John Tine, Esq — Writes from GBOKO
Americans define Democracy as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But if you are a discerning Nigerian, you must have realised by now that this borrowed progressive concept has since been distorted to imply “government of opportunists, by the opportunists and for the opportunists, and their cronies”— a system of rent seeking bosses, firmly entrenched in Nigeria’s democratic and political firmaments, otherwise known as cronyism.
Watching Prof Kingsley Moghalu, a former Dep Governor of the CBN, and erstwhile presidential candidate, on Arise TV’s “News Prime” with Charles Aniagolu; and Prof Muhammad Kabir Isa of ABU Zaria on NTA Network News’ “Metrofile,” with Cyrils Stober, respectively, yesterday evening: 24/12/2022; my insights and convictions were reinforced as to why Nigerian Politics and Democracy have been held down for decades on end.
Indeed, watching these two gentlemen asseverate dispassionately in their articulation of the undercurrents that have consistently undermined and threaten Nigeria’s nascent democracy and progress, stirred in me an indomitable spirit of hope for Nigeria’s future.
At the same time, I was miffed that the nation’s odious political system would compel a world class intellectual and technocrat in the mould of Prof Moghalu to abandon the patriotic struggle he had commenced, only to recede into his comfort zone in the USA.
But I also understand that not too many international citizens will