Democracy Day: Electricity Bill Is Larger Than My Salary

Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Today has been declared a public holiday by the Nigerian Government to mark Democracy Day. May 29 used to be the Democracy Day until the then President Muhammadu Buhari put forward June 12 as the real McCoy.

The greatest piece of fiction written in Nigeria since the publication of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart back in 1958 was the fantastic yarn that promoted May 29 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
Some of us are even hard put coming to terms that there is civil rule in Nigeria let alone democracy.

At the very least, to practice democracy a country has to first boast of democrats.
Where are the democrats here?

I can’t see them, not even with the aid of binoculars and the microscope. Maybe Nigerian democrats are much smaller than lower animals and organisms like amoeba such that they cannot be seen with the naked eyes!

May 29, 1999, ought to have been reserved as a special day of mourning in Nigeria, for it’s on this benighted day that all the hopes of the enthronement of democracy were buried in the mausoleum of military legerdemain. The military class who foisted General Olusegun Obasanjo on hapless Nigerians killed democracy on the altar of what has come to be known by the maverick musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti as “Army Arrangement.”

It is cool by me that the annulment of the June 12 1993 election by the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida makes more meaning as a date to crow about democracy. But the question has to be asked: Where is the democracy in this land?

The idea had been that nothing can ever be worse than Buhari as a representative of democracy, or lack thereof. But Buhari did cryptically prophesy that he would be missed after he’s gone.

A lot of blokes here in Nigeria are already missing Buhari. Truth to tell, most Nigerians in Buhari’s time could pay their electricity bills with their monthly salaries.

I have to admit ruefully that the electricity bill I have to pay monthly is larger than my take-home pay. Every Nigerian is now perforce coerced to be corrupt in order to survive in this stone country.

When only the electricity bill is larger than one’s salary, where does any Nigerian get the quid to pay the school fees of the children?

The government is only interested in lavishing all of $21 billion in the construction of the vice-president’s lodge. Even as the people cannot find the money to buy food, the government forks out all of $90 billion to subsidize the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Most Nigerians can no longer pay their house rents, but the government boasts of the financial muscle to buy super-duper cars for ill-assorted executive politicians and legislators and their swingers in the judiciary.

Hungry Nigerians are forever left under the scorching sun to watch the multi-vehicle convoys of the terrorists of Nigerian power.

It ought to be Democracy Day today, but the politicians in power exercise more dictatorship than the military barons of the past.

Journalists are kidnapped and hurled into the gulags with authoritarian abandon. There is neither check nor balance in the so-called democracy. All the sacred values of democracy have been bastardized in good old Nigeria.
Credible elections are the exception rather than the rule.

The odd characters deluding themselves with the wild celebration of 25 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria belong to the Theatre of the Absurd.
These people who take pride in subverting the people’s will make believe they are deceiving God; whence there readymade exclamation of God’s holy name after every electoral heist of their manufacture.

In this republic of lies, our politicians clearly display that they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.
Leadership is progressively worse, and every succeeding election breaks more rules than the previous one. It has all tuned towards the glorification of raw power.

All kinds of hangers-on are clinging on to the bandwagon of duplicity and chicanery. The palpable fear is that it will all end in violence, for as Bob Marley sang, “total destruction is the only solution.”

The chosen fat cats parading themselves as ruling Nigerian politicians can for now have their parties and wild orgies, but the day of reckoning is surely around the corner.

This article should be read as an obituary for their so-called Democracy Day which is being celebrated as a non-event.

Nepotism is all the rage, and ethnicity and religion have been put on the front burner. What the government finds most fitting to bring about change is to revert to the colonial anthem penned by our colonial masters.

The aboriginal anthem has the necessary provocative tenors of tribe and native land quite fitting for the jumping monkeys of colony worship, the IMF, the World Bank, and the CIA.

What can I say better than Chinua Achebe who wrote: “Our 1960 national anthem, given to us as a parting gift by a British housewife in England, had called Nigeria ‘our sovereign motherland’. The current anthem, put together by a committee of Nigerian intellectuals and actually worse than the first one, invokes the father image. But it has occurred to me that Nigeria is neither my mother nor my father. Nigeria is a child. Gifted, enormously talented, prodigiously endowed and incredibly wayward.”

Let me end with the classic song put on vinyl by the band Kansas: “Carry on, my wayward son…”

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