Activities across the country were yesterday halted to mark the 19th year of Nigeria’s return to democracy and the third anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
In Lagos, citizens from all walks of life yesterday blared their minds to The Guardian on their hopes and fears about Nigeria on Democracy Day. Many expressed dissatisfaction over the state of the nation. While they expressed joy that the nation has been consistent in achieving a democratic rule, they, however, chide the government for their incompetence in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people.
When The Guardian visited a community in Victoria Island, residents urged the government to as a matter of urgency address the myriad of challenges confronting the country. Specifically, a marketer with Park and Shop, Nwosu Samuel, urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stick to their promise of restructuring, saying this is the only way forward for the country.
According to him, Nigeria should practice democracy they way it is done in other countries of the world. He said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“It is like Nigeria is practising a different version of democracy from the rest of the world. The APC promised they would restructure Nigeria and looking at the way things are, they are not ready to make good their promise. I think the way forward is to restructure the country. This is where the right people will be in the right position to put things in order. If Nigeria is restructured it will give room for healthy competition in the regions that the country has.”
An educationist and businesswoman, Miss Bunmi Ezekiel, commends President Buhari for being prudent with the nation’s resources, but condemned his inability to fulfill his change promises. She said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Buhari’s tenure has made everyone come back to their senses. Things are tight and the only means of survival is being prudent. The economy is harsh; people are hungry and no two ways about it. This, however, is not the change we were promised. He promised to create jobs and give graduates N5,000 monthly but he has done none of these. Our roads are still bad and economy is not improving.”
A phone accessory trader, Mr. Ujah Alidu Peter, expressing his fears about 2019 election, said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Nigerians despite their disappointment with this government are in the habit of selling their rights to vote for politicians. In 2015, I saw people selling their votes for as low as N300, which is terrible. Nigerians should start acting and stop complaining. We just know how to complain; we don’t know how to act. We need to stop these noise-making. Nigerians are like people who pass by a refuse dump, they complain about the stench and forget immediately they leave the spot.”
A transporter, Salufu Buhari, said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“I do not see anything worth celebrating about democracy in this country, workers are owed months of salaries and the economy is not smiling. In democracy, government is supposed to make life easy for us. If we need to celebrate democracy, government should begin to take interest in little things that concerns the people, things like good road, water and jobs for graduates.”
A trader, Mrs. Azeez Ramota, said she sees no meaning celebrating democracy when life is hard, with many economic and social challenges making living difficult. “Everything is high, fuel price is high, we can barely pay children school fees. Even feeding is a major challenge. The only difference I see in Nigeria today and yesterday is that we now have elections, but everything else has been the same with military rule.”
For Business Manager, System Air Conditioner Samsung Electronics West Africa, Engr. Ibrahim Ogundeko, democracy is freedom without restriction and in Nigeria, it is not worth celebrating yet “as we are still in the shadow of what it is. We are still far from it. We need to go back to the drawing board and redefine our democracy to see how to synchronize our current status with its definition.”
Ogundeko said he is very disappointed in Buhari’s administration in the past three years as expectations were high, but he has performed poorly below expectation. He hopes young Nigerians quit complaining and get their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and vote for the right person.
An entrepreneur, Mr. Daniel Aderiye, said democracy is not worth celebrating in the country, as its existence has not been evident in the lives of the peole. He described the nation as a household crying for the survival of crisis at every level. Aderiye fears that 2019 election may be rigged but hopes for a free and fair election.
Meanwhile, traders in Lagos seem not to be very happy with this year’s democracy day celebration, as they have lamented the unusual drop in the turn out of customers. The markets, which are hitherto busy with high volume of trading activities days ahead of public holidays and is reflected in the logjam across many city centres, yesterday experienced free movement, even as some traders were seen battling for the few customers entering the markets.
The traders, who expressed their disappointment over the development, said from the early hours of the day, most of them have either been sleeping or sitting idle in their shops.
According to them, most of their customers seemed to have been affected by the harsh economic situation as many of them complain of lack of money and only haggle about prices of items without purchasing.
This contradicts the president’s Democracy Day speech, which explained the broad strategic objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to restore and sustain economic growth, build a globally competitive economy and Invest in our people.
He told Nigerians that implementation of the ERGP has started yielding results as he National Bureau of Statistics reports that the economy grew by 1.95 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, which is a good performance when viewed against -0.91 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 and -0.67 per cent in first quarter of 2016.
A visit to the ‘weekly’ Tuesday Aswani Market revealed that sales of commodities were not as encouraging as compared to previous years as most customers preferred to stay at home to enjoy the holiday.
Speaking, a businessman who deals in clothing, Mr. Jude John, expressed his anger over what he described as,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]‘the worst year in the business’, which he had ventured into for over eight years.
“Usually on public holidays, we expect to make more sales as has been the ritual but today is so different. Most customers are complaining bitterly about the unavailability of money, which to me is bad business. I have left my house since morning but I cannot even boast of returning home with as much as I do on a normal market day”, he said.
A transporter, Mr. Tairu Adekanbi, who plys the Abule-Egba/Aswani route, said he drove to the market almost empty. According to him, there was so much difference between this year and other years in terms of economic activities and turn up of people.
“Public holidays are part of our boom days in the transport business, because even government workers and civil servants use today out of their busy schedules to shop, but the case today is different. I don’t know who or what to blame but the situation today is quite bad.”
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