The All Progressives Congress (APC) has congratulated Nigerians on the 2018 Democracy Day celebration.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC boasted of a stronger democracy and polity 19 years after returning to democratic rule.
It said Nigeria has conducted successive elections and has continually improved on the transparency and credibility of the electoral systems.
While stating that military rule is now distant memory in Nigeria, it called on Nigerians to work collectively to improve democracy “because regardless of its imperfections, democracy remains the best form of government that can best serve the interest of our people.”
It pledged commitment to address the country’s current challenges, which find expression in the economy and security. It also urged all Nigerians to continue to pray and support the current administration’s effort to build a peaceful and greater nation.
But the Social Democratic Party (SDP) disagrees with such optimism. It said 19 years of democratic rule should have called for “drum-beating and dancing, but Nigeria’s experience rather calls for finger-biting over failed expectations”.
It said Nigeria still wallows within the confines of a country with potentials for greatness, instead of living the reality of its potentials.
According to a statement by its National Secretary, Shehu Gabam, the SDP said the fight against corruption retains its position “in the rhetoric of successive governments”.
It said Nigeria suffers from other ailments such as poor leadership, devaluation of the currency from N90/$1 to N360/$1, collapse of the economy – as most privatised industries are comatose or dead – high rate of unemployment and under-employment – as graduates are encouraged to engage in low-paying menial jobs or low-value trade in the name of entrepreneurship.
It said other ailments include: “division of the country along ethnic, regional and sectarian lines; incessant killings by bandits and insurgents, such that the lives of Nigerians now seem worthless; abuse of human rights, especially by security agencies; lack of governance and general insecurity in rural areas and the spread of despondency among the people, to the point that they have begun to lose faith in the country and rather call for fragmentation of Nigeria along regional lines”.
“In spite of this situation, we wish to congratulate Nigerians because in the last 19 years, there has been a seamless transition of government from one administration and even party to another in tandem with the spirit of ‘demoskratos’, the Greek-word origin of democracy, which means the power of the people,” it said.
With the 2019 elections around the corner, the party stressed the need to re-invent the wheel of governance in Nigeria, “as the current wheel is not driving the nation to the Promised Land”.
In a congratulatory message, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) stated that democracy day reminds Nigerians of their commitment to building a just society.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement lamented that those elected to serve as democratic leaders have not only turned around to serve themselves but continue to exploit every given opportunity to turn the Nigerians into paupers.
“Beside the frequent unlawful dipping of fingers into the public till, everything including salaries, pensions, perquisites, ways and means are skewed in their favour to the exclusion of workers.
“For us in the labour movement, a democracy that does not allocate resources in such a manner that ensures equity, justice and sustained national development or cohesion is beggarly.
“We reason that Nigerian workers are frequently turned into canon fodder by the Nigerian political elite in their high stakes political games and mindless scramble for the commonwealth,” he said.
Mr Wabba also decried the escalating costs of living, devaluation of the Naira, general hardship in the land and “the fact that a Nigerian worker is still forced to survive on N18,000 as minimum wage with not a few states owing backlog of salaries and pensions”.
He said whiile pensioners wallow in misery and unimaginable suffering, the members of the political elite led by state governors as a matter of law and policy, take in advance whopping severance packages to which they are not entitled in the first place.
“Our schools and health facilities have become sorry relics of what they used to be in the first decade post-independence.
“The spate of killings, general wave of violence and insecurity across the country further traumatise the hapless citizenry.
“In spite of the great effort by the Buhari administration to fight corruption, corruption keeps fighting back more viciously.
“While, unarguably, our electoral processes are improving by the day, the same cannot be said of elections conducted by State Electoral Commissions. Worse still, we are worried by the political intolerance of governors and their philistinal behaviour, completely at variance with what obtains at the centre,” he said.
He challenged Nigerian workers to seek to rebuild an enduring political platform “that would offer the fullest essence to our age-long struggle for a society where no one is oppressed, cheated, excluded, isolated or left behind”.
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, also congratated Nigerians. He said the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral process and ability of government to be accountable to the people are the minimum requirements to appreciate the sacrifices of those who gave their all for the enthronement of democracy in the country.
In a statement he signed, Mr Abubakar, a presidential aspirant, called on all Nigerians to “spare some time to reflect and to mourn all those murdered in the on-going needless killings across our dear country”.
He decried the continuing murderous rampage of criminal elements across the country “but especially in Borno and Yobe, and the Benue River Valley, stretching from Adamawa through Taraba to the confluence of Kogi and Benue, and including Nasarawa, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, and Zamfara. Others have been killed by armed robbers, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other marauding bandits”.
He made reference to a letter he sent to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria recently on these killings where he explained that only the government can stop these senseless killings if Nigeria is to “avoid major and further damage to the fabric of its fragile unity”.
He said the popular clamour amongst Nigerians is the need to make government more responsive and responsible.
“As the nation goes through a cycle of elections in the coming months, it is important that the integrity of the electoral process is sacrosanct with guarantees of free and fair election. Democracy is by itself a self-correcting concept, but only if there is guarantee of credibility in the electoral process.
“We have mourned Nigerian souls to terror attacks enough for us to learn that it is insufficient that the Federal Government has exclusive statutory mandate in providing security for our people.
“Our economy has become too exposed to the vagaries of global oil prices for us not to decipher that we need to invest massively in infrastructure and liberalise the economy to create fresh opportunities for the people. Our communities and associations have become so divided and apart that we cannot even begin to confront the most basic of our challenges when we don’t share a mutual sense of belonging.
“These are some of the challenges that we must begin to re-evaluate their manifestation, and the significance of our celebration of democracy today should mean that we employ the broadmindedness and participatory notion of democracy in seeking solutions to them,” he said.
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