Again, the drums are being rolled out, the politicians chest-thumping and in self-glorification as praise singers reel out their achievements either real or imaginary. This has been the practice in the last 16years to mark democracy day. It is a day, Nigeria returned to civil democratic governance after years of inglorious military rule. Today, the global community joins Nigerians in commemorating this democracy day which happens to be the first time in the democratic Nigeria history that an opposition party will unseat a ruling government.
Unarguably, it has been a tortuous and painful progress in the past 16 years of democratization in the country, the citizenry are daily yearning for the dividends of democracy which they crave for, but this has become elusive. It has been years of reckless acquisition of wealth and oil wells by the political class at the expense of the state. Till date, most state governments have refused to pay workers salaries for months, while huge debts of over $62billion cripple activities. Meanwhile, millions of Nigerians are languishing in abject poverty and joblessness. The situation is so pathetic that even those with jobs find it difficult to feed their families.
With the above scenario, there are high expectations by Nigerians at the dawn of the new found democracy led by General Muhammadu Buhari. Already people see him as the long awaited Messiah. But the truism in this belief would be known in the near future.
Suffice it to say that in the 16 years when the outgoing party was in control, Nigerians expected to see functional and uninterrupted power supply and other social services, a well-equipped and working health centres, schools, roads and so on, but these expectations have, at best, remained forlorn dream. The good governance Nigerians anticipated from democracy has become an optical illusion; as incompetent leadership being thrown into the system by ‘godfatherism’ has amplified ethnic cleavages, religious intolerance, and greed. Where is the democracy, when the principle of separation of powers is being threatened? Local government council administrations are daily becoming ineffectual.
Today, a lot of contradictions have emerged within the system, as the general state of insecurity has reached an embarrassing point. While the Boko Haram insurgency is ravaging the northern part, the southern part is battling with another form of criminality that is, kidnapping. Corruption has also reached a monumental level and the anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, are seen as ineffectual as their efforts are adjudged to be selective and largely phony.
Imagine the report that Nigerian lawmakers approved only 106 new laws out of 1,063 brought before them in the last four years, despite spending more than half a trillion Naira within the aforesaid period, and earning the dishonourable identity as the world’s highest paid legislators. This figure only shows that of the combined average annual budget of N150 billion spent each year by the lawmakers since 2011; our legislators only returned 10 per cent in efficiency and averaging about two bills each month. They are taking home so much, but their work rate has been miserably poor.
A UK-based Economist in its 2012 analysis claimed that the Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid; the report also compared lawmakers’ earnings with their countries’ GDP. Nigeria was far ahead of other countries of the world, with its lawmakers taking 116 times what an average citizen takes of the GDP. Kenya and Ghana followed with ratios of 75 and 29.8 respectively. Norway’s ratio was 1.8, while U.S. lawmakers took 3.8 of what their citizens received.
A reflection of the state of the nation further shows how over the years, political actions have sadly shifted from that of entrenching an enduring democratic legacy and for Nigerians to imbibe the democratic culture to that of a gluttonous and immoderate search and struggle for political power, and service. For example, almost all the elections conducted since 1999 with the exception of the last one ended in acrimony. The political leadership had failed to build strong and practicable institutions that are required for democracy to flourish. The police are grossly underfunded, while the judiciary seems to have been compromised. The rule of law, which is an integral ingredient of democracy is been violated with impunity. At the same time political parties, the very crucial components in the socialisation process are themselves oozing out undemocratic behaviours and tendencies.
As we celebrate yet another democracy day, there is the need for attitudinal change; our leaders must shift grounds to make democracy work for the people. This can be achieved by working for the people, reduce cost of governance, embrace the rule of law, and create employment opportunities for the army of unemployed in the society by fighting unemployment, work-out a realistic template towards attaining economic growth and development, ensuring the security of lives and property as well as food security, only then will democracy day make sense to an average Nigerian.

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