Today marks the 13th anniversary of Nigeria's return to civil rule and the first full year of the Goodluck Jonathan administration since it took office after the 2011 election. Beyond the milestone, however, it is necessary to interrogate the journey so far.
Do Nigerians have anything to celebrate about? Are there gains from the democratic journey that need to be consolidated, the challenges confronted and the dividends from the projects executed more evident for everyone to see?
While no single administration can resolve all the challenges facing the country's democracy project, it is still possible to critically examine the contributions or roadmap of the current one for the sustenance or deepening of the project. So how has President Jonathan fared in his one year in office?
This question will be best answered when placed against the backdrop of the president's campaign promises.
Campaigning for his first tenure in serving out the remaining term of the late Musa Yaradua under who he was vice president, Jonathan pledged to be a 'breath of fresh air', whose 'transformation agenda' would involve pursuing pro-poor policies that would generate jobs for the army of the unemployed and improve the standard of living of the generality of Nigerians.
He also promised that his administration would generate 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2013, with 6,000 MW coming from the rehabilitation of existing power generation systems. He said he would add 4,770 MW by 2012 through the National Independent Power Projects (NIPPs). The President equally promised to confront head-on the twin problems of endemic corruption and pervasive insecurity in the land. Perhaps Jonathan's greatest achievement to date is that despite the challenges, neither the country nor our democracy has unravelled under his watch. To a large extent the key freedoms that sustain a democracy - freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly - are largely respected.
However, not many Nigeria have experienced the promised 'breath of fresh air'. Rather than the promised pro-poor policies, Nigerians ushered in the New Year with an announcement that subsidies on petroleum products had been removed. No plans were put in place to cushion the adverse impact of the measure on the generality of Nigerians, resulting in harsher economic conditions. Official statistic show that the population of Nigerians living in penury has been increasing by leaps and bounds.
Even ranking administration officials have conceded that the government has failed in tackling the problem of epileptic power supply and missed its own targets. As a result, the power situation has worsened. Paradoxically, the government seems to be more concerned about how to hike electricity tariffs. One would have thought that an improvement in the quality of service would precede any hike in price - at least for a regime that promised to pursue pro-poor policies.
The insecurity situation in the land has worsened, despite the president's campaign promise to reverse the situation. From Boko Haram in the North to endemic kidnapping and oil thefts in the South and violent armed robberies across the country, some Nigerians are beginning to wonder whether the government is in control. The promise of fighting corruption headlong has also remained just that, promise. Reports of the various probes by the National Assembly - pensions, fuel subsidy and capital markets - which revealed mind- boggling corruption by individuals and agencies, remain largely ignored, or at best considered irritants.
While the nation grapples with all these challenges, the administration and its officials have their attention focused only the politics of 2015. For instance, shortly after he was sworn into office, the president came up with a proposal to amend the constitution to provide for a seven-year, single term tenure for president and state governors. A few months later he warned that people in his administration who had begun politicking for 2015 should leave his cabinet or be sacked. Despite the fact that the manoeuvrings for 2015 have become open secret - distracting both the government and others and apparently leading to misallocation and misapplication of resources - no one has been sanctioned.
On the other hand, it would not be a fair assessment of the government to expect that President Jonathan could, in this period, wave a magic wand and make all the problems of the land disappear.
However it is long enough for any regime's practical roadmap for tackling the challenges to be evident.