INDEPENDENCE: Reasons For Dashed Hope

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(Last Updated On: 2021-10-04)

 

By Bolaji Ibraheem

To what extent should Nigerians trust our political gladiators to keep promises made during election campaigns? This is a nagging question, no doubt, one that has elicited varied response as Nigerians appraised governance in the country since 1960. Politicians in Nigeria are generally seen as people who do not always stand by their words. When a Nigerian politician say yes, he means may be; when he say may be, he means no.

In this country, politicians have over the decades earned for themselves the unenviable reputation of impertinent liars. They exploit the ignorance of the largely illiterates populace and the political aloofness of the elites to abuse their mandate and drag the society down into abyss of underdevelopment. The poor state of development across Nigeria, the insecurity, kidnapping, banditry, drug abuse, human trafficking and yahoo-yahoo activities popular among our youths are due to insincerity and bad leadership, on the part of our political elites.

Prior to May 29, 1999, the Nigerian scene was very bleak. During the past military regimes in Nigeria, particularly from August 27, 1985 till the last military regime from June 8,1998 to May 29, 1999, there has been a systematic denigration of hope in the country. One of the tragedies that has befallen Nigeria in history is military incursion into politics.
In a radio broadcast announcing Nigeria’s first military coup on Radio Nigeria, Kaduna, on January 15,1966, the coup leader, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu announced that the military struck because “Nigerian enemies have been found to be political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demanded ten per cent; those that seek to keep Nigeria divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIP’s at least, the tribalism, the nepotisms, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.”

But, between January 15th, 1966 and May 29, 1999 when the military eventually returned to the barracks, eight military leaders have led the country. They are Aguiyi Ironsi, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Brig-Gen. Murtala Muhammed, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Major-Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Sani Abacha and Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar. Contrary to high level of corruption levelled against First Republic politicians, investigation revealed that it was under subsequent military rule that corruption was allowed to grow unchallenged and unchecked in the country.

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Under past military government in Nigeria, it was glaring for everybody to see that rules and regulations for doing official business were deliberately ignored, set aside or by-passed to facilitate corrupt practices. Hopes were raised during Gen. Ibrahim Babangida when his administration embarked on a transitional programme promised to usher in democratically elected government. Nigerians were happy and participated actively in the program believing it was genuine. Politicians too rolled out their sleeves and partook in the transitional program. For example, a renowned business mogul and philanthropist, Chief MKO Abiola organised and funded Hope 93 political activities across the country.

The 1993 presidential election was historic due to the fact that Abiola, a Southerner, was able to secure national mandate freely and fairly. The feat was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history but, the election was annulled by Gen. Babangida, and a political crisis engulfed the country which led to Gen. Sani Abacha seizing power and established reign of terror on Nigeria.

By the time Chief Olusegun Obasanjo returned to power as an elected President in 1999, the Nigerian business environment was one of the most unfriendly in the world. In his inaugural speech, Obasanjo promised he would be firm with all corrupt individuals and companies in the system. “There will be no sacred cows. Nobody, no matter who and where, will be allowed to get away with the breach of the law or perpetration of corruption and evil, ” he noted. One of Obasanjo’s legacies in office is creation of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), ICPC and others. He helped Nigeria secure exit from the London and Paris Clubs of creditors. But, he failed to tame corruption as he vowed to do in his inaugural speech.

In the last two decades of the Fourth Republic, four elected leaders have led the country. Former President Obasanjo started the race in 1999, he handed over to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 27, 2007. The election that brought Yar’Adua to power is highly controversial. Many alleged that his election was marred by corruption. The All Nigeria People’s Party, (ANPP), Muhammadu Buhari his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, filed petitions to have the 2007 presidential election invalidated due to alleged fraud. Yar’Adua did not complete his four year term in office, he died in 2010 paving way for the Vice-President, Goodluck Jonathan to first acted as President before he contested and won the 2011 presidential election and became the President.

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In his inaugural speech on May 29th, 2011, the newly elected President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, told Nigerians that the time of lamentation is over for Nigerians at home and Diaspora. He said, “This is the time for action. This is the era for transformation. I will continue to fight , for your future, because I am one of you. I will continue to fight, for improved medical care for all citizens, to have access to first class education, for electricity to be available, for efficient and public transportation system for all the people and I will continue to fight for jobs to be created through productive partnership.

“In the days ahead, those of us that you have elected to serve must show that we are men and women with the patriotism and passion, to match the hopes and aspirations of you, the great people of this country.” By the time Jonathan left office in 2015, majority of the promises made in his inaugural speech before Nigerians are not fulfilled. Nigeria did not fared any better during the regime of Goodluck Jonathan owing to inconsistent policies and bad leadership style. He failed to wipe the tears of long suffering Nigerians.

Nigerians torch of hope brightened after Gen.Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) defeated his main rival, the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, during the 2015 presidential election. However, six years after he has been Nigerian leader and two years to the expiration of his second term statutory tenure, Buhari’s style of leadership is more frustrating than that of his predecessor in office.

The sufferings of the people has increased as many people are going hungry and angry everyday owing to rise in cost of foods, cost of living, inflation rate, joblessness and insecurity of lives and property.

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The status of our hospitals change from what it used to be, a consulting clinics, rate of unemployment has continue to rise on weekly basis, our educational sector is yet to get the necessary face-lift promised by Buhari’s handler in 2015 and 2019. The impact of billions of naira expended on electricity generation and supply by the government is yet to be felt by the people, our highways are death trap for motorists and kidnappers are taking advantage of roads to increase the tempo of kidnapping and collecting humongous ransom from over-taxed Nigerians.
In spite of all these, the Buhari led government has continue to burrow from foreign organisations and countries. The one that astonished Nigerians the more is President Buhari to build a railway line from Kano through his home town, Daura, in Katsina State, to Maradi in neighbouring Niger Republic. Nigeria is to cough out $2 billion, mostly from China, to carry out this unnecessary rail project to another country, when rail lines is yet to connect essential part of Nigeria.

The status of our hospitals changed from what it used to be, a consulting clinics, rate of unemployment has continue to rise on weekly basis, our educational sector is yet to get the necessary face-lift promised by Buhari’s handler in 2015 and 2019. The impact of billions of naira expended on electricity generation and supply by the government is yet to be felt by the people, our highways are death trap for motorists and kidnappers are taking advantage of bad roads to increase the tempo of kidnapping and collecting humongous ransom from suffering Nigerians. In other words, Buhari has been mistaken for Nigerians torch of hope.

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