As Nigeria celebrates 13 years of democratic governance, corruption and terrorism have been identified as the greatest threats to national development. A cross section of respondents who spoke to The Tide said that corruption and terrorism must be tackled headlong to ensure the survival of the nation’s democracy.
They also gave a pass mark to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and President Goodluck Jonathan on the implementation of the transformation agenda. Mr Olaleken Ige, the Editor of Port Harcourt-based Independent Monitor Newspaper said that Governor Amaechi was keeping to his promise in completing all projects started during the first tenure of his administration.
He said that apart from the problem of insecurity confronting the Federal Government, President Goodluck Jonathan had within the last one year, built institutions to sustain democracy in the country, and listed the federal government’s policy on gas ultilisation as one of them.
Also speaking, Chief Funnie Chukumele listed security and infrastructural development as some of the achievements of the Amaechi administration.
Chief Chukumele, who is a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, also said that the Jonathan’s administration has brought international goodwill to Nigeria.
A lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Samuel Obong said the ingredients or gains of a democratic nation are lacking. He said the benefits of democracy are not there. There is poor road network, health and power sectors are in shambles. And all these are as a result of corruption and until it is tackled, we will only be deceiving ourselves”.
Obong who stated that the celebration of the day was just a mere formality, stating that once corruption is noted and tackled by the government, every other benefits of a true democratic system would fall in line.
A senior civil servant in Rivers State, who pleaded anonymity, said there is a long way to go as democracy seem to be making things worse.
He said ‘since Nigeria assured the democratic system, everything has gone worse. Every sector is degenerating because of the system put in place. The law is not catching up with anybody yet we have so many law enforcement bodies. Indiscipline has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigerians in every aspect of life. This was not the case during the military era.
Explaining democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people, he stated that the masses have never been part of the decision of the government and stressed the need for a referendum on the masses before decisions are taken.
On his part, Mr Aromokeye Gbenga also noted with dismay the present state of the nation and expressed the view that ‘if things are not done fast, this nation will crash.
Gbenga called on the government to awake to the ills that are on-going in the nation and utilized the year’s celebration to make amendment for a better and absolute democratic nation.
According to Jones Ayuwo, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt said 13 years of democracy has brought pains and gains to us. But I will say that politicians have not make the best use of democracy.
For instance, the issue of money sharing, it is only in this country that some level of government officials share money at the centre. I recommend constitution amendment for us to practices true federalism. The federative for instance unit should take care of their money. For instance, if Rivers State takes the money due them, things will work well. The present government should try and do some thing because some people feed fat and others don’t.
A Niger Delta activitist, Chief Anambs Sara-Igbe said poor government and illiteracy high rates are the major challenges confronting democracy in Nigeria.
Chief Sara-Igbe who opined that until Nigeria experienced good governance that would not be gingered by former military lords, the country would still be crawling.
Chief Sara-Igbe explained that true democracy can only work perfectly in a society where people were educated, saying that Nigeria is yet to developed as the illiterates rate is still high compared to other developed countries.
On Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, Chief Sara-Igbe commended the governor efforts in his first tenure, saying that the Rivers people should judge the governor in the second term.
Chief Victor Giadom, Commissioner for Work, Rivers State and Prof Peter Adeleye attributed the challenges confrontary democracy in the country to election malpractices in Nigeria.
He added that, Nigeria would only have true democracy, if the elections of the leaders reflect the votes of the people.
Meanwhile, Religious leaders on Sunday urged Nigerians to resolve to live in unity to ensure lasting peace in the country.
The religious leaders spoke in interviews with newsmen in Lagos.
A catholic Monsignor, Rev. Fr. David Ogbeide, told newsmen that concerted efforts were necessary to ensure peace and security in the country.
“Every Nigerian must endeavour to see his neighbour as a brother and friend who deserves the right to live,” he said.
Ogbeide said that if every individual showed concern for his neighbour, no matter how little it was, the era of greed and wicked killings would become a thing of the past.
According to him, the spate of killings in the country was regrettable.
Mr James Olajuwon, a pastor and evangelist, said that a major question agitating the minds of all Nigerians was when the bombings and killing of innocent citizen would stop.
He said that such heinous acts were condemnable, as its perpetrators had demonstrated wanton disregard of the sanctity of human life.
According to him, Nigerians need to continue praying and put their trust in God to stabilise the situation.
He urged Nigerians to continue to pursue peace at all level
Lady Usende, Friday Nlerum & Enoch Epelle