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Democracy Day notes

Democracy Day notes
June 13
10:22 2023

“How was your Democracy Day?”

“I woke up early, listened to President Bola Tinubu’s nationwide address, and I went about my daily affairs.”

“Yesterday was a public holiday. You were expected to stay at home and have a good rest.”

“I can understand if some people enjoyed the holiday, after all, it is now more expensive to buy litres of fuel for your vehicle. As things are right now, Nigerians would jump at any opportunity to save fuel costs. Those days of going about like smallpox are gone. People now calculate how they move about. But people like us who always have one thing or the other to do, we have no option. We have to keep the hustle alive. The hustle is real, men.”


“Some people don’t know how to relax in this country, and you are one of them. By the time the high cost of fuel drills holes in your pocket, you will adjust.”

“How does one relax? How can anyone in this pressure cooker of a society in which we have found ourselves relax? What has democracy brought us?”

“A lot. We are no longer under the shackles of military rule.”


“Democratic rule is better measured in terms of its dividends. Where are the dividends?”

“I can point to a few. Democracy has given the people the power to choose their own leaders. It has created a new set of leaders. We are in the seventh transition within the Fourth Republic. In 1993, the military may have annulled the Presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola and denied the people the Hope that he promised them, but here we are in 2023, President Tinubu says he is determined to restore Hope.”

“I saw the same connection that you are trying to draw in President Tinubu’s speech yesterday. I have also heard some people saying that Tinubu and MKO share common traits. You know, I have this gut feeling that the comparison may be overstretched.”

“Tinubu was part of the pro-democracy struggle. He stood at the barricades. When he talks about Democracy Day, he has the requisite credentials to do so.”


“I sort of like the speech though. The only part I find funny is the reference to Arnold Toynbee. Has Tinubu ever read Toynbee? His speech writers should make him sound natural. They should maintain a consistent tone that projects his ownership of the thoughts. One of these days, they would even make him quote Noam Chomsky. Ha Ha. Ha. But in terms of sentiments, the speech was on point”

“My brother, don’t worry about quotations. Leaders are allowed to show knowledge. Tinubu can even quote Socrates if he wishes. My own take-away is that the President paid tribute to MKO Abiola, as hero and martyr of democracy, the man who stood for democracy, and whose sacrifice became the catalyst for Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in 1999. The President has asked us to embrace the idea of sacrifice and emulate Abiola and that his government will reward us all with infrastructure, and welfare programmes. He also paid tribute to the heroes of democracy.”

“We are all used to that rhetoric. That is the same rhetoric that has been drummed into our ears since states of the South West began to celebrate Democracy Day on May 29, until the Federal Government separated May 29, the day of presidential inauguration from June 12, which the Buhari administration set aside as Democracy Day and National Holiday. That is one good thing President Buhari did. He also gave MKO, a post-humous GCFR award. But who has sacrifice helped in this country? What has been the gain of the MKO Abiola family? What has anybody done for them? What has anybody done for the families of all the other heroes and heroines who led the struggle for Nigeria’s “second independence” as Tinubu calls it. Joe Igbokwe has written a useful book titled Heroes of Democracy (1999) in which he provides a comprehensive list of persons who participated in the June 12 struggle, and those who died. Remember the founding General Secretary of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Chima Ubani. Remember Bagauda Kaltho. Remember those four young men who hijacked a Nigeria Airways Airbus A310, in October 1993 in protest against the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election. They were teenage students of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).”

“What are you driving at? Neither MKO Abiola nor his supporters resisted military tyranny because they wanted to die so that their families could benefit.”


“Have you ever heard of any revolutionary, change-agent or defender of progressive causes who sets out to die as an ambition? Such persons are often consumed by the contradictions of their societies and their times. But they leave lessons behind. They alter the course of history for good. Please, tell me: have we learnt any lessons from Nigeria’s debacle between 1993 and 1999, and after?”

“Societies evolve”


“And in what direction is Nigeria evolving?”

“We have hope”


“Hope. What hope? In 1993, Abiola’s slogan was “Hope 93”. In 2023, 30 years later, Tinubu is still looking for that hope. He wants to capture and restore it. In 1993, Abiola preached a message of “farewell to poverty”. In 2023, that same poverty has developed such roots and metastasized so badly like a cancerous organ, we are now told it has a new identity: multidimensional poverty. I guess 30 years is long enough for anything to become multidimensional.”

“You should learn to look at the positive side of things”.


“I am trying. In 1993, before the Babangida administration stopped the announcement of results, the then National Electoral Commission (NEC) had reported that Abiola was leading in 19 out of 30 states and the Federal Capital Territory: all the states in the South West, 5 of the 9 Northern states including Kano; 3 out of the 7 states in the South East, and 4 out of the seven states in the Middle Belt. Abiola ran on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Ethnicity did not matter. Religion was not an issue. It is a crying shame that 30 years later, Nigeria has gone back in history. Today, the politics of ethnicity and religion has divided the country. We have gone from bad to worse.”

“1993 is not 2023, my friend. The times have changed. Our democracy continues to grow.”

“Tell me how”

“Today for example, on the 13th day of June, in the year of our Lord 2023, President Tinubu shall proclaim the inauguration of Nigeria’s 10th National Assembly and the lawmakers shall choose their own leaders”

“Very good. A major event immediately after President Tinubu’s first Democracy Day in office. Have you been reading the news?”

“What about the news? Journalists are always spinning the news to suit their own biases and the expectations of their sponsors.”

“Don’t say that. Journalists hold a mirror up to society. The leadership race in the National Assembly has been dogged by so-called party supremacy, the hypocrisy of the political elite, rancour, corruption, division and manipulations. Quite typical.”

“Nothing will happen. It shall be well. The APC has spoken. Tinubu has spoken.”

