Nigeria became a democratic Nation on 29th May, 1999 when the Military handed over power to an elected civilian government though President Buhari led government declared June 12 to be the new Democracy Day in 2019. This was done to commemorate the democratic election of MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993 which has been declared as the most transparent, free and fair election in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. An argument has always been in place on whether or not this our dear country is truly practicing DEMOCRACY. Of course, there are myriads of flaws that characterized the practice of our democracy which tends to make one agree that our democracy is merely theoretical but we must with all honesty, admit that we are in a democratic regime.
It is however, established that the practice of democracy in our country Nigeria is much doubted with a lot of proves that we collectively have a lot to do in enhancing the standard of our democracy. Our political leaders as well as the masses have a role to play in order to change the current trend. We are in a situation where the masses just fold their hands and expect that only the political leaders can do something about our democracy, hence, we are experiencing a colossal failure. On the other hand, when the political leaders stand before the masses and challenge them unto doing something for the greater good of the country without first taking up the challenge themselves, then our story will remain the same with no change. This is a call on Nigerian populace – both leaders and the general masses to play their role in ensuring that our democracy experience the development expected.
Democracy as a concept is centered on people. It has been defined by a lot of scholars and the common thing that bind these definitions together is the emphasis democracy has on people. The commonest and simplest way democracy is referred to “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Among all other definitions, the emphasis as stated above has been on equal rights among the people, freedom of expression by the people, delegation of authority on some few as elected by the masses. These are what distinct DEMOCRACY from dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, aristocracies and the likes in which the people have little or no say as regards who rule them or how they are being ruled.
The emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-rufai of Kaduna State on 29th May, 2015 was well celebrated as they seem to be the beacon of hope for our failing democracy. Today marked the 6th year and 14 days in office as the hope keep sinking.
On 10th June 2015, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State Mal. Nasir Ahmed El-rufai reduced ministries from 19 to 13 and commissioners from 24 to 13 in order to cut the cost of governance in the State which in the process renders many civil servants jobless.
On 18th January 2016, the Kaduna State government flagged off a School feeding program which about Ten billion naira (10b) was earmarked and spent as part of the state highest priority in child education. This contradicted the earlier claim by the state government in cutting the cost of governance as the program could not be sustained but funds allocated for the program if was channeled to developmental project would had gone a long way in constructing, renovating and furnishing schools for good atmospheric learning condition of pupils in the State.
On 18th November 2017, Kaduna State Government sacked 21,000 primary school teachers on the basis that they failed primary four (4) competency test. It is a known fact that the essence of competency test or examination conducted on civil/public servants – teachers inclusively is to generally appraise them and determine whether or not they are eligible for promotion. Failure to pass an examination is not a ground to determine whether or not they should be sacked.
Recently in Kaduna State, the State Governor ordered for the sack of over 4,000 Local Government workers and some civil servants in the state on the basis that majority of them are redundant and not developing themselves. His action prompted the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to stage a 3 days protest/strike against the decision. In their claim, the Governor contracted their office responsibilities to non-indigenes which render some of the workers redundant. They further stated that he didn’t follow the due process of disengagement.
Mal. El-rufa’i in his response stated that he was the first governor in the whole federation that implemented the new minimum wage and his government is spending over 90% from FAAC on salaries of it’s civil servants monthly. He further buttressed that the disengagement did not just stop at civil servants but also with his political appointees.
Although the Governor in trying to give Kaduna State a new face introduced #KadunaUrbanRenewalProjects whereby some Capital and Developmental Project are ongoing in the state a lot of controversies are in place where some call it a misplaced priority because Capital and Developmental Projects can’t supersede Human Development Projects as the latter could have come first.
There is a purported rumor of hiking school fees in some government secondary schools and tertiary institutions owned by the state Government to 500% which left students on the street of Kaduna protesting for days. It has generated a lot of issues in the State. The state government in their claim stated that they have been spending huge amount of money as salary of staffs and overhead and also carrying out capital projects in these institutions but gain nothing as compared to what they spend hence, the need to increase the pupils/students fees.
As we all know, like any other right, EDUCATION too is a right not a privilege and the current decision by the state government will temper on many people’s right to acquire it.
For a full practice of democracy; Equity, Justice and Fairness to the people should come first! This is not really the case here. I call on the state Governor to reconsider some of his policies and reintroduce people’s oriented policies that will yield dividends of democracy in the state. It’s not just about what people gain from the government but also about what people can do for the government. It is expected that in a democratic government like Nigeria, the people should be engaged in meaningful, purposeful and productive discourses, dialogues and other activities that bring about individual and societal developments and this depend on the government readiness to engage the masses.
HAPPY DEMOCRACY DAY
Comrade Caleb Bala Magaji