Some residents of Lagos on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to initiate policies and programmes that would enable Nigerians to enjoy more dividends of democracy.
The residents made the call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos as Nigeria marked its 59th Independence Anniversary.
A civil servant, Mr Oluwatomi Lawal, said that it was commendable that Nigeria had steadily sustained and nurtured its democracy since 1999.
“It is obvious that Nigeria is not yet there in terms of democratic development when compared with other advanced countries but I think we have made some giant strides towards sustaining democratic governance, which was an offshoot of the nation’s independence.
“Independence centers on democracy, which is all about people, freedom and development. Our government should do more to ensure that citizens enjoy more of the dividends of democracy,’’ he said.
Another resident, Mr Ebenezer Ajayi, told NAN that though the country was progressing in its democratic process, corruption still posed the biggest challenge.
Ajayi blamed corruption for the myriad of the nation’s problems, making it difficult for ordinary Nigerians to enjoy dividends of democracy as obtained in developed countries.
“Although, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is now working to solve the problem, there is need to adopt more tactical and pragmatic way of addressing it.’’ he said.
He urged the government to cut down high cost of governance and invest more in infrastructure and capital projects so as to boost the economy.
According to him, it is through provision capital projects like road infrastructure, housing, electricity, among others, that people can start feeling the presence and impacts the government.
“Most federal and state roads are in a very poor state. There is no road in the country that is free of potholes.
“This does not speak well about the government. So, as a matter of urgency, the government should step up its game in terms of infrastructure development. A lot of Nigerians do not have access to a decent house/accommodation.
“Following the Federal Government’s initiative to tackle housing deficit through nationwide housing construction under the National Housing Programme, which some states including Lagos are yet to benefit from due to lack of available/allocated land space.
“It therefore becomes pertinent that the federal government mandate every state to provide land for the housing programme so that more Nigerians can have access to decent houses – as a way of improving people’s living standard,” he said.
Ajayi also canvassed for result-oriented strategies to address insurgency and other issues concerning insecurity in the country.
On his part, Mr David Onyekelu, a business man, said that Nigeria’s democracy was gradually developing after 2o years of non- interference by the military.
“So far, so good, there are quite some improvements, but Nigeria’s government hasn’t got it right in this regard, coupled with what happened from the first, second, third and this present republic which started in 1999.
“Some blame it on past military rulers, whereas the rate of corruption under the civilian is alarming.
“By and large, some facts can’t be eroded in Nigeria’s nascent democracy; it’s characterised by nepotism, favouritism, ethnicity and religious bigotry and lack of political will of most of its leaders,’’ he said.
Onyekelu added that there is still hope for Nigeria, stressing that with commitment on the part of the leaders, Nigeria would get to greater heights by fighting corruption without discrimination.
He also advised the federal government and political leaders to listen to the voice of the people, saying that independence “is all about the people’’.
“When Barack Obama became U.S President, he assembled competent people that eventually put the government on track and regained citizens’ confidence.
“In as much as we want to go far in our independence, we must embrace constructive criticism, listen to advice and pick out the best.’’
Onyekelu also urged the government to reduce the cost of governance, saying that the cost of running presidential system of government was quite enormous.
“I will advise the government to replace the current system of bicameral legislature with unicameral system which is cost-effective.
“Apart from the running cost, it is a duplication of offices as the only thing that separates the two is just the aspect of ministerial and ambassadorial screening.
“This can be handled by either of the houses if these offices are reduced by 50 per cent and the funds chanelled to other sectors of the economy.
“It will reduce waste of time and all other unnecessary bureaucracies in getting tasks accomplished as most functions of the Senate are almost the same as House of Representatives,’’ he said.
He, therefore, urged the citizenry to give necessary support to the present administration and offer constructive criticism so as to put government on its toes to avoid mistakes of the past administrations.