Minority leader and leader of the opposition All Progressive Congress in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has described the growth of Nigeria’s democracy as ‘stunted’, saying it is not worth celebrating.
The APC leader expressed this opinion during an exclusive interview with The
Nigerian Times in Abuja and added that God has blessed Nigeria with so much potential for growth but it is still acting like a toddler.
Democracy Day is a public holiday in Nigeria celebrated annually on May 29. The day commemorates the restoration of democracy in the country, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took office as the President of Nigeria, ending several decades of military rule that began in 1966 and was interrupted only by a brief period of
democracy from 1979 to 1983.
When asked if the country has anything to celebrate on this day, Gbajabiamila said: “Celebrate? I don’t think we have anything to celebrate. I know there are other people who feel we have a lot to celebrate but I don’t feel so.
“I said it last year and even the year before; this is a country that has so much potential, human and material, God has given us so much and we are still acting like toddlers.
“How can we celebrate stunted growth? When you have all the potentials to develop far beyond where we are today, we know where the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries were several years ago and we know where they are now and they didn’t even have what we have in Nigeria.
“Yes we can mark the Democracy day but definitely not celebrating it.
“There is a difference between ‘marking’ and ‘celebrating’, the English dictionary is very clear, you ‘celebrate’ when you are happy and rejoicing but you ‘mark’ something on the calendar and that is all we should be doing.”
According to him, everything boils down to the economy and when any country develops its economy, it will develop politically and every other thing will develop including job creation and security.
“All these things are tied together and are inseparable. When you get the economy right, every other thing can be added. Here you a nation that is so blessed and you find people who cannot have a meal a day; not three square meals but just one! You claim to be a giant yet your people cannot feed, your people cannot go to school, your people are not safe!
“A lot of people are misunderstanding this rebasing of the economy, Nigeria has been the largest economy in past years; it is not a new development just that it is now they did the rebasing.
“The population is great alongside other factors. But this has not trickled down to the grassroots. There is what is called ‘trickle down economy’ and we don’t have that. What we are is just the largest economy on paper and this amounts to nothing,” he insisted.
He urged the leadership of the country to act fast in the interest of the future.
“Look at what is happening in the schools, all over the world, it is believed that the school should be the safest place for the child but this is not so in Nigeria. Today it is the most dangerous place for the child to be in,” Gbajabiamila said.
However, another member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State and a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, Beni Lar disagreed with Femi Gbajabiamila when she said Nigerians must learn to look at the bright side and appreciate the country. She urged citizens and politicians to also learn to appreciate the government and also learn to contribute meaningfully to the discourse.
“We must say things that will cause the country to grow,” she insisted. Lar told The Nigerian Times that the country has made a lot of progress despite its numerous challenges.
She said: “It has been about 15 years into the new dispensation and we are really happy with the political stability of the nation.
“The Peoples Democratic Party government has done a lot in that regard to stabilize the polity of this nation. The PDP, which is the largest national party in Africa, is similar to the African National Congress in South Africa; not only have we stablized government but the economy is also growing.
“For the first time, Nigeria has become the largest economy in Africa and that means the political achievements have translated into economic growth and that speaks very well of our country.
“Yes we have our challenges, there is no country without challenges but our challenges are surmountable and we will overcome them especially that of terrorism.”
She added that the fact that Nigerians are some of the most talented people worldwide and doing very well in their endeavors is a reason to celebrate and for citizens to hold their heads up high.[share_this_post]
Another Member of Parliament representing Abia State on the platform of the ruling
PDP, Nnenna Ukeje agreed with Beni Lar.
Her words: “It is 15 years and we must celebrate our democracy.
“Initially our democracy was called nascent, it later became a fledgling democracy and now it is a democracy. I believe that in itself is progress.
“If democracy is a journey and we have spent only 16 years when compared to those of over 200 years, we have done well but there is really much more to be done. In this light we have a lot to celebrate because it also gave each and every one of us the right and the opportunity to choose the leadership that we want.”