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*By Ussiju Medaner*

*( Published in the Peoples Daily Newspaper, Thursday Guest Column, 17th, August 2023)*

The Administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is still young, yet, we have begun counting days and months; expectations are high and Nigerians are not interested in recognising that there is a need for budding time for every policy to materialise into projected results. It is however understandable that our people want to see results without minding the process, and yet, we have altogether failed to do our part in the bargain to collectively develop our nation. We are doing nothing, and even worse, we are doing all things to contribute to the woes of the national systems, while expecting the government to perform miracles.

After 100 days in office, analysing the actions, reactions and successes and challenges of the Administration would be narrowed to addressing what has become of our democracy and democratic practices before and more importantly in the past 100 days. The period is rather too short to address physical achievements of the Administration, though there are policy directions and acceptance and counter-arguments from the side of praises and of criticism as expected. The policies apparently are not yet reaping the expected results, but economists within and outside the country are full of praise for the policies and are projecting a greater future based on the economy and the country on the basis of the policy directions and decisions. But what is worth considering at this point in time is what has become of us and the democracy we practice.

Why have we found it difficult to collectively stand behind the fuel subsidy removal; a policy that was promised by all major aspirants during the election campaign and would nonetheless still be activated regardless of who won? The answer is simple, the politics we play and the interpretation of the freedom democracy offers us, is anti developmental, and at its best destructive to our collective aspirations.

Nigeria’s problem is the same as the African problem. We hated the past military rule; we adore democracy and currently, we are all over the continent about to go to war to defend democracy in Niger Republic. What actually is the democracy we are defending? Is it the same democracy we abuse all day? The democracy that presents us the avenue to wrongly construe our freedom and abuse all the tenets of the rule of law and get away with it?

All of us, from all angles, are working against the progress of the country; all elements; the party element, the opposition element, and the societal element. The opposition would go to all lengths to destroy the system as it does not favour it; destroy everything, bring down the roof, hurt the system and spread the fire that burns down the country. The opposition would stop at nothing to pull down the systems to favour their grand goals. Just in the last few days we have witnessed the grand orchestration of attacks against the judiciary, mounting of billboards and banners across the country, undermining the capacity of the judiciary to dispense justice in the ongoing presidential litigation. This is an assault on our national outlook but we don’t care as long as it serves some self determined purpose, yet, when the country is set back on the basis of the acts we put out, we lament claiming to be victims.
The ruling party is not any better; rather than lining up behind the president to achieve his projections for the country, we are already busy setting agendas for 2027, positioning ourselves for who will and will not do what in the next dispensation. Internal rancour instead of unity, is the order of the day. How can the president succeed and how are we building a working country on the back of this?

The citizens and the society are even worse; while it appears they are at the receiving end, the reality is that they are in the position to influence more if they play their cards better. Instead of performing their roles in the development of the country, they have reduced themselves to an attack machine against their own nation and all its systems.

The incidents of abuse of democracy in Nigeria, particularly done by the citizens, have been steeply on the rise over time. The citizens have more or less translated democracy to freedom to churn out anything and say whatever they imagine would serve their imaginative desires and getting away with it. On the back of freedom offered by the same democracy, we allow a culture of unmonitored and unaccountable information and opinion around contentious and hot-button social and political issues. We created an ecosystem of false and untrustworthy information all across the media space, diminishing target individuals and state institutions. We are now at the point where everyone becomes vulnerable to malignant actors for whatever reasons. We have exchanged for all our sanity and the beauty of democracy, loss of informed, accurate, and trusted information.

Democracy is withering across Nigeria by the very acts of the abuses of the system; all social media platforms where the gains of democracy should be highlighted have been turned into warfare zones where propaganda, and unfounded lies are being disseminated to disparage individuals, heat up the system and score cheap and destructive political goals at the expense of perceived oppositions and national interests.

