The way democracy is being practiced since 1999 shows that democracy is worse than military government in this country. This is so because policies and decisions are taken against the wishes and aspirations of the masses. From the three tiers of governments, policies are made without considering the negative effects they will have on the masses. All the various policies introduced since 1999 which the masses resisted vehemently were implemented by the governments as if the country is under a military regime.
When military governments take actions that are contrary to the aspirations and wishes of the masses, it is understandable and such actions can be condoled by the masses because military officers are not elected and are not accountable to anybody. It is however worrisome when certain decisions and policies which are injurious to the people are taken by elected officials who supposed to protect the interest of the masses. Since the country returned to democracy in 1999, no policies or laws have been enacted to promote the socio-economy of the ordinary people of this country.
First, the eight years of the administration of former president Ousegun Obasanjo witnessed the increase in the prices of petroleum products three times without commensurate development with the money realised from the increases. Before ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, who doubled as petroleum minister left office in 2007, he had increased the prices of kerosene, petrol and diesel from
N9:00 to N125:00,
N11:00 to N70:00 and N10:00 to N150 respectively against the wishes of
President Goodluck Jonathan, in January this year increased the price of petrol from N65:00 to N141:00 but later reviewed it downward to N97:00 due to resistance from the masses, civil society groups, the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress etc. With the increase made by President Goodluck Jonathan early this year, the various civilian administrations that have led the country for only 23 years had increased the prices of petroleum products four times while the military that had led this country for a whooping 29 years which we tagged as oppressive, repressive and insensitive, increased the prices of these products only three times!
Meanwhile, Nigerians objected to the amendment of the 1999 Constitution by the members of the National Assembly because they want the members of the State Assemblies and National Assembly to be on part-time, have their salaries and allowances reduced to equate those of civil servants. Despite the masses’ objection to the amendment of the 1999 Constitution by the members of the National Assembly, they vehemently refused to listen to the people and went ahead with the amendment. It is only military regimes that don’t listen to the masses because they are not voted for but in democratic governments where the votes count, the people’s voice must be heeded.
Under this democratic government, the houses of the poor are being demolished across the country without the victims being relocated to other houses rather they are left to sleep in the rains and sun. Traders are being chased away from every nooks and crannies of most cities in the country without being provided alternative places to carry out their trade. It is only in Nigeria this type of abnormalities can happen. The military that led the country for 29 years didn’t ban the use of motorcycles for commercial transportation because they knew the important role they are playing in the economy. But today, many state governors have banned the use of motorcycles for commercial transportation. The two reasons they gave for the ban are not tenable. They said motorcycles are used to perpetrate crimes and that they are also prone to accidents. This is ridiculous because the greatest criminals in the country are the governors and other political office holders who are stealing the wealth of the people. Demonising commercial motorcyclists is a case of calling the dog a bad name in order to hang it.
The criminals are the governors and other political office holders who are stealing hundred of billions of naira but are now the ones calling innocent commercial motorcyclists who are merely looking for their daily bread criminals! Many of the governors have exotic hotels and palatial buildings all over the world. Various kinds of cars are packed in their compounds. The latest madness in the country today is the competition among the governors on the acquisition of private jets. President Barack Obama of America doesn’t have a private jet. The question many Nigerians are asking is, where did the governors get the money with which they are buying exotic cars and private jets? Is it their salaries and allowances they are using to buy them? The greatest criminals are elected official who diverts the wealth of the people for personal use!
The other reason the governors gave for banning motorcycles is that they are prone to accidents. Some governors asked Nigerians to visit Orthopaedic hospitals across the country and see the huge numbers of victims of motorcycle accidents. We know that accidents are not peculiar to motorcycles alone. Aircrafts, vehicles, ships etc all get involved in accidents. Just last June, Dana Aircraft crashed at Iju, in Lagos, killing all the 153 people on board. How about Bellview, Sosoloso, ADC aircrafts that crashed at various times, did the governors who are banning motorcycles ban aircrafts because they get involved in air crashes? Or, have they banned vehicles and ships because they also get involved in accidents? Dababa Suntai, the Governor of Taraba State was involved in a plane crash recently, if he was involved in a motorcycle accident, the state government would have banned motorcycles by now.
We all know the genesis of the use of motorcycles for transportation in this country. It all began when taxi fares became exorbitant and the masses resorted to the use of motorcycles as the alternative means of transportation. Another reason why motorcycles became a means of transportation was because of heavy traffic jam being experienced in major cities. Thus, Nigerians took to motorcycle transportation so as to beat traffic jams in order to get to their destinations on time. Also, commercial buses that ply our roads don’t enter the streets so people use motorcycles to be able to go into the streets. In addition to that, because of unemployment, many Nigerians took up motorcycle transportation in order to be able to feed their families.
During the military era, Mr. Nduka Irabor and Mr. Tunde Thompson, both of The Guardian Newspaper were prosecuted and jailed under Decree 4 of 1984 but today, journalists have no opportunity of defending themselves in the court rather, they are being killed in cool blood. We all know the numbers of journalists that have been murdered under questionable circumstances since 1999. Mr. David Agbroko of Thisday Newspaper, Mr. Bayo Ohu of The Guardian Newspaper, Mr. Edo-Ugbagwu of The Nation Newspaper just to mention a few and other countless journalists that have been murderd! The 29 years the military ruled this country, did we witness such incessant killings of journalists apart from Mr. Dele Giwa who was killed through a mysterious letter bomb? We condemned the military then, can journalists say they are happier with this democracy that has made their profession an endangered one?
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo ordered soldiers to invade Odi because there was a clash between some policemen and some Odi youths in which there was lost of lives from both parties. The invasion of Odi led to the death of over four thousand people while property worth millions of naira was burnt to ashes. Also, President Obasanjo sent soldiers into Zaki Biam who killed about two thousand people! Late president Umaru Yar’Adua was also guilty of the wanton waste of human lives as he sent soldiers into Gbaramutu community in Delta State to dislodge militants that were operating in the creeks. At the time the soldiers departed Gbaramutu, many bodies laid motionless on the streets while property worth huge sums of money including the magnificent palace of Gbaramutu King, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Pere Bebemibo, Ogeh Gbara was razed to ashes. No military leader ever ordered soldiers to invade any community.
Some governors have vowed to prosecute landlords who don’t paint their houses regularly and plant flowers in their compounds. If the concerned governors know that beautification of the houses is good, why can’t they take up the responsible? Is it the poor landlords whose pensions are not paid that will paint their houses regularly and plant flowers in their compounds?
The government we have in the country today is not democracy but tyranny because in democracy, power belongs to the people and the voice of the people is heeded. Since the return of democracy in 1999, none of the demands of the masses has been granted. We thought that military government was the worst type of government but today the military has been vindicated because what we have now is worst than a military government!