“Spoken what? Are you not aware that there are aggrieved parties who are ready to assert the independence of the legislative arm of government? In fact, are you not aware that the Chairman of the ruling APC advised the anointed persons for positions of presiding officers to arrive early at the Assembly or camp out there overnight to prevent what happened in 2015 under similar circumstances?”

“What happened in 2015?”

“Go and find out. You see why this country needs to teach History at all levels? A grown-up man like you does not know the contemporary political history of his own country.”

“Don’t insult me. Please leave history alone. Am I looking for a job in the civil service? Am I going for a Quiz competition? As we speak, do you know how much would have been distributed overnight to all the aggrieved lawmakers? Money talks, my brother. As money speaks, the numbers will add up. I am hungry, please. Where can we find something to eat?”

“Go to Oye-Ekiti where Damilola Adeparusi, aka Chef Dammy is trying to break Hilda Baci’s 100-hour cook-a-thon. I hear she has been cooking for more than 80 hours and that her target is to beat Tata Tandon and Hilda Baci. In Oye-Ekiti, food is ready.”

“Nigeria is a wonderful place. We haven’t even heard from the Guinness Book of World Records on Hilda Basi’s marathon effort, now someone else is trying to compete with her for the record.”

“I don’t think Dammy is competing with Hilda. Imitation, they say, is the best form of flattery. You better start heading towards Oye-Ekiti. I am sure there would be piping hot amala and pounded yam on offer.”

“There is a difference between a cook and a chef. Hilda looks to me like a chef. I would say Dammy is a cook.”

“There is no such difference. Both prepare food for human consumption”

“Flavour is important. You want to compare food that is prepared in Oye-Ekiti, to food that is prepared in Lagos? You want to compare Maybach to Toyota Corolla?”

“Come off it, my friend. Both ladies deserve to be encouraged.”

“Okay, if you can’t go to Oye-Ekiti, maybe you can make it to Ibadan where I hear one Temitope Adebayo, has also announced plans to cook for 140 hours to beat both Hilda Baci and Dammy. At this rate, they will turn this whole country into a kitchen oh. It has even been reported that Woli Arole is also looking for a place in the Guinness World Record. He is looking at a 5000-hour prayer marathon. He says he will announce a commencement date very soon.”

“Lobatan ooh. Nigeria, we hail thee! As some people are cooking, others want to pray. Do you think all this cook-a-thon, pray-a-thon has anything to do with the removal of fuel subsidy? Is there money attached to the Guinness World Record? Are Nigerians depressed?”

“I don’t know. But in case you change your mind, just make sure you don’t eat ponmo anywhere, no matter how well prepared”

“Ponmo ke? You can’t be serious. I like my ponmo, especially when it is soft, well-peppered, subsumed inside vegetable sauce, and combined with snails, both exciting the palate in a manner that makes you forget all the troubles of the world. Then give me palm wine or a chilled bottle of Shine Shine Bobo, Star Lager to push it down the gut…”

“Ole! Just don’t go and kill yourself. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has advised that people should stop eating hides, smoked meat and bush meat because of an outbreak of anthrax disease in the West African sub-region. You will just fall sick by eating what you are not supposed to eat.”

“Na lie. I have been eating ponmo since I was a child. The Federal Government guys think they can lie to us to save animal hides and skins for leather production. They lie too much. The leather and tannery industry in Nigeria is practically dead. They want to stop our delicacy so they can get more materials for export. I am sure somebody in the Ministry is looking out for his or her own interest.”

“Just be careful. You may not trust government. But it is not every time that they tell lies for selfish reasons.”

“Don’t worry yourself. I can’t travel to Ibadan or Oye-Ekiti just to go and eat ponmo. The food won’t be free, anyway. And it is expensive getting petrol these days.”

“Nigerians are not protesting. We all seem to have adjusted. The beauty of this country lies in the people’s resilience. No matter what hardship life throws at us, we all manage to survive. We are under a special kind of spell.”

“We are just people of hope, that’s all. Which is why it bothers me to no end that some motorcyclists in, as far away as Cameroon are already protesting over the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria. I saw a video in which they were purportedly abusing President Tinubu for removing fuel subsidy. What is their own in the matter?”

“There you have it, a strong justification for the fuel subsidy removal. Nigeria practically subsidizes fuel consumption in other West African countries. We are the Father Christmas of the region in everything because our leaders have not implemented the right policies over the years. If we get things right, we would be fine. Cameroonians are fighting over fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria. Can you imagine that, when state governments in Nigeria are beginning to ask people to work three days a week, because of fuel subsidy?”

“Which states are those?”

“Edo and Kwara. But it looks like other states will soon join the bandwagon. Edo has added N10, 000 to the minimum wage in the state but what is N10, 000 when organized labour is asking for a minimum wage of N200, 000.”

“Increasing the minimum wage won’t solve the problem. There are far more fundamental issues that must be addressed, and they have made the mistake of putting the cart before the horse.”


“Tinubu and his people. You know I have always said I don’t understand why anybody would want to be President of Nigeria at this time. The trouble for this country too much. As you are trying to solve one, another one is rearing its head.”

“But we all need more money at this time. In fact, the private sector should be asked to increase the minimum pay too.”

“It is a double-edged sword. If businesses are compelled to increase wages, they may have no option but to sack workers. There will be massive lay-offs. Government itself may not be able to pay. Chaos. Wahala.”

“There is money. President Tinubu has just approved students’ loans. He made that promise. He has kept it. He did not just hit the ground running. Omo, he is beginning to fly!”

“Why are we like this in this country?”

“Just watch. Tinubu may turn out to be the magician we have been looking for.”

“I have no opinion on that, until the matter before the tribunal is resolved.”

“Dey there oh. Keep waiting. No be Nigeria?”

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.

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