Celebrating the Nigeria Democracy: A story of honey and bitterness
By Rahaman Onike
The nation’s democracy day as being marked every May 29 is a period for celebration and equally a moment for national re-appraisal. By this token, one needs to reflect on the performance of the present administration of President Muhammed Buhari after a year that the All Progressives Congress, APC, party took over power at the centre.
It was not a gain saying that the nation’s sickly democracy is being revived and rejuvenated by President Muhammed Buhari since he assumed office a year ago. Even with his snail-like approach to governance, the President still enjoys public confidence and goodwill based on his untainted integrity.
Coincidentally, the global economic meltdown has worsen the situation as the nation’s GDP, per capital income and other index of economic growth and development have become debilitated. Despite these undaunted challenges, Buhari is steadfast in his quest to revamp the economy.
A year into the tenure of the present administration, there are reasons for people to groan. There can be no denial of the fact that the poverty and unemployment rates beyond statistical data visibly hurt our collective psyche as a nation.
President Buhari might not be the one to bear the blame for irregularities in workers’ salary payment by many state governors, but the aftermath effect is enormous on the social stability and security of the nation.
If prioritisation of salary payment will bring permanent solution, I think the government needs to do something urgently in this regard. Indeed, workers are suffering deprivation as a result of backlog of salary arrears. The situation has become so worrisome that an average worker has become puaperized. With the current trend, families of an average public servants have become disorganized due to harsh effects of want.
As part of my assessment of the government of the day, we owes Buhari an applause for firmness in handling the padding of budget by members of the National Assembly. If Mr President had compromised his stance, huge sum would have been lost by the nation to corrupt enrichment of the legislators. A lot still need to be done for successful implementation of the budget otherwise the hope of people for voting for change would have become dashed.
Assuming by chance the thievish Senators had succeeded in cajoling the President to assent the padded budget, probably the country would have returned to heyday when corruption is regarded as legal.
Fundamentally, the present administration had done well in the last one year to redeem the country’s battered image abroad. Certainly, Nigeria is regaining its lost glory among comity of nations.
Now, the government of the day has put the nation on the right track and glorious path with his strategic policies of cutting cost of governance and blocking of leakages in the country ‘s expenditure profile.
In my assessment of the current administration’s score card in the last one year, it is not a gain saying that president Muhammed Buhari has made an indelible impact in wagging war against corruption.
From the media reports, the dividend of Buhari’s anti-corruption posture will form the core of fund which will be used for the implementation of 2016 budget.
Of equal interest is the attitude of government to education finance. Since 1999 till date, none of the past administration had committed up till 26 percent UNESCO benchmark of the budgetary allocation to education. Specifically, from 1999 to 2013, out of total budget of 35.133 trillion naira, education only took 3.128 trillion indicating 8.28 percent of the national budget.
The vision of government towards the eradication of ignorance and illiteracy will be an illusion except budgetary allocation to education is drastically increased as we are matching into second year of the present administration.
Again, the success recorded so far by the Nigeria military in quenching the insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country is a major landmark of one year of the Buhari administration.
Within a year, a lot of people that were previously displaced have returned home and re-aligned with their families. Of course, business activities are gradually taking shape in the areas that were hitherto held in captivity by Boko Haram insurgents.
Also, the ongoing effort and strategic plan to diversify the economy from its current oil dependent to agriculture is a good initiative of the present government. It is against this background that I am raising a poser that how soon would Nigerians begin to reap the direct impacts of democracy.
Until the government comes up with policy and programmes that will have direct impacts on standard of living of Nigerians, every democracy day will be a moment for lamentation and groaning no matter the credibility and good intention of people in government.
Onike, an author, public administrator and policy analyst writes from Oyo, Oyo State.