As governments at all levels mark 15 years of uninterrupted democratic practice in Nigeria today, stakeholders from all walks of life have expressed divergent views on the successes, failures and prospects of democracy and good governance in the country.
The stakeholders, who spoke to our correspondents in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, x-rayed the nation’s democratic experiment since May 29, 1999, its achievements thus far, the challenges bedevilling the country, and the lessons learnt from the avalanche of issues that have negatively affected Nigeria’s march towards greatness.
They also made suggestions on the way going forward through policies that would guarantee hope, peace and sustainable development while at the same time securing the lives and property of citizens.
Chairman, Ahoada West Local Government Area, Barrister Awori Miller said, “the Federal Government has failed Nigerians in many ways, especially in the area of security of lives of the citizens, and combating poverty in the land. Presently, I can say that there is no security in Nigeria. The country’s leadership has also failed in terms of providing employment for the citizens.
“The Federal Government has to be sincere in its policies to revamp the faltering state of infrastructure development in all sectors of the economy. The National Conference that is expected to shape the future of the country is a mere jamboree, because I don’t expect anything meaningful from the look of things.
“The survival of Nigeria needs a deliberate and concerted efforts to address critical issues of national concern, such as job creation, security, minority rights, among others.”
For Patrick Court, a teacher: “There is not much to celebrate as the country is in a state of dilemma, and requires the intervention of God to save the people from extermination. It is unfortunate that Nigerians can no longer find peace at every part of the country, and that puts a question mark on our democracy and nationhood.
“We can only celebrate when we live life unmolested, and pursue our livelihoods in any part of the country without fear of harassment, intimidation or even being killed under violent circumstances. We need to pray for the peace, security and survival of this country.”
A commercial motorist, Akanimo Udosen said, “I am not very happy with the way things are going in this country. Things are very difficult for the ordinary people, who have increasingly become vulnerable. They are mostly the victims of terrorist attacks. “The government should do something to protect the lives of ordinary citizens.
“In the area of transportation, the Federal Government has tried with the reconstruction of the railway system. I think the government should try and complete the rail project to help the ordinary people who cannot afford expensive transport system.”
Fellow, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Elizabeth Bob-Manuel said, “I think the government has made some impact in the development of the health sector but there are still lots that need to be done. The government has to muster the political will to make the system more functional than the way things are now.
“For instance, there should be provision of basic facilities for effective medical services in Nigeria to discourage over-dependence in foreign medical services. There should also be a multisectoral approach towards the developemnt of the health sector as the government cannot do everything alone. I am however, optimistic that things will improve remarkably in the future, if there is a determined will to fix the system, devoid of politics.”
Chairman, New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Hon Princewill Enyie picked holes with the administration at all levels for what he described as government of exclusion. “Those in charge of governance should bring all the stakeholders in governance together. Any governance that cannot do that can’t be regarded as a government,” he said.
“Unity government is only professed but not put into actual practice, and until the attitude is changed towards uniting the people at all levels of governance, we cannot be speaking in one voice,” he mainatined.
“Our democracy has sufferred in the hands of leaders who lack the will to govern the people. Look at the delay in the conduct of local governemnt elections. This is one of the inconsistencies in policies that has characterised our democracy, and made progress towards perfection difficult.”
Vice Chancellor, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE), Prof Rosemund Dienye Green-Osahogulu, while assessing the contributions of the youth to the nation’s democracy, said there are areas the youth have performed enviably well, adding that many of their negative activities have also brought shame to the nation. She said there is no way Nigeria’s democracy can be unbiasedly assessed without taking into cognisance the role of the youth in national development, peace and stability.
She scored the youth high in the areas of sports, as according to her, many of them have represented the country well, bringing honours and laurels. They have also made the country proud in the area of entertainment such as music and movies.
“But in the education sector, they have not bequeathed themselves enough. Some of them still engage people to write JAMB and class examinations, especially at tertiary level. They involve in cultism, militancy, kidnapping, robbery, and other social vices. They have lost their sense of respect for elders, their social values and attitudinal orietations have not been encouraging. These are some of the challenges that our democracy has faced in the last 15 years.
For Senior Lecturer, IAUE, Dr Green Iheanacho: “Our leaders appear not to have a full grasp of the how presidential system of government in a democracy should work. This is why we tend to pander more towards parliamentary or unitary system of government. In the present dispensation, you see more of an overbearing legislature and controversial judiciary. It appears they do not have a clear undertsnading of the system of government they are running.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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