Prelude to the conclusion of its tenure, the 8th Senate assented to a bill earlier passed by the House of Representatives, which confirmed June 12 as Nigeria’s official Democracy Day, 26 years after the acclaimed freest and fairest election in the country’s political history was annulled via jackboot fiat.
Accordingly, the National Holiday Act was rejigged to move Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12. However, May 29 will remain sacrosanct as the date when one administration will hand over to a succeeding one in compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution regarding the tenure of administrations in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier – during his first tenure as a civilian President – in June 2018 declared that Democracy Day would be marked on June 12 of every year. He made the declaration when the Federal Government honoured Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 1993 Presidential Election, with the posthumous national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), the country’s highest national award. Abiola’s running mate in the election, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, and late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), foremost human rights lawyer, were likewise honoured with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) award, the second highest national honour.
That the aforesaid gesture was long overdue cannot be overemphasized. June 12, 1993, remains an indelible watershed in the country’s checkered democratic history, if not for anything, but for the collective manner Nigerians, regardless of primordial cleavages and politically invented animosities spoke out with one voice in their collective determination to put an end to the massive mess they were sordidly enmeshed in consequent to several years of khaki misrule; an evergreen date when Nigerians united to chart a new course for their country’s future development. The pernicious, arcane and asinine annulment notwithstanding, June 12 will forever be remembered as the date when Nigerians made a united charge for true change.
However, despite its welcome appeal, I am of the opinion that the elevation of June 12 to the status of Democracy Day is nothing but a Trojan horse; a deceptive charade mischievously orchestrated by a crop of political journey men to fool Nigerians into seeing foul as fair; an artfully designed political gimmick that is aimed at covering up the current administration’s several avoidable goofs. It is part of a grand stratagem concocted by an increasingly unpopular government to mobilize public support for its several murderous programs – the overhyped “people friendly policies” – that have transformed Nigerians into Hottentots and Zulu Kefirs in the midst of plenty. It is a poorly conceived, amateurishly executed public relations stunt; a damage control propaganda gambit that cannot fool any right-thinking Nigerian.
It is hypocrisy of the most atavistic kind for this administration to profess belief in the spirit of June 12, when its daily practices run contrary to the defining tenets of this historic date.
According to the Oxford Leaner’s Dictionary, a hypocrite is a person who pretends to have moral standards or opinions that they do not actually have. In a more holistic sense, hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case. Other words synonymous with hypocrisy include: sanctimoniousness, pietism, piousness, affected superiority, false virtue, triteness, humbug, pretense, posturing, speciousness, insincerity, falsity, deceptiveness, deceitfulness, dishonesty, dissimulation, duplicity, impersonation, two-facedness, double-dealing etc.
The PMB-led administration could be said to be suffering from a delusion of grandeur, by its shameless association with the spirit of June 12. It suffers from multiple identity disorder. If the PMB-led administration truly believes in the sanctity of June 12 as a symbol of democracy, why has it continued to brazenly contravene all known democratic norms since it came on board in 2015? Why does this administration pay deaf ears to popular entreaties for better deals for its largely impoverished populace? Why does it respond, Gestapo style, with fire and brimstone to any perceived challenge to its hegemony? Why does it make political appointments on the grounds of nepotistic, ethnic, and other parochially sectional considerations? Why does it seek to squeeze other political party’s into oblivion, when the country supposedly operates a multiparty system as defined by the constitution? Why does it flagrantly disobey court orders? Why, contrary to the principle of Separation of Powers, as provided in the Constitution, has the executive arm of PMB’s administration completely sequestrated and usurped the functions of the legislative and judicial arms of government? Are these pernicious dispositions in the spirit of June 12?
What is democratic about a system in which full citizenship participation in the electoral process is not guaranteed, and where eligible voters are systematically disenfranchised through technical defaults and other mischievous machinations of the cuckolding narcissists in the mansions of power? What is democratic about a government that regularly capitalizes on the ignorance, poverty and passivity of the larger population to influence the conduct and outcome of elections? What is democratic about a government that does not comprehensively fight corruption and the abuse of power by elected officials? What is democratic about a government that cannot guarantee the security of the lives and property of it citizens, a cardinal fiduciary responsibility it owes the popular sovereigns who brought it to power? What is democratic about a government run by maximum rulers – not leaders – without followers; a government that relies on naked force as its lingua-franca? What is really democratic about this largely pseudo, preposterous, imposturous democracy?
The PMB-led administration’s commitment to democracy is a laughable exercise in grandiloquent, quixotic pomposity that exists only on paper. This administration only pays lip service to democracy largely through the malapropisms of its squeamish squealers, the loquacious Goebbels, whose mastery of the art of word magic have helped in selling heaps of lies to a highly impressionable public who are the puns in the high-stake game of Russian Roulette that governance has become in Nigeria since 2015. The truth is that “government of the people” has completely gone with the winds since the inception of the incumbent civilian regime; it has become an ever receding pipe-dream, a sort of miasmic mirage that exists only in the breach. What obtains in Nigeria today in the guise of democracy is an impassive political regime where the few misrule at the expense of the many. It is the antithesis of a system of majoritarian rule based on popular consent. Take it or leave it!
A brotherly advise to Mr. President is for him to jettison his undemocratic, highly adversarial mien. For a president that rode to power on the wings of the popular will, he has underperformed, despite attempts by his paid pipers to paint an embellished picture of the rank rot that has become the sorry lot of Nigerians in the last four years. His excuses that the problems currently afflicting the country were already on ground when he came on board are gross expiations of his shortcomings and lack of leadership savvy. A true democrat with a mission to serve does not give excuses, but accepts that there are challenges that must be contained, no matter how gargantuan. He should look in the mirror and change his ways.
June 12 will remain a mammoth symbol of the people’s collective drive for a new democratic deal; a mutual quest by Nigerians for a better future; a joint pursuit of responsible, responsive, accountable, humane leadership. June 12 stands for free, fair, credible and acceptable elections; it stands for positive change anchored on oneness, honesty and decency; it stands for an earnestly sought-after ideal.
Until Nigeria transforms from the land of promise into a land of opportunities where anybody can aspire to be the best that they were created to be, without man-made encumbrances of any sort, until those in privileged positions of authority begin to recognize the popular sovereigns as the true owners of the mandates that brought them to power, until Nigeria becomes a country where governance is anchored on justice, equity, fair play and the rule of law, democracy will remain a mere utopia. All hands must be on deck to bring about a true democratic order in Nigeria.
God save Nigeria!