During the last G-8 summit, Nigeria’s President Umar Musa Yar’Adua lamented the non invitation of Nigeria by the world powers to attend the summit even as observer. The president described the situation as not only unfair to the country but a cruel act by the dominant economic nations of the world. This was inspite of the fact that some smaller countries, around the world were invited to attend as observers.
Recently too, the president of the United States of America, USA, Barack Obama did what many considered as ‘unimaginable’ when he took a bold step to visit an African Country for the first time since his historic assumption of office as the first black President of the most powerful country on earth. Ordinarily, nobody would have expected Obama to visit any other country in Africa first before Nigeria, popularly acclaimed as the giant of Africa.
The furor generated by the visit was such that led both the government and the governed in Nigeria, to begin to ask several questions bothering much on our ‘every year young democracy.’ A democracy that has refused to grow. A democracy that has succeeded in making very few individuals billionaires at the expense of their fellow country men and women. A democracy that has created more opportunists than opportunities. A democracy that thrives in dishonesty and crookedness. A democracy short of transparency.
Interestingly, the US government would not want to get connected with such porous system, where mere election of leaders is a do or die affair. Where people vote with guns rather than with voters’ card. Where the ruling party must win at al cost. Where a governor or any other elected representative could just wake up one day and decided to abandon the party on which platform he was elected and jump over to another party without losing his seat as if we are operating a lawless country. America is far too advanced to associate with a country where corruption is glorified and corrupt officials worshipped to high heavens.
A country where Managing Director of a Commercial Bank would stand up to grant an individual billions of naira a loans without valid collateral, even when he/she knows that such money belongs to depositors. But just because they are friends or school old school mates. Obama is too responsible and caring to visit a country where the president and other officials of government jet out of the country for medical treatment for ordinary headache while the citizens die daily for lack of access to healthcare.
We cannot pretend that all is well when we all know the naked truth. Even looking at the current trend in the banking sector it is enough evidence that we are not qualified to dine and wine with the advanced countries of the world. As if Obama’s visit to Ghana was not enough injury, the US government later sent its secretary of state, Mrs Hillary Clinton with a message to tell Nigerians and their leaders that we are yet to really practice true democracy.
The former first lady was quite frank in chronicling the evils that bedevil our polity, such that may not give us the chance to attain stable or internationally acceptable democracy.
Among all, she mentioned, the notorious issue of corruption, the headache called ‘Niger Delta’, lack of credible electoral process and lots more.
Interestingly whenever, the woman mentioned such issues as corruption and election fraud in the course of her speech while addressing the civil society, politicians and other stakeholders in Abuja, Nigerians shouted in applause which goes to show that the vast majority of the people are really in support of the speech and the position of the American government on the goings on in Nigeria. Clinton did not hide the feeling of the American Government when she said that, the country (Nigeria) needs to set up an active anti-corruption agency. When reminded that the Farida Waziri, led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC still exists she said; ‘Before, EFCC used to work hard but now it appears it has gone to sleep.’’ If that is all we need to know then the visit has afforded Nigerians the opportunity to hear that.
Had it been, such moderate but candid submission came from either the Nigerian media or the discerning member of the Nigerian masses, those in authority would have descended on such hapless fellow branding him anti-government or opposition politician, all in an effort to crucify him. With Clinton’s submission, we now know why Obama preferred visiting Ghana to Nigeria.
But even before the Obamas, we all knew too well that our democracy has been a wasted ten years. Those who were entrusted to help push our country forward after decades of military rule, have rather pushed the nation backward. Every step taken by our politicians since 1999 has been retrogressive. The gap between the poor and the rich has continued to widen. Government has become ‘government of friends, by friends and for their friends.’’
The 2011 general election is just less than two years away, yet nothing concrete on ground to suggest that electoral fraud will not recur. There is nothing to show that the government is committed to bringing a change into the electoral system. Even the much tooted electoral reform is still moving at a snail speed in the two chambers of the National Assembly
The lawmakers are still dilly-dallying over some critical issues in the reform proposal forgetting that time is no longer on our side. But one need not blame them since they are beneficiaries of the same bad system. There is no doubt that they would want the status quo to remain so that they will bulldoze their way through back to their seats.
The further truth is that , as long as the same Prof. Maurice Iwu conducts the 2011 general elections, Mrs Farida Waziri still calls the shots in EFCC and Mr Justice Minister, Micheal Karsee Aandoaaka remains in office, the likes of Barack Obama may never visit Nigeria in the nearest future. Whatever that portends to Nigeria, economically, politically and otherwise only time will tell.