We ran the entire eight years of the Muhammadu Buhari administration on the non-relentless saturation of the media with abuses against the government, insulting the president, castigating the government and ridiculing the system beyond a healthy, reasonable boundary of criticism. Every Jack and Harry is allowed a space to share personal unfounded information without control. We ended up at the point where the entire national system is heated up on a daily basis with yet another lie and propaganda, until the only thing that preoccupies us as a people is managing media utterances, and returning to manage the next waves of utterances.

When we spent close to two years spreading, believing and unbelieving the truth of a dead and clone president; when elder statesmen who should be leading real discussions on national development are on media giving support to such an unfounded truth, and the majority of the youths across the country are literally diverted to the discussion and spreading the same lie, because there is freedom, what becomes of democracy? Aren’t we gradually eroding the gains and acceptability of the democratic intentions of the founders of democracy?

The 2023 elections seemingly did not bring any positives to Nigeria and Nigerians because we would not allow ourselves to see any good out of the outing; rather, we chose and implemented the spreading of a blatant lie of a stolen election and stolen mandate. And we have spent the greater part of the last 100 days building ground to discredit the election; we have made and are still making all efforts to diminish the judiciary, create and spread lies of a corrupt judiciary sold out to do the billing of the executive.

What do we gain from these? A society that hates democracy; a people who continually conclude democracy is not good enough and a perception that other forms of government could be better. Or why else do you think a sizable number of Nigerians believe we should allow the Nigeriens to decide what they want, if not because they discretely would support the same if it happens in Nigeria because we have bastardised democracy to the point that we would prefer alternatives.

The Niger Republic issue is very dicey; as much as we must defend democracy at all cost on our continent and region, it is definitely important that, as a country, we go beyond the emotional to reality of the fact as they affect our national existence before every other considerations. Of a war or stringent action against Niger, what do we stand to gain or lose from it? Yes, we are a power to reckon with in the world and Africa and that is even a stronger reason for us to act like what we are. Taking a look at the great world powers, the US and others, they hardly go into wars that do not benefit them. Why were the western powers not in Haiti? Why were they in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya? Because they can point to what it is in the wars for them. There is nothing in Haiti to fight for, so they weren’t there. It is not wickedness as those naive on foreign policy matters may think, but a part of the national interest of state actors and their international policies. What do we gain from upsetting the peace of the West African region at a period that insurgency is already invading us like rampaging locus? Nothing!

What do we lose? Everything; an attack on the country will drive refugees back to us in droves, and we will never be able to reject them because the same big brother stick we whipped to attack will mandate us to accept them. How do we expect the northern states already grasping with insecurity and displaced citizens to cope with that? What would become of the capacity of the insurgents in the troubled zone during the war? Something to worry about.

It is time we all recognised that there is rarely any demarcation between leadership and followership. Leadership is followership and followership is leadership. One cannot exist without the other.

The leadership needs to satisfy the anticipations of the followers to enjoy leading and the followers must be in position to offer positive support and criticism of policies to make the leaders they want. As of today, the summary of the challenge in Niger is the same as what we are going through in our country. The people are against their leaders’ continuing subservience to France and would literally go against any leader that does so regardless of performance. The Nigeriens appear to support the coupists because it seems they are promising to offer the people what they wanted; a break away from France. It doesn’t matter if the coupists themselves meant to do that. The lesson is that, the people can and would always turn against the government that appears to sway away from satisfying their needs In the next 100 days, we should be watching out for results of key policies from the Administration. We should also be looking at improved citizens’ satisfactions with government policy and policy direction. Hopefully, we will see that, but now, it would be wrong for anyone to say the current Administration has failed even though we have all failed Nigerians.




  1. Hmz

    August 18, 2023 at 11:50 am

    You mean IMF and World bank? they only spell doom for a nation,anytime they applaud the economic development of a nation,the people of that must be suffering, and Government is implementing their agenda,like subsidy removal which is telling on the masses

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