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‘Endure this government but vote in credible, purposeful one in future’

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•‘Last five years of sorrow, tears and blood’
President of Arewa Youth for Progress and Development (AYPD), Comrade Danjuma Bello Sarki, speaks on the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to strengthen democracy in Nigeria in five years, noting also that lack of good leadership has robbed the country of sound socio-economic and political development. He spoke with SAXONE AKHAINE in Kaduna

Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, how strong would you say the country’s democracy has become?
Actually, I can say as a true Nigerian without mincing words that our expectation of the dividends of democracy has not been met since successive governments till date. But I will say that, as we go by, instead of our lots or the country becoming better, it has been dwindling. When we started the journey in 1999, there was hope that the nation will turn a new leaf, in terms of governance and good leadership. But since the current government came to power the country has been drawn backward. If you look at the different sectors today, you can see that this government has performed woefully.

If you look at the economy today, virtually all the indices promoting economic growth are in the negative, based on the performance of President Buhari’s government. Let us examine the issue of creation of jobs. A lot of people have lost their jobs from 2015 to date. And the government has not been able to create jobs. Also look at the area of foreign exchange; the naira has nose-dived, while inflation has crippled the whole economy. When this government took over in 2015, naira was slightly above N170 to a dollar. But today, it is above N400 to a dollar. Under a simple statistical calculation, inflation has risen more than 30 per cent since this government came into office. And look at the number of companies that have closed up in Nigeria – so many of them.

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And look at the foreign direct investment; it has also dwindled. A lot of foreigners are afraid to come to invest in Nigeria because of the economic instability, insecurity and lack of policy consistency by this government. Look at the agricultural sector. It has performed below
expectation under this government. There are no provisions of adequate farm inputs, like fertilizer. Prices have skyrocketed and, in most cases, not available to farmers. No sufficient tractors to farmers and pesticides have become only available to the rich farmers. Again, many big time and small farmers have closed up farms because of lack of farm inputs.

Look at the education sector also; it has really dwindled. The standard of education has fallen consistently in Nigeria. Imagine the security situation in this country too. Security, which is one of the three key-agenda of this government, has failed. When this government came to power in 2015, the security problem was only confined to the Northeast, but today there is problem of insecurity all over the country. Armed militia are attacking and killing a lot of people in Southern Kaduna; they are killing people in Sokoto, Zamfara and even in Katsina. There is kidnapping all over the nation. And the kidnappers are having a field day with government folding its arms.

If you also look at the fight against corruption of this government, it has been sectional. People who have been charged for corruption by this government have been given soft-landing. I will give you some instances. Look at the case of Timi Silva being charged for corruption and over 60 of his houses were confiscated, but this government gave him a clean bill and returned all the properties to him. Danjuma Goje was charged for corruption and he was given a soft-landing just because he decided to drop his ambition to be Senate President. And of recent, Uzor Kalu, who was convicted by a Federal High Ccourt was equally given a soft-landing by the Supreme Court. Just to tell you that this government has a hand in it, his seat in the Senate was not declared vacant after being in prison for over six months, and his salary was still going on and being paid. And his position as the Chief Whip was still intact. That is to tell you that this government’s hand was in it. After his conviction, there was a premeditated plan to free him. That was why he kept enjoying all those benefits.

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Look at the area of the rule of law. This government has abused the rule of law in many ways. It does not obey the rule of law or court judgments or orders. They use corruption to harass people who are against its policies. I can tell you some instances where this government refused to obey the rule of law. We had the issue of Dasuki, Sowore, Saraki, and El-Zakzaky. Because this government has refused to obey democratic tenets is why Nigerians are living in fear, wallowing in poverty and the country moving backward.

Despite the socio-economic woes you have expressed under the Buhari administration, can you assess the country’s democratic future?
You see, I believe Nigeria has a great democratic future. Beyond the government of Buhari today, we cannot say all Nigerians are bad or that we don’t have capable hands to lead the country. We do have capable hands that can bring us out of these socio-political and economic woes, and bring us into progress and development. We have capable hands that can perform credibly well. But the problem is that they will not allow them to come to power. And you can see the ignoble role that is being played by our Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies when it comes to rigging elections, when it comes to encouraging malpractices in our electoral processes, and these have always hindered us from having good leaders in this country. People that would be able to discharge their responsibilities in providing good governance to Nigerians and the leadership that everybody would be proud of.

I can tell you that Nigeria has a brighter democratic future, but that will only be possible when we put sentiments aside, when we put selfishness aside and elect a leaders who are reputable and credible, and who are coming from a very sound background and track record that can provide those leadership qualities that we have been yearning for. But as far as this government is concerned, I can say that in the last five years they have delivered nothing, rather than sorrow, tears and blood that we have been experiencing in this country. And the only way Nigerians can begin to have a breath of fresh air is by ensuring that we to endure this government and vote in a more credible and purposeful government in future.

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In this article:
AYPDDanjuma Bello Sarki
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