What Manner Of Democracy Day?

by Peter Claver Oparah

Somehow, on Thursday, May 29, 2008, I found myself in the village as the present occupants of the Nigerian seats of power celebrate what they call, ‘democracy day’. Even as I refuse to accept such perfidious attempt to misrepresent history, I clearly know that Nigerians remain at the farthest ends of what happens on such days. I mean the gluttony and licentiousness with which those that have successfully rigged themselves to power celebrate that day while the citizenry pine in regrettable want and affliction. This year’s remains the ninth of such vain celebration and in these nine better-forgotten years, Nigerians have wandered to hell and back and life has regressed so dismally that it had crashed to that fabled state of nature. Conversely, Nigeria has never had it so good in form of providential revenue accrual that has largely been pilfered, to the sorrow of long-suffering Nigerians. Most Nigerians rather regret that we had the kind of devalued and besmeared democracy we had on May 1999 and they remain pitiable outsiders to the gluttonous perfidy that attend that weird celebration. They regret having the dysfunctional state that they secured from the misapplication of democracy and they know, for sure, that what we have presently is far from what the world has taken to be democracy.

I must confess that May 29, 2008 was one of the most uneventful days I spent because the earth, practically speaking, came to a halt. It was an enforced holiday, quite alright, but most folks never knew why the holiday was declared. The entire heroic epic that followed the date itself has been completely washed away in the torrent of implacable leadership dementia that followed and the complete defrenestation of life in Nigeria is easily gauged from the long, forlorn, hungry and sad looks of Nigerians even as our over-pampered lords of the manor throw around their valueless weight in celebration of their roguish mandate over Nigerians. At a time an acute food crisis, depleted and umenable infrastructure regime have hit Nigeria full scale, an intractable unemployment binge assail the country, a total power failure launches an unmitigated state of darkness on Nigerians, a worsening health and educational crisis purloin Nigerians, a completely hobbled security system has exposed Nigerians to the relentless assault of the social vermin unleashed in the nine years of our so-called democracy, a vicious circle of poverty twines round the country, it is fool-hardy to believe that Nigerians are persuaded by the deceptive attempt by the present wielders of power to conscript them in rolling out the drums in celebration of the fact that they have replaced a uniformed band of treasury raiders with agbada-wearing rouges, in the rat race to preen the country of every available resources and leave the citizenry in a state of dejection.

For the whole day of May 29, 2008, there was no light in the village where I found myself. A very good friend of mine to whom I bemoaned my fate, and who stays in Lagos confessed that it was so bad there that they cook with ‘pure water’ as the boreholes that have replaced public water supply in Nigeria cannot function in the absence of power supply. I called many friends from other parts of the country and the story remains that constant bemoaning of the decrepit nature of the country, especially the power crisis. My batteries, phone and laptop, ran down and I couldn’t communicate and in short, there was total black out, yet we are supposed to celebrate the so-called dawn of a system of government of the people, for the people and by the people. I know that Abraham Lincoln must be issuing disclaimers from his grave by the parody going on in Nigeria.

When Obasanjo was in power, May 29 was another merry-making day where billions were wasted in celebrating the dim wits of the regime he presided over. The nation would always wake up every May 29 with the dour broadcast of sham figures that suggest the country was making great progress even when all practical indices suggest the contrary. Obasanjo would mount the rostrum, rail at his opponents, issue threats of dealing with whoever would be foolish enough to test his political will, sing the glories of the PDP and the con men with whom he was raiding the country, reel out phantom statistics of progress and make a sing song of what has turned out to be a deceptive reform and retire to Aso Villa, with his cahoots of fawners and courtiers to mount a month-long revelry; all in celebration of a democracy day. It is understandable why Yar’Adua chose the quieter ways of celebrating a hollow feast that has become so nauseous to Nigerians that they don’t want to be part of that debauchery. He has made a singsong of his low profile, even when most Nigerians are beginning to doubt his real commitment to water down on some of the noxious pastimes of his predecessor.

