It may interest you to know that during the military regimes from 1983 to 1999, they only increased the prices of petroleum products twice. Late General Abacha did it n 1994, and used the money realized from the increase to establish the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) which provided affordable drugs across the country. General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) also increased the prices of petroleum products once and used the money realized from the increase to conduct the 1999 general elections.
The three times former president Olusegun Obasanjo increased the prices of petroleum products, what did he do with all the money realized from the increases? During the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s five years administration, he stabilized the naira at N86 to one American dollar. Since 1999 till date, the naira has not stabilized, it is hovering between N130.00 and N150.00 to one American dollar. The instability of the naira to the American dollar is having a negative effect on the importation of raw materials for industrial use. Lets us look at the security sector. Can we say that the security measure has improved in the country since 1999? In 1984, General Muhammadu Buhari arrested Mr. Nduka Irabor and Mr. Tunde Thompson both of Guardian Newspaper under Decree No. 4. They were sent to jail but the whole country condemned the action, and they were later released by the junta. Since the return to democracy in 1999, journalists are no longer sent to jail, rather they are being murdered without being given the opportunity to defend themselves. Or, have we forgotten Mr. David Agbroko of Thisday Newspaper, Mr. Bayo Ohu of the Guardian Newspaper, Mr. Edo-Ugbagwu of The Nation Newspaper and countless journalists that have been felled by assassins’ bullets? Throughout the 29 years the military had ruled this country, did we witness such incessant killings of journalists apart from Mr. Dele Giwa who died through a mysterious letter bomb? We condemn the military, can journalists say that they are happier with the present civilian regime that has made their profession an endangered profession? Immediately president Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, there was a clash between some policemen and some youths of Odi because of problems associated with crude oil exploitation. Many youths of Odi and twelve policemen died in that clash. Thus, instead of investigations to be carried out in order to find the culprits, President Obasanjo ordered soldiers to invade Odi. By this order, soldiers went into Odi and wreak havoc there. Over four thousand innocent people including women, children and the aged lost their lives for crime they didn’t commit. Houses and other property worth millions of naira were razed to ashes. As if we didn’t learn from the invasion of Odi, the some action was repeated in Zarki Biam, Benue State. It was the same issue of killing some members of the Army. Soldiers had gone there to restore peace between two warring communities. In the midst of the confrontation, some inhabitants of the community and soldiers were killed by stray bullets. For committing manslaughter against the soldiers, President Obasanjo once again ordered the solders into Zarki Biam to fish out the killers of their colleagues. So, the soldiers entered Zarki Biam and killed any human being they found. In the last count, about two thousand people were dispatched to their early graves. To add salt to injury, the corpses were doused with fuel and set ablaze by the soldiers. What a horrible way to depart the world! During that raid, many property were also burnt down. One would have thought that all that killings and wanton destructions of property would go with the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. But it was not so, as late President Umar Yar’Adua ordered another group of soldiers into Gbaramutu community in Delta State. Why were they sent this time around? They were sent to dislodge militants that were operating in the creeks. But how can militants that were operating in the creeks be found in the towns and villages? As this article is being written, Gbaramatu Community is completely destroyed beyond recognition. Many lives were wasted during that raid and Property worth unspecified sums of money were destroyed. The most painful of all the property destroyed was the magnificient palace of Gbaramatu King, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Pere Bebemibo, Ogeh Gbaran. It must be made clear that throughout the 29 years of military regimes, no military leader ever instructed soldiers into any community to destroy it. The 29 years of military rule in this country witnessed the death of Mr. Dele Giwa, Chief Alfred Rewane, Kudirat Abiola, Ken Saro- Wiwa and the Ogoni eight, which all Nigerians condemned and thought it was due to military rule. Democracy supposed to uphold human sanity and dignity but since 1999, till date, we have experienced increased in high profile killings across the country. It all started with the killing of Chief Harry Marshal, who was the PDP chairman in Rivers State. Immediately Chief Harry Marshal was killed, Chief Asiri Dikibo followed in quick succession. Then in December 23, 2001, Chief Bola Ige, a Minister of Justice and Attorney of the Federation was murdered in his Bodija home, Ibadan. Chief Dele Arojo, an accountant from Yewa Awori area of Ogun State was killed in 2003. He was the most preferred gubernatorial candidate under the PDP in 2003 before he was murdered in Lagos by unknown gunmen. The unknown gunmen that are terrorizing the nation had also snuffed out the lives of Barrister Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Abigail. Late Igwe was until his death, the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Anambra State Chapter. Did we witness such wanton killings during military regimes which the politicians are heaping all the woes of this country upon today? Chief Josse Aruku, a gubernatorial aspirant under the Advanced Congress of Democrats in Plateau State, was abducted on June 30, 2006, but later found dead on July 2, 2006, in Bossa Local Government Area of the State. Nigerians were still mourning the death of Josse Aruku when the news of the death of Engineer Funsho Williams struck them like a thunder storm. Engineer Williams was the most popular governorship candidate under the PDP in Lagos State. Nigerians had not recovered from the shock of Engineer Williams’ death when the news of the death of Dr. Ayo Daramola hit them once more on August 2006. Dr. Daramola was the PDP governorship candidate in Ekiti State. The death of Dr. Daramola was not the first politically motivated killing in Ekiti State. In 2005, the Chairman of Ado Ekiti Local Government Council, Chief Taiye Fasuba was murdered in cold blood. Early this year, Chief Dipo Dina, a popular AC governorship candidate in the 2007 elections was eliminated in the Sango area of Ogun State. Last June, Chief Paul Indogisiet Inyang was killed in a Church, in Akwa Ibom State. Did we experience such human waste during the military regimes? Democracy supposed to impact positively on the lives of the people, but Nigerians have not seen any improvement in their lives. Unemployment and high cost of living have pushed many able-bodied Nigerians both males and females in crimes such as prostitution, kidnapping, hostage taking, armed robbery, advanced fee fraud, human trafficking, drug peddling etc. Hungry Nigerians are now fully involved in crimes in order to be able to feed themselves. We did not experience such upsurge in crimes during the military regimes because the economy was not as bad as it is today. Many industries are closing down while some are relocating to our neighbouring countries due to lack of electricity to power their machinery. Motorcycles which most jobless graduates are using for commercial transportation are now being ban across the country. Did military leaders ban the use of motorcycles as a means of transportation during their administrations? They banned hawking, street trading and everything, how many jobs have the governors who are banning all these things created since 1999 till date? What have the civil leaders who call themselves “saints” and “holy people”, who are blaming the military for all the problems of this country been able to achieve since the country returned to democracy in 1999? Has the education sector improved more than what it was during military rule? The United Nations survey on universities in 2008 showed that no Nigerian university was among the best 1000 universities in the world. Also, none was among the best 50 universities in Africa, but those of Malawi, Ghana and South Africa were among them. How many houses have they built for the masses? Do Nigerians have access to potable water? How many new roads have they been able to build? Look at the Lagos – Benin road and other numerous deplorable roads across the country, which of them have they been able to fix since 1999? Have they been able to improve transportation and the bad image of the country? Civil leaders have not done anything spectacular since 1999 that will justify them in condemning the military. As things are now, Nigerians are in a dilemma as to the type of government that will improve their lives since there is no difference between military administration and civil administration in the country. The only achievement civil leaders are laying claim to, is freedom of expression. But leadership is not just about having freedom to talk, rather, it is about development and growth that enhances the standard of living of the citizenry.