The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku
Says nation won’t experience military coup again
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, has said that Nigeria is a far better country today than it was before the enthronement of democracy in 1999.
Maku stated this yesterday at the launching of two books by Dr. Otive Igbuzor: “National Security and Policing in Nigeria,” and “Overcoming the Challenges of Transformation in Nigeria”, at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
He said a cursory comparison with the past would reveal a country that has been in steady progress with dividend of democracy like freedom of speech, association and rule of law.
He said: “Secondly, like I said, Nigeria is a very good country. People must understand that if you were alive before 1999 and now, you will know that you live in a different country now.
“You can express yourself now. You can discuss the country. There is nobody that is a political detainee now. Nobody is afraid that if you criticise government you would be arrested in the evening. All the people that are in public position today are elected and they have a definite time to live.”
“Before 1999, if you come to power, only a coup can overthrow you. So, we live in a new country. It doesn’t mean that all the problems have been solved. But, we are in a democratic society. We have a president that is doing things differently. Look at the electoral process. Look at what it was before Goodluck Jonathan came in. Look at what it is today,” he added.
The minister noted that democracy is deepening in the country with regular and improved elections.
Maku also added that there has been remarkable improvement in the economy, especially with the liberalisation of the telecoms sector.
“Elections are getting better. Powerful people are being defeated in elections, and we see change coming. This change isn’t going to happen overnight. But there are indications that what started in 1999 can longer be stalled,” he said.
“The democratic process is deepening in the country. We see change even in the economy. Things are being done differently. 1999, you didn’t have handsets. But it was all over the world. But because of the change that is happening, you now have your mobile lines everywhere. Before now, you could not set up an electricity company in Nigeria, now change is happening in the electricity sector. Power is improving . We have not reached there, but you are seeing indications that things will change. There are fundamental shifts that are taking place in the economy,” he explained.
The minister however clarified that despite the fact that the country has made steady progress in its overall governance index, it still needs help like any other country in the world.
He acknowledged that the country has some challenges, especially from those he described as religious fanatics and ethnic jingoists.
Maku noted: “There are things there to satisfy everybody. But on the road to a new country and a new society, there are negatives, such as religious fanaticism. Some people believe in using religion to destroy society. We need change from that side. We need change from fanaticism, religious fanaticism. There is ethnic jingoism, where people think my tribe is better than yours.
“Do we need help? Yes, every country needs help. We need help. Spain needs help, United States need help. Britain needs help. China needs help. No country is self sufficient in all fields”.
“So, we need international cooperation to defeat evil. But, that is not to say that we don’t have capacity at home. The capacity at home could still be improved through international cooperation.”