I remember nine years ago when Obasanjo, freshly dug out from Abacha’s gulag, looking gaunt and sober, was urging the country to rejoice and make merry because a democracy he never knew where it was fought and secured, had dawned. I remember the undiluted hope and optimism with which Nigerians expectantly reveled on that very day in 1999 and how they counted their chicken even while it was yet to hatch. For them, democracy, little minding the contradictory process that birthed the fresh cache of newer leaders that took oaths of office that very day, was the catch phrase and the solve-all panacea to the pangs of nationhood the country had been slaving for the greater parts of its independence history to overcome. We all witnessed how Obasanjo vowed on what remained of his honour to ensure that within the next six months, the problems of poor power supply would cease.

Like all other Nigerians, I witnessed how Obasanjo morphed, with each democracy day, into a Frankenstein, a lawless, vain and self-conceited behemoth whose wills must be done. We watched how he elevated himself to the status of a god and how he intentionally wrecked the Nigerian ship of state, urged on by a colony of sycophantic eunuchs who deigned in the destruction of the country their own survival. In just eight years, the country was reduced to a lifeless enclave where nothing but cooked and half-baked tales of economic progress flowered, together with official thievery, guile, dubiety and shattered dreams. We equally witnessed how Obasanjo became the Robin Hood that stole the country blind and employed all known tricks to ensure that the entire sectors of our national life, were crippled to the state of complete destitution it is presently. The national darkness that enveloped the country on May 29, 2008, is an apt metaphor to the grand and embarrassing failure that Obasanjo turned out to be. For Nigerians, whose eight years was callously wasted by Obasanjo and the thieving hustlers that ruined with him, it more than anything, deepened our distrust of everything government. It endured even as Yar’Adua came flagging the bandana of deceptive rule of law.

The last nine years of celebrating democracy days has more than anything, provoked in Nigerians the doubt writ large in their distraught minds that democracy is surely the best and fit system for us. It is not because Nigerians have lost faith in the textbook meaning and consequences of democracy but just that the perfidious manipulation to a system that ensures a steady decrementing of Nigerians life, a provocative adoption of empty slogans, a systematic institutionalization of official stealing, a mass pauperization scheme, a prebendal inclination to self-fending of the marauders that see themselves as ‘epitomes’ of democracy and an infliction of unceasing pains on majority of Nigerians, has stripped democracy of its sacrosanct values among Nigerians and has devalued its worth amongst them. To them, democracy is synonymous with the cabalization of politics to become a cult pastime where shibboleths and philistines take turns to rape and plunder the commonwealth and adopt an annoying carefree attitude to the feelings of Nigerians. To most Nigerians, May 29 is an annoying reminder of the geometric devaluation life in Nigeria has suffered in the past nine years, the way and manner the country has been despoiled by a brood of conscienceless vampires who have adopted every prank in the book to escape justice, sow impunity and breed an equally-destructive successor generation that steadily prosecutes the annihilation of the country and its dwellers.

Most Nigerians have refused to be part of what happens in Nigeria every May 29 since 1999. They don’t tie their increasingly pathetic fate to the bacchanal revelry and obscene self-celebration that have been the hallmark of May 29. They don’t subscribe to the acted spirit of prodigal conviviality with which those that have done so much to devalue the average Nigerian’s life adopt every May 29 to toast to their good fortune in the face of the mass privation they have prosecuted these nine sorrowful years. This is the reason why the entire country was like one expansive graveyard on May 29, 2008. This is why the nation, deep in the clutches of national darkness, cannot fathom what those in power were celebrating yesterday, as they never did in the eight years of uncensored brigandage when Obasanjo infested the nation’s body polity with sufficient negative values that besmeared the concept of democracy among Nigerians.

These are the reasons why the average village dweller cares less as Yar A’dua stutters through his unsure, clueless course where Obasanjo waffled with his negative activism in the past eight years. That is why he cares less as Yar’Adua sings the deceptive song of Vision 20-2020 while the country practically squelches to a halt. It is not the first time he had heard pf such duplicitous visions in the midst of pitch darkness, internecine hunger and want. There were similar visions in 1990, 2000, 2010 and sure some smart crooks must be holed up somewhere in Yar’Adua’s Aso Rock, drawing out blueprints of Vision 2030, 2050, or even 2100 when Nigeria will be the sole super power in the world! What a phantom dream! I know most Nigerians, not only the village dwellers, whose pulse I sounded on the so-called democracy day, yesterday, feels about this worthless annual ritual that does not take life an inch better than where he found himself on May 29, 1999.

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