral conducts and persons living with HIV/AIDS are often refused healthcare or lose their jobs?

As the government marks this year’s “Democracy Day”, it should be noted that the masses are not happy and cannot join in celebrating in a nation where there is outright hunger and starvation, an economy where eventually everything is rising up daily, the educational system is in a shamble, a country where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

As long as Nigerians continue to wallow in abject poverty and grave human rights abuses and as the nation continues to experience a rape of its democracy and unrest in the Niger-Delta, May 29 tagged Democracy Day will continue to be for those in Aso Rock, state government houses and their cronies.

Mr. Olugbenga, a student, writes from OAU, Ile-Ife.{linkr:related;keywords:nigeria;limit:5;title:Related Articles}

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