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Nigeria’s democracy project: Tinubu factor in perspective

As momentous as the day Wednesday June 12 2024 was, its essence was nevertheless lost on most Nigerians, courtesy of the overhang of a pall…

As momentous as the day Wednesday June 12 2024 was, its essence was nevertheless lost on most Nigerians, courtesy of the overhang of a pall of despair in the face of extreme privations, across the length and breadth of the country. That was the day Nigerians marked the 25th anniversary of unbroken democracy in its history having returned from military rule in 1999. This is not as if the country was not buffeted occasionally by the scare of a return of the military to power, as such a dispensation always hung like the mythical ‘Sword of Damocles’ over the nation,  and featured regularly in conversation circles across its length and breadth. The day was therefore one in which the country needed to celebrate its rebirth as a democratic nation – ruled once more by a Constitution, and not by military fiat.

In a poetic perspective, the mood of the country was as captured several years earlier in the lyrics of the hit song ‘Suffering and Smiling’ by late Nigerian Afrobeat maestro – Fela Anikulapo Kuti, in which he lamented over the helpless state of abandonment of his compatriots by uncaring successive administrations in the country.  Fela Anikulapo Kuti passed away on August 2, 1997, while the song that captured the current mood of the country was recorded in 1977. It therefore remains easy to appreciate the poignancy of the wordings of the song in mirroring the mood of the country even before and during time, as well as 47 years after its release, to the present.

Ostensibly, the difference at this time is that the condition of suffering and smiling by Nigerians now has a window of expectations of better times to come, courtesy of the presidential campaign mantra of Renewed Hope by the incumbent President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with the actualization of same blowing in the wind for now. That is how far the country has fared as on the reference day of June 12 2024.

In the context of the currently trying circumstances facing Nigerians, the need to trust President Bola Tinubu cannot be over emphasised. However courtesy of the state of affairs,  Nigerians are trusting him on empty stomachs and forlorn spirits, with the only relief coming from incessant prayers in every worship centre—be such Christian or Muslim, as well as in various groves and shrines by the traditional religionists. In its true form life has never been as desperate as this for the country in a long time.

Placed in context, Nigerians’ trust on Bola Tinubu derives from several of his antecedents firstly as an active participant at the trench level in the costly struggle to restore democracy in the country, from the grip of military rule under the aegis of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). This was after the annulment of the victory of Chief M K O Abiola in June 1993, the exit of General Ibrahim Babangida from office to be succeeded by Chief Ernest Shonekan, and the hijack of the country’s leadership by General Sani Abacha with his viciously totalitarian style, which spawned the onset of efforts to re-democratise the country. His death in 1996, created room for the ascendancy of General Abdulsalami  Abubakar as Head of State, who returned the country to the new democracy. For being part of the enterprise, profiles Bola Tinubu as a leader who has tasted life as it is for the oppressed.

Beyond the foregoing are also the considerations that not only did he govern Lagos State with tangible dividend to his credit but he also was a major player in plotting the current political dispensation in the country being the ascendancy of the ruling political party – All Progressives Congress (APC). Hence is the consideration that if any leader is to succeed in turning the fortunes of the country around Bola Tinubu has the chance of fitting the bill.

However, after one year in the saddle, there are more questions than answers by the administration for millions of hard-put Nigerians especially over access to the very basics of living such with the insufficiency of food as the leading privations. And if the adage that a hungry man is an angry man, it goes without saying that Nigerians in their multitude are not only hungry but angry as well. This is the dimension of extreme danger of possible social upheaval which the government needs to be guided by, as the next step for the people is to engage in food riots which no administration worth its salt should allow its citizens to contemplate or degenerate to.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, the circumstance of President Bola Tinubu not a few Nigerians are questioning whether the present situation is the best that can come from him as one of the fighters for the return of democracy at a most critical time in the history of the country as such antecedent  confers on him beyond any other Nigerian leader for now, to actualise the processes and dividends of democracy. This consideration goes beyond the trending narrow definition of democracy as that of merely changing political leadership through elections. Rather the challenge goes far beyond far that preliminary dispensation.

The more profound context of democratic governance is actualised by the government providing the enabling environment for citizens to live sustainable lives. So far however, this has not taken place under the present administration, thereby vitiating the promise of the Bola Tinubu factor. Hence, even if Nigerians need to be patient and allow the government time to put things right, such a dispensation should not be at the avoidable expense of the lives of the citizens.

That is why the present state of affairs whereby Nigerians are being squeezed into avoidable untimely suffering and even death, due to hunger and starvation among other privations, remains unacceptable as it is a time bomb ticking towards a conflagration.

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