June 12: Nigerian democracy has failed to provide dividends since adoption — CNG

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has called for sober reflection on Nigeria’s democracy and democratization process as the country marks 2024 Democracy Day.

The CNG observed that democracy, as practiced in Nigeria, has failed to provide its dividends to the people after two and a half decades of practice.

The pro-northern group contended that despite the nation’s richness in natural and human resources, Nigerians continue to suffer from abject poverty and economic instability, which were not experienced even during military dictatorships.

A statement signed by the National Coordinator of CNG, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the poverty rate in Nigeria stands at an alarming 63%, with over 133 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty.

Similarly, the NBS disclosed that unemployment has reached a stunning 33.3 per cent in the country, while youth unemployment is at an unprecedented over 50 per cent, leaving young Nigerians devoid of decent jobs or sustainable means of livelihood.

“In the same vein, before returning to democracy, Nigeria’s inflation was just 10%, while now, in a free democratic setting, inflation has risen to an all-time high of 33.69%, depleting people’s purchasing power and weakening their standard of living; whereas the interest rate has sharply risen from 6.05% in 1999 to 26.25% in 2024, suggesting tighter monetary policy in the midst of high inflation and economic challenges.

“It is on record that the number of out-of-school children has increased from 7.4 million in 1999 to 18.5 million in 2024, highlighting a severe decline in educational accessibility over the past 25 years of our democratic engagements.

“Disgustingly, job racketeering to the highest bidder, inflating contracts, and kickback collection by political elites and senior civil servants have irrevocably decayed our civil service at all levels, resulting in the destruction of the fabric of Nigeria as a country with a lot of potential”.

The CNG argued that these economic challenges are a direct result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and a lack of genuine commitment to the development of the Nigerian economy by those who have sworn by the holy scriptures to promote good governance.

“Unfortunately, over the years, the Nigerian economy has been bastardized and surrendered to the Bretton Wood institutions of the IMF and World Bank through the removal of subsidies in healthcare, education, energy, etc.

“Consequently, unpatriotic leaders and capitalist-backed technocrats who continue to propagate a free-market economy devoid of government interventions suddenly lose their voices and relevance.

“The minimum wage has drastically decreased in value from the equivalent of $195 in 1981 to only $21.22 today, indicating a substantial erosion of purchasing power and economic hardship for low-income workers.

“Fuel prices have seen a dramatic increase from N20 per liter in 1999 to N701.24 per liter in 2024, reflecting severe inflation and apparent antipeople economic policies from the beneficiaries of democracy since 1999. Diesel prices have surged to N1415.06 in 2024, which is significantly higher than in 1999, indicating a steep rise in energy costs,” CNG noted.

CNG further stated that it is evident that democracy in Nigeria only works for politicians and senior civil servants, while Nigerians continue to languish in poverty and misery.

“Suffice it to say that politicians, senior civil servants, and top defense and security heads have not only cornered the country to serve them but also are deploying their amassed wealth to restrict the dividends of democracy in Nigeria.

“It is regrettable that under democratic dispensation, destitution and pauperization have been deliberately entrenched in Nigeria due to the relegation of our economic planning and strategies to the dictates of capitalist, neoliberal, racist, and imperial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

ALSO READ:AfDB: We’re qualified for special agro project — Zamfara govt

“The CNG observed that the exchange rate of our Naira against the US dollar has depreciated drastically from N84.70 in 1999 to N1,479.69 in 2024, pointing to severe devaluation of the currency; public debt has escalated from around N3 trillion in 1999 to N97.34 trillion in 2024, highlighting a significant increase in the country’s borrowing and debt burden.

“Also, prior to our return to democracy in 1999, oil production has decreased from 2.21 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.28 million bpd in 2024, indicating a decline in one of our major sources of revenue.

“Tragically, according to the United Nations, over 35,000 have been killed in the North East insurgency under the watchful eyes of the leaders that claim to promote democracy. In the same vein, the Global Observatory said about 15,000 have been killed in the North West alone.

“Additionally, millions of people, including women and children, have been rendered internally displaced persons (IDPs). This unprecedented catastrophe has been normalized in Nigeria’s democracy.

“It is rather despicable that our democracy in Nigeria has been hijacked by a select few who prioritize their personal gain over the collective good of the nation. Corruption is endemic, and accountability is almost non-existent, deeply entrenched in our political system.

“As we observe this Democracy Day, the CNG calls on all Nigerians to reflect on the state of our nation and question the effectiveness of our democratic system. It is evident that democracy, in its current form, has failed to deliver on its promises of development, security, and prosperity for all Nigerians, as only a select few politicians and senior civil servants amass questionable wealth while bequeathing depravity to the masses.

“Therefore, as Nigeria marks 25 years of continuous democratic sojourn, we must engage in a candid reflection to domesticate this democracy or design a system that aligns with our tradition, culture, and history, which is capable of providing security, promoting economic development, and fostering true people’s participation.”

Source:

Tribune Online