Democracy Day as President Buhari’s major contribution

Democracy Day as President Buhari’s major contribution

By Ibidapo Balogun

The vast majority of Nigerians commemorated the second year of June 12 being named Democracy Day with the dignity and respect we have come to respect from the Nigerian people. In their collective wisdom, the people understand the need to maintain and advance our democracy because they clearly see that it represents the path to sustained good governance. They see it as the path Nigeria must take to improve their daily lives. They want us to go faster forward and never backward. However, for all general rules there is always some exception.




In this case, that exception is the PDP. Their mouths remain full of vinegar and minds fully infected with the bitterness of losing what they thought was their birth right. In thinking they owned what is completely the people’s mandate, they held to a greatly corrupted notion of democracy. With their original notion of democracy a stupendous miscue, their subsequent actions in governance would be even worse. Given so much time, opportunity and resources, they produced so little that was good. And whatever they found that was good they wasted or pilfered.

Yet, these people boasted they would reign over Nigeria for 60 years regardless of what they did or did not do. Thankfully the people proved them wrong. This once braggart party has degenerated into a covey of whiners. However, they have not changed in their disregard for democracy. They hate it and will always despise it for they care nothing about government for the people. Their goal is to return to office in order to sequester all of the nation’s spoils for themselves.  Anything short of this robber’s dream makes them so fundamentally unhappy that even their tears cry.

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Like every other country, Nigeria must grapple with lethality of the coronavirus and with the economic fallout of the necessary public health measures taken to contain that viral lethality. This matter is not a game for children or the irresponsible. Lives by the hundreds of thousands may well be at stake; also, is the future of the nation.

Whether the acrid songbirds of the PDP like it or not,  this government has done as well as  any government can in fighting COVID-19, particularly given our resource base and public health care system. PDP had 16 straight years to improve the health care system but did nothing but preside over its crumbling. The PDP should be the last to make noise or case blame save if it finally does the right thing by blaming itself.

Thus far, Nigeria has fared better than any comparable nation in terms of population. With over 200 million people we have roughly 2/3 the population of the United States. Yet, that nation, with its better health care system, has lost nearly 120,000 people to the disease. We have lost less than 400. Brazil has a population equal to ours. That nation has suffered nearly 900,000 cases and over 20,000 deaths. Despite being of the same size, we have less than 20,000 cases.

We cry for all those we have lost for that is what loved ones do for those who have departed. However, we also must thank God for his mercies in sparing us from the worse of this disease. We must also acknowledge that this government has addressed this dire emergency with seriousness and sustained commitment even to the point of taking actions that were necessary but not necessarily popular.

On Democracy Day, President Buhari addressed the country to commend Nigerians for their investment in democracy and to enumerate the challenges that lie ahead and to maintain hope, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. This present national emergency demands strict observance of personal hygiene and safety measures initiated by government to contain the virus. All must join to make this successful. Instead, the PDP offers nothing but petty animosity and vague criticism. But what is missing is the most important thing. They offer no alternative solutions because they have none. They are of bankrupt mind and cold heart. They have nothing new or better to suggest. Thus they shout and criticise loudly in hope their volume might obscure that they are bereft of productive ideas and policies. The only thing in which they exhibit creativity is the many ways they invent to siphon from the public treasury. Thus they have a most difficult time understanding President Buhari because he is neither on the take nor on the prowl for personal gain. He sees public funds as meant for the public good. Try as they might they will never understand him because they only have fleeting and disdainful relationship with integrity.

The PDP shamelessly embarked on unfounded criticism. In one of its most blatant infraction against the truth, they claimed President Buhari had no democratic scorecard to present. Forget for the moment the fact that they could so freely publish such a claim undermines their very premise. The press and the airwaves are as free as they have ever been if not freer. Papers are not scared to report what they want. TV stations do the same. People can speak in any number of ways without fear of reprisal. Opposition criticism of the APC and the government has been protected for we realize that democracy requires opposition, differing opinions and debate. We were once in opposition and we remember how the PDP hounded us. We will not do the same for it is counterproductive and weakens the very sinews of the democracy we seek to nurture.

Under the present administration, the press is unencumbered. President Buhari has demonstrated tolerance in the face of harsh criticisms. For sure, he has done much better than the vengeful and cruel Obasanjo who harboured ill toward those who criticized him privately let alone publicly. Those in the PDP must be afflicted with amnesia or think the rest of us have been.

Civil society has been unrestricted and going about their various missions, which have proved useful in deepening democracy. This applies to those groups supportive of the president and those opposing him. The courts have been discharging their responsibilities without hindrance. The courts issued verdicts based on questionable legal reasoning to overturn clear APC victories in both Zamfara and Bayelsa governorship elections. If President Buhari were not a man with democratic scruples, such things would be impossible just as they were impossible when the man from Ota rode roughshod over the land.

The PDP even attempted to excoriate President Buhari, for not giving due place to Bashorun Moshood Abiola in his broadcast. What? How vast the hypocrisy. For the 16 years they occupied the federal government, the PDP turned their back on June 12. They belittled the day and adamantly opposed making it a national holiday. Obasanjo would not have been president but for June 12. However he blanched at the very thought of making it a holiday. In his vainglory, he was stricken with angry paroxysms at the very mention of Abiola’s name. It was President Buhari who had the fortitude and political courage to give this event the place in our history that it deserves. This shows a key difference between Buhari and the PDP. He will do the best he can to do what he believes is right. They will only do what profits them no matter the wrong it may be.

President Buhari was also the one who posthumously bestowed on Bashorun Abiola the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, the highest honour in the land, reserved for presidents. No PDP president lifted his finger in this direction. Thus, if the PDP wants to levy honest criticism, let it clean its own stables instead of flicking dirt at the president for doing the honourable thing they were afraid of doing.

The PDP alleges that the president blamed recent killings in parts of the country on COVID-19 restrictions. This is not what he said. The president accurately said the evil insurgents were trying to take advantage of the restrictions to cause more violence. With law-abiding people under some from restrictions of movement, both terrorists and criminals increased their wicked activities. This is just a fact. Facts such as these give rise to a complex balancing of public health and security concerns that the federal government must closely monitor and adjust as is needed. This gives no rise to simplistic answers and crude mischief. The president has said the security agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Moreover, the security agencies and public health officials are cooperating to optimize the delicate balance of the two concerns.

Nigeria has work to do in perfecting our democracy and in bringing meaningful economic prosperity and relief to the majority of the people. However, in the last five years, his administration has performed admirable and with progressive purpose. The president has not shied from tough issues. He has confronted the nation’s challenges particularly insecurity, corruption and the economy. This he will continue to do on behalf of and for the benefit of the people. This is the true import of his Democracy Day message. As for me, I see nothing wrong with that. May president Buhari continue to work with honest and patriotic commitment to construct a better Nigeria and may well meaning Nigerians stand with and help him. May the PDP at some point come to recognize what democracy truly means. Now, what a day that shall be!

  • Balogun, a Political Affairs Commentator, writes from Lagos


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