When Nigeria marked its Democracy day on 29 May, 2016, it citizens put up a non nonchalant attitude. In this interview with Federationews2day, Founder of Shafaudeen Worldwide, Wakajaye, Ibadan, Nigeria, Professor Sabitu Olagoke gives the reason why. Excerpts :
Before the present disposition, the opposition laid emphasis on June 12 as Democracy day, but now, the reverse is the case, why do you think this is so ?
The present government happens to be that of the progressives whereby the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) government was tagged reactionary, or capitalist conservative. The progressives have been sensitizing the members of the public since the days of their been in the opposition, as well as been activists, who used to tag themselves as the progressives, the society itself is used to them, as those people who are well meaning to Nigeria, and whose government would be able to bring about the expected succour to the people. Fortunately for them, then, opposition was highly necessary because of the oppressive way the then government in power had been ruling the country. June 12 happened to be the cornerstone of the then progressives in opposition and the argument then was that Chief M.K.O Abiola should be recognized as the champion of democracy upon which all of us believed that he was erroneously killed. Unfortunately for them, the are now in government and they were able to come to power through the legacy of May 29, which now happens to be the tradition of our democratic establishment in Nigeria. People are now waiting for June 12, to see how they will celebrate it. If June 12 is undermined, not well celebrated, it would mean that the progressives of yesterday, who happen to be in power today, are hypocrites, they only rode on the back of the problem and travail of Chief Abiola, to get to power. But this should not be strange to us, because even since the demise of Awolowo, most of them have been riding through the fame of Awolowo to get to power, but to the utter disappointment of the people, they have not been able to perform, even at 25 per cent capacity, as Awolowo would have done. Political campaigns are now reality of a mirage through which the masses are hoodwinked for the politicians to have their way. It is really unfortunate. One thing that really disgust me, the real patriots of Nigeria, is the double standard posture of many of our politicians, when things are not favorable for them, they identify with the masses, but when they are in control of power, some of the time they get nasty. Personally, I wouldn’t like such to happen to the All Progressives Congress(APC) government in Nigeria.
What is your assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy day address to the nation ?
In the real sense of it the peoples’ wishes are yet to be met by this government, because the issue of unpaid salaries, infrastructure in comatose and failure to provide basic amenities, to feel the impact of government is yet to be put in place. But in the areas of zero tolerance for corruption, they are yet to succeed , but they are on the right path. The argument is that the creation of an enabling environment should be paramount. And this is what this government should rightly do. Eevn the budget of N6.06 trillion is still a paper work because sourcing for the money to be able to fund the budget is still underway. But the situation of Nigeria is that of the bad past and the weak present. Bad past, in the sense that the PDP government really and actually bastardized the economy. The present state, faces the curse of the fall in the crude oil price which in the real sense has affected the budget, the feasibility of funding the budget without borrowing. However, political pundits want to know the amount recovered from the anti-corruption crusade, which government may not be sincere in its disclosure, because of one reason, the government itself has internal funding problems, through which its campaign was administered. Some individuals must have lent them the huge amount spent, which I believe the APC government will never declare. If part of the money is used to settle the internal debt of the party, the left over may not necessarily be sufficient enough to support the funding of the budget. If this is to be denied as a misconception, government owes it a huge duty and debt to reveal the names of the looters as well as the amount recovered from them so far. This is to correct possible misgivings from members of the public, for government to be able to maintain its credibility. It is not possible to give what you don’t have, although the broadcast of the President was full of complains against the peoples’ expectations. This is not to write them off, as not having achieved anything, because in the areas of fighting to have peace and curb terrorism, kudos must be given to them, as well as the Nigerian soldiers under Buratai. Government is duty bound to come out with palliatives and largesse to cushion the effect of the rising prices of good and commodities as a result of the unexpected increase in the pump rice of petrol from N86.50 to N145.00, because people are dying, getting sick and losing hope, which negates the essence of good governance. In the areas of generating jobs, our companies must be revived, but through functional power generation and supply, otherwise diversification of the economy to be embarked on may not be able to survive the challenges of the time. His speech, generally, has done well in the areas of raising our hopes, but with elements of frustration. The President and the Ministers must rise up to action quickly.