What wouldn’t we do to preserve our cherished democracy? It used to be commemorated on May 29 before it was moved to June 12 in honour of the winner of the 1993 presidential elections, M.K.O. Abiola.
Now, every day that turns out to be June 12 reminds Nigerians of their democracy,of their precious diamond and the priceless diamantaires who cut it.
Parts of the fruit remain rotten, but each time Nigerians sink their teeth into the succulent fruit that democracy is, and let its juice drip down their fingers, they are reminded of the precious fruit snatched out of the hands of autocracy when Sani Abacha who as military president had caused the death of many providentially perished in Abuja in 1998.
That Nigeria`s democratic journey resumed in 1999 was made possible by the heroic sacrifices of many Nigerians who wanted to live in a country where the people, who are always the majority, dictated the terms of their citizenship and leadership, as opposed to the dictates of some military junta.
Those Nigerians who fought for democracy to return wanted to live in a country where the rule of law came before any other rule and where their children can feel safe, secure and most importantly, equal.
23 years later, has it all been a pipe dream? Well, it appears so, but not exactly. Of, course, there have been problems. Corruption has festered, eroding many of the gains made in providing Nigerians with the dividends of democracy, and most crucially, making the prospects of future dividends. At the heart of Nigeria`s crisis of corruption has been a shocking failure of transparent and forthright leadership.
The literal darkness which has resulted from Nigeria`s failure to make its electricity sector work has also been a metaphorical one, reflecting the way and manner in which many things have been ground to a halt in the country.
As corruption has raged forcing visionary leadership to recede into darkness, insecurity has reared the ugliest of its many heads, forcing many Nigerians living on the precipice to clamber over. At the moment, Nigeria`s situation reflects many shades of a national nightmare.
But to project the portrait of Nigeria since 1999 as that of a country where democracy has solely been a duet with the devil is to judge unfairly.
There have been many triumphs. When a misguided attempt by Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo to violate the 1999 Constitution in order to perpetuate himself in office breathed its last in the National Assembly in 2006, many Nigerians grinned from ear to ear.
In 2015, it was from the cool cistern of democracy that the vinegar of defeat was served the PDP-led administration that had taken the groans of Nigerians for granted. It remains a national misfortune that Nigerians only sold a monkey to buy a dog in that election. This became all too apparent when on October 20, 2020, as riotous protests raged around Nigeria stoking the insomnia of many of those holding the country to ransom,uniformed wolves descended on protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, mauling down nine of them and leaving many more injured.
But in spite of the wild attempts by the enemies of Nigeria to reduce the country to a heap of ashes and make a mockery of its democracy, Nigerians remain a vigilant lot. Around the fire of their hard-won democracy, Nigerians continue to keep warm, and do not wish to go back into the cold.
With the 2023 elections coming, awareness has continued to grow that the country is besieged from enemies within and outside. Every day, many Nigerians realize anew that what they have is worth protecting and improving.
Work remains in a lot of areas especially in the battle to enthrone responsible leadership in the country. However, as democracy is about the people, and Nigeria`s democracy about Nigerians, at the end of the day, it is Nigerians that will have the final say on how their democracy will be molded, and motored, and whether it will be manipulated or not.
This battle which is renewed every day will come to a climax during the elections next year. Long-suffering Nigerians deserve their democracy and even more. What they don’t deserve is the current crop of leaders in the country.