A Decade of Democracy: The Proverbial Elephant

by Adewale Ajani

Various opinions have indicated what a decade of democracy in Nigeria means to diverse individuals. Like the proverbial elephant visited by some blind men, one cannot but be overwhelmed by the many-sided, manifold interpretations of “10 years of democracy in Nigeria” as given by these individuals. Happy reading.

Adamu Bebi

Profile: Adamu is a Special Adviser to the Personal Assistant to the Senior Special Adviser to the minister of state for enjoyment matters and sundry. Prior to his appointment, Adamu was a tanker driver with a long-distance haulage enterprise and a leading, staunch supporter of his state governor during the electioneering in his local government.

His take on democracy:

“I zink democracy has come to stay in our country wezer we like it or not. I just want to use zis offortunity to imflore my feofle and pellow citizens to be fatient wiz government. A journey of a zousand mile starts wiz a step.”

Romanus Uwaeke

Profile: Romie (as popularly called) is a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from one of the state-owned universities. After fruitless job searches, Romie now runs a private phone call centre.

Hear him:

Abeg Oga. Which kin yarn be dat one? You dey ask me about 10 years of democracy in Nigeria? As you see me so, I be graduate. I leave school 4 years ago. Since that time, I waka tire I dey look for job. Na hin I come think make I no waste time dey look for wetin I no fit get, na so I start this phone call business. God dey bless me I don put phone charging business join am. Demo what? Na ‘dem all crazy.’ Me I no send this government or this country. Abeg, bros make you carry this your interview go somewhere else. Make you no disturb my business.”

Senator Ojuoriolari Olowolagba

Profile: A retired school principal, Senator Olowolagba who once lived in a commune facility with his wife and 6 children before his (s)election to represent his district is now a proud owner of several vehicles and real estates which dot exotic portions of the FCT. He is often rumoured to be a stooge of Alhaji Lateef Omilabu, his state political godfather.

He has this to say:

“Thank you. You see, we have made progress. This is not where we were 10, 15 years ago when we were still in the iron grip of the military dictators. For many us, our monthly pensions were more of privileges than rights. We were dying in our thousands. But as fate would have it, I can tell you confidently that things have improved. And in confidence, I can also tell you as a senator of the federal republic (sitting up, with his voice lowered and an impish grin on his face) things have more than improved. I now have a chieftaincy title to my name, I married my third wife just last month and I go for regular medical check-ups abroad, among other goodies.”

Mrs. Adeola Martins

Profile: Mrs. Martins works with a human resource development outfit.

Her contribution:

“Excuse me; I don’t think I want to indulge you. Are you a journalist of some sort? I don’t want my comments to be that of one of the numerous faceless Nigerians whose opinions only adorn your newspapers but never count. However, if you may know, this government sucks. Do you say we have a government, when I generate my own electricity and water, provide security, send my kids to expensive private schools, patronise expensive private hospitals and many more? Spare me; I’ve got better things to attend to.”

Chief Edosa Omoigbe

Profile: Chief Omoigbe is a foremost newspaper publisher.

He speaks:

“My brother, I will say it can only get better. Democracy is good for business. Going by the copious congratulatory messages placed by political hobnobs preening their political benefactors (for the most frivolous reasons which range from coronation, marrying a 5th wife to 419 days in office); we’ve never had it so good. In addition to that, our bank accounts now burst at their seams courtesy of “open letters” warring factions of socio-political organisations flood our newspapers pages with.”

Madam Aminat Usman

Profile: Madam Aminat owns a stall at a local market where she sells foodstuff and other sundry items:

She expresses herself:

Me I thank God for this democracy o! Before before, na only big men fit use telephone but now people like me fit say ‘hello’ too (she laughs heartily). I just want dis government make dem no forget we poor masses. Things too cost. Make dem reduce price for petrol and kerosene, give our pikin free schools and drugs for hospital. We also need cheap cheap house, water and light. If dem do all these for us, we go happy and our lives go better.”

Ronald Uhkile

Profile: Ron, a barrister also expresses his mind on “Democracy at 10 in Nigeria.”

In his words:

“You’d agree with me that within the last decade as compared to the hitherto years of ignominy, Nigerians have been privileged to express their fundamental human rights. Political activism and “oppositionism” (whatever that means, these lawyers sef) have taken centre stage. Though the high-handedness employed by the two democratically elected presidents in dealing with some issues still portray we’re not yet there but we’re making progress. Our election tribunals have experienced “rejuvenism” and the court has made ordinary people’s votes count and indeed is the last hope of the common man (only God knows how many times that phrase has been mentioned in the last 2 years).”

P.S.: Barrister Ron fails to mention how he was transformed from an ordinary, “charge-and-bail” lawyer to one who can now change his grimy cloak and wig, move to an upscale office downtown and replace his rickety, smoke-puffing, 1985 model Honda Accord car. All thanks to the several election petition briefs he has to hold for aggrieved election candidates or those instigated by him.

Professor Jade Ososalo

Profile: Professor Ososalo a seasoned poet, writer and human rights activist, is a fellow at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs.

He bellows:

“You call this a democracy? I’d rather define this as autocracy devised in the dungeons of military aristocracy. Democracy stems from the mutual agreement of a people thereby producing binding terms otherwise christened a constitution. Our “constitution” is a lie against itself and the people whose testament it is meant to represent. It was spuriously and cunningly cooked by design and forced than our throats when military shenanigans decided to transit and change uniforms from khaki to babariga. Tell me, what has changed? What’s the disparity between then and now?”

Olaniyi Kolawole

Profile: A veteran journalist, Olaniyi is the Chief Press Secretary to one of the state gove


His take:

“The problem with a lot of Nigerians is that they are determined to see no good thing about this government. They take the slightest opportunity to slight government and its workings. Without gainsaying, this regime has relentlessly doled out dividends of democracy to all strata of the society without prejudice or discrimination and is still positioned to do much more in subsequent terms of which we’re sure of a return. We appeal to all impenitent critics, opposition parties and so-called activists to be very careful so as not to pull down this nascent, democratic experimental set-up. Our plea is neither a sign of inaptitude nor compromise but of reason as government likewise will not stop at crushing all evident enemies of democracy.”

NB: All above-mentioned individuals are fictitious. Near semblance or real existence of these is mere coincidence.

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