Shikirudeen Olofin, Chairman of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) in Lagos State, has taken a hard look at the 20 years of uninterrupted democracy and came up with a damning conclusion that nothing much has really changed.
He maintained that during this period, instead of the political leaders to rule according to the wishes of the people, they do not have the welfare of the people at heart,
Olofin, who also doubles as the chairman, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in the state, who spoke to NEXT EDITION in Lagos, maintained that although democracy is said to be the government of the people, by the people and for the people, in the last 20 years of the nation’s democracy, it has been the government of the few who do not have the interest of the people at heart.
He said: “On the 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, I have mixed feelings of good and bad. I have taken the meaning of democracy to be government of the people by the people and for the people. But, in Nigeria, democracy can be defined as the government of the people by the few.
“The elected officials are not accountable to the electorate. The people are elected through the power of money. We experience a high level of vote buying and force.”
The NNPP stalwart lamented that so far, as far as the political leaders are concerned, they do not take into consideration the yearnings and aspirations of the people, even as he maintained that the masses have been on the receiving end of whatever policies and programmes they come up with.
He added: “The choices of the masses are not always chosen. The masses are forced to support the choice of political gladiators. Nothing much comes to the people in terms of democracy dividends.
“How can we see the type of roads being constructed in this modern time and such government is seen as an achiever? Free education which is supposed to be the right of every child is still being celebrated as achievement.
“Government is being applauded for feeding children. It shows the level we are when we talk of democracy.”
Olofin maintained that the political leaders have so far not imbibed the democracy tenets, while the political parties are run like business arms and units of few people, who he said, dictate the activities that go on in the parties.
“They are the ones who decide who is governor, who goes to the Senate, House of Representatives, Houses of Assembly and the Local Government Chairmen, and even the President. The masses are on their beck and call.
“The leaders have not imbibed any democratic tenets. They refuse to untie themselves from the old politicians. The young and emerging politicians must be blessed by the old brigade. This is very wrong. At a point, we were clamouring for independent candidacy. If it had seen the day light, Nigeria would have become better for it democratically,” he told our Correspondent.
Olofin stressed that when one looks at all aspects of the nation there are still vestiges of the military 20 years after return to democracy, adding that “The only change is that they dropped khakhi and put on Babariga.
“They are still chairman of companies, community heads, traditional rulers, governors, senators, House of Representatives’ members. They are the political godfathers and decide who contests election and who does not.
“They are still holding the nation by the jugular. For instance, Muhammadu Buhari, Olusegun Obasanjo, David Mark, Jeremiah Useni, etc, are all ex-military officers and now politicians. The ex-military officers are the ministers.
“In fact, they are everywhere. You will see that the people cannot have much say. We still have impunity, disrespect for rule of law, giving instructions as if they are still in the barracks or are still ruling by decrees. Thus they do not practice real democracy.”