Most Nigerians observed on Monday that democracy has proved to be the best system of government that has come to stay in Nigeria.
They spoke with the NAN across the country, although some expressed mixed feelings about the performance of democracy in the last 18 years.
For instance, Prof. Chika Aliyu, an economist, commended the Federal Government on the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (ERGP) as President Muhammadu Buhari marked second year in office.
Aliyu, a lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, said the government did very well by coming up with the plan to take the country out of recession.
According to him, the ERGP aims at making significant progress to achieve structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy in five key areas by 2020.
He, however, advised the government to ensure effective implementation of the plan, commending the government for investing in agriculture as well.
Also, in his view, Mr Najeem Salaam, the Speaker of Osun House of Assembly, said democracy had come to stay in Nigeria and its worst form was better than the best of other options.
But the speaker urged politicians in power to show compassion to the poor populace and strive to bail out people in need as a mark of responsible leadership.
He also called on the people to engage the political class with issues of general interests, saying an individual challenges fell within the bracket of societal challenges.
Applauding the success of democracy so far, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, the speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, noted that Buhari and Gov. Tanko Almakura of the state had achieved progress in their respective levels of leadership.
He said that democracy had proved to be the best form of government, considering the dividends of democratic government as well as the tremendous achievements the country had witnessed in it.
He urged Nigerians to continue to support a democratic government for continued peace and stability in the country.
“The two years in office of Buhari are fruitful because he has been able to achieve his campaign promises.
“This is visible especially in the areas of tackling insecurity, unemployment and the diversification of the nation’s economy through agriculture.
“Peace has been restored in the country as no local government in the north-eastern part of the country is under the Boko Haram insurgents’ control as it was in the past.
“Some Chibok girls have been rescued, there is employment of youths among other achievements that have direct bearing on the lives of Nigerians,’’ he said.
In Lokoja, some residents lauded Buhari for improving agricultural practice, fighting corruption and insecurity.
However, some observed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government performed below expectations in the areas of economy, power, job creation and education.
Dr Godwin Tijani, the Chairman Nigeria Medical Association in Kogi, said Nigeria’s democracy was far from perfect as selfishness and greed was the order of the day, especially among the past leaders.
“I want to remind the masses that 2019 is around the corner and I advise them to use their votes to elect their representative and to send bad ones packing,’’ he said.
He urged the public to pray for leaders for good governance, appealing to them not to lose hope as God would rescue Nigeria from bad leaders.
But Mr Kayode Dennis, a former Secretary to Mopamuro Local Government Area, Kogi, said even though government at all levels might have performed below expectations of Nigerians; there was a reason for celebrating the country’s democracy day.
“We must educate the people on the importance of participating in the political process and to encourage younger people to value the rights for which so many people worked so hard.
“The fact remains that we should not pretend to stay away from politics because that is the instrument of governance in Nigeria which has come to stay,” Dennis said.
Irrespective of this, Mr Joel Usman, a lawyer, said the APC led Federal Government had recorded some successes in some areas like security, tackling corruption and recovery of some looted funds.
“This administration has tried in addressing the insurgency in the north-eastern part of the country and there’s decency in government today compared to the past governments.
“Although the manner of fighting against corruption is not commendable but corruption has reduced in government at the federal level but very much alive at the state level.
Similarly, an engineer in Lokoja, Mr Olabisi Alonge, insisted that Buhari has recorded an appreciable success in the area of security and fight against corruption and he should be commended.
“I stayed in northern part of the country and I knew the hell of insecurity in that place in the past and corruption is being checked now.
Also, a parent in Mupamuro Local Government Area, Kogi, Mr Obed Onibiyo, commended Buhari for his effort in the fight against corruption and insurgencies in the country.
He particularly commended the giant stride of Buhari’s government in securing the release of Chibok School girls and urged him to intensify effort in the release of the remaining girls.
But in Plateau, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, member representing Kantana state constituency in the Plateau House of Assembly, urged leaders at various levels to show good governance and better delivery of the dividends of democracy to the people.
He challenged Nigerian leaders to use this year’s Democracy Day to reflect on the need to give the electorate purposeful leadership.
“Nigeria is today enjoying 18 years of uninterrupted civil rule; we have never had such a lengthy spell of democracy, so, it worth celebrating.
“As a politician, I feel another time has come for leaders to begin to reflect as to whether or not we have truly given to the people dividends of democracy.
“So, it is a time for us to draw a balance sheet and see areas we have not done well, so as to adjust and meet up with the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
“Plateau today can boast of viable infrastructure, good socio-economic activities, virile work force as a result of prompt payments of salaries and incentives,’’ he said.
He urged government to encourage more people’s oriented programmes that would have direct bearing on the lives of the citizens.
He also urged citizens of the state to support government in its bid to deliver on dividends of democracy for the betterment of the public.
To sustain democratic governance, Mrs Morenike Alaka, Caretaker Chairperson, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State, urged politicians to protect the nascent democracy in the country.
She said giving support to the masses was a way of extending the dividends of democracy which should be given utmost priority by politicians.
She also urged all Nigerians to continue to pray for the leaders for them to pilot the affairs of the country, states and local councils to enviable heights.
“Our politicians have a huge task of protecting our nascent democracy because we do not have any other place than Nigeria.
“Politicians should also make the masses to benefit from the dividends of democracy and the masses should endeavour to pray for leaders in piloting the affairs,’’ she said.
Mrs Alaka also said her administration was poised to roll out masses oriented programes which would extend the dividends of democracy to the residents of the council.