Fashola criticizes origins of Nigeria’s democracy, highlights military influence

Babatunde Fashola, former Lagos State governor has sparked a conversation on the true roots of Nigeria’s democracy, describing it as a product of dictatorship rather than the free will of its citizens.

Fashola made these remarks on Wednesday at The Platform Nigeria, an event organized by the Covenant Nation Church in Lagos to commemorate Democracy Day 2024.

Themed “Democracy and Free Market,” the event saw Fashola highlighting the paradoxical origins of Nigeria’s democratic and economic reforms.

He pointed out that the nation’s democratic journey began under autocratic conditions, with the military playing a pivotal role in both the political and economic spheres.

Reflecting on Nigeria’s democratic history, Fashola stated, “Clearly, the reason we are converging here today did not evolve from free will. It emerged from a dictatorial arena. Our democratic experience was midwife by dictatorship, not by something we participated in by our own free will. Dictatorial actions led to the emergence of what we converge to celebrate 25 years later.”

Fashola drew attention to the landmark June 12, 1993, election, often hailed as Nigeria’s freest and fairest election, which was annulled by the military regime.

He recounted how this election transcended ethnic and regional lines, instilling a sense of unity among Nigerians.

“June 12 was like any other day until 1993 because of the way people voted, and what happened… Even the elites of Nigeria decided that it was an election that we were to pay any price for, and many did pay the price,” Fashola noted.

He also highlighted the influence of the military on Nigeria’s economic policies, specifically through the Privatisation and Commercialisation Decree No. 25 of 1988, later amended in 1999.

This decree marked the beginning of the country’s shift towards a free market economy, underscoring the military’s role in shaping the nation’s economic landscape.

“That might surprise some of us. And I make the point that there is a decree called decree no 25 of 1988 later amended in 1999 known as the privatisation and commercialisation decree. That is the place that our journey to a free market started from,” Fashola explained.

While Fashola refrained from delving deeper into the specifics of his argument, his speech has sparked a broader discussion about the complexities of Nigeria’s path to democracy and economic liberalization, both heavily influenced by military rule.

As Nigeria marks another Democracy Day, Fashola’s remarks serve as a poignant reminder of the nation’s intricate history and the enduring legacy of its military past in shaping its democratic present and future.

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