History would not forget the 1st of October, 1960, when Nigeria escaped the hands of colonial folks and gained her independence. She has since then been ruled by military heads until May 29, 1999 when she assumed democratic power. This happened sequel to the installation of Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired military man as the elected president of the country. May 29 had since then been celebrated as her democracy day. But, in 2019, the president of Nigeria diversified the song and declared June 12 as the new democracy day.
The declaration of June 12 by the president can be traced back to the same date in 1993 when people rushed out in millions to vote for the candidate of their choice – a politician, business man and philanthropist – Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola who the then military denied the seat of power and later died in the army custody the day he was said to be released.
It was a great move people applauded the president on; for keeping the memory of the great Democrat in the heart of Nigerians.
Meanwhile, clamours have filled the air of Nigeria that the current regime which Muhammadu Buhari (Retd) is steering its wheel lacks the ingredients of true democracy.
What are the ingredients of true democracy?
Freedom of Speech: A recent arrest of a journalist ordered by the minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed is a show of threat to the country’s democracy. The Kwara state based journalist, who was said to have recited a poem of an air that seemed critical to the minister, was arrested alongside members of his family, violating his right of speech. The detainment of a former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, for leading a protest for the resignation of the president is another proof of stepping on human rights of freedom to speak.
Respect for the Rule of Law: Even after the High court had ordered the release of the leader of Shiite, Ibraheem Yakoub El Zakzaky, the federal government refused to abide by the court rule and held him in incarceration even while his health was fading. All letters and protests made by the Shiites and Human rights organizations ended futilely. Another instance is of the former National Security Adviser alleged of diverting the funds budgeted against terrorism, Sambo Dasuki which had been granted bail at least seven times by different courts in the country until later released.
Freedom of the Press: The chase of eighty reporters from covering the Aso Villa by the special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina portrays nothing but a slap on democracy. Apart from being stepping on the freedom of the press, it’s even against humanity.
Strengthened Legislation: Of the Senates Nigerians have had in the past, the ninth Senate seems to be the most weakened. A statement by the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan that ran over the air months ago saying ‘everything’ coming from the executive arm will be considered and approved, is also a proof of dying democracy. What essence is of the legislative arm if they stand under the shade of the executive and takes order from them? A failed legislation is a failed democracy.
A lot of allegations have been placed on the regime since its assumption of office in 2015, for acting against the democracy it was elected to protect. Even as a finger of unlawful detainment is cut, it wears another of ignoring court rules. Democracy is now a goal.
Happy Democracy Day, Nigeria!
© Rasheed Ibraheem Akande
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