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Political Overview Of Nigeria: Looking Towards the Future (Reviewed, 12th Nov 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

On October 1, 2003, Nigerians celebrated 43 years of independence and 124 days in office of the new set of democratically elected civilian administrators. On April 12 and 19, 2003, Nigerians proved the bookmakers wrong by conducting a peaceful civilian to civilian transition election, though, the election was locally and internationally decried as not free and fair. With a history scarred by military incursions in governance, Nigerians were ready to accept the results of somewhat flawed elections rather than a return to any form of  military rule.

Nigerians thus have enough reasons to be elated, though much of the promises made by the re-elected President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to the electorate between 1999 and 2003 are yet to materialise. These promises include an improved economy, clampdown on corruption, diversification of the economy, smooth executive-legislative relationship, infrastructural development, security of lives and property, employment creation, among others.

The last 4 years have been years of many minuses and some pluses. Fuel queues and increments in pump prices intermittently came back, strikes by both NLC and ASUU have hardly ceased, basic social infrastructures are yet to improve; state of insecurity of lives and property exists (i.e. the first 3 years); unemployment still looms large, social strife, religious rioting in certain areas of the country, the continuing parlous state of the educational sector, concise strategy to inhibit the spread of HIV/AIDS is not in place, inability of the government at the grass root (local government councils) to deliver on any form of governance, lack of local government elections; frictions between the Federal Executives and the National Assembly.

On the positive side the country held a successful GSM, Global System of Mobile Communication, bid. This singular development has improved the Nigerian business environment and added an extra 2.5 million telephone lines. The stigma of being a Pariah state has been removed; electricity generation has become better; certain government activities, like bidding for contracts has become more transparent; democracy has allowed for freedom of expression and association; the judiciary has performed wonderfully in adjudicating and interpreting the Nigerian Constitution.

On May 29, 2003, new set of civilian administrators were sworn-in at both the State and Federal Government level. The election held in April, 2003 saw the apparent emergence of the one party state in the country. The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, became a monolithic party having majority seats at the National Assembly, highest number of sitting Governors and controlling the central government.

Upon re-election, President Olusegun Obasanjo made bold policy changes with the introduction of the monetization policy which converts into cash all benefits accruable to political office holders and federal civil servants and proposed civil service reforms. His planned local government reform has stalled local government elections and feelers points to the appointment of local administrators. The Senator Adolphus Wabara-led Senate and Honorable Aminu Masari-led House of Representatives seem to be having a cordial relationship with the executives, which is a major improvement considering the friction that existed between erstwhile Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and Speaker Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba and the Presidency.

On the international scene President Obasanjo is making waves. He effectively doused the coup situation in Sao Tome and Precipe, he granted political asylum to the ousted Liberia leader, Charles Taylor in Calabar, a town in the South South zone of Nigeria. He was honoured with the visit of President George Bush of the United States, the third American President in 27 years to visit the country. He has placed Nigeria on the continental and global calendar with the hosting of the 8th All Africa Games tagged COJA 2003 held in Abuja in October. By December Nigeria will again host the Head of State of the Commonwealth nations, CHOGM, in Abuja.

On July 10, 2003, Nigeria’s democracy was jolted when the Government House of Anambra State was taken over by the Governor's political opponents in a clear case of treason when the elected Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige was abducted by Assistant Inspector-General (AIG), Zone 9, Umuahia, Mr. Raphael Ige on the false premise that he resigned from office. This was a negative smear on Nigeria’s fledgling democracy and a danger signal for proactive actions for the future. The problem of incessant fuel price hike experienced during the last 4 years still persists with a vengeance. The call for nationwide strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC over the fuel increments has continuously disrupted economic activities in the country.

Nigeria’s federal government now appears to have a better focus at attacking the country’s myriad political and economic problems, with a critical mass of tested and credible technocrats manning most crucial ministries. It is hoped that this focus will be matched with the boldness, vigour and discipline that translates potential to reality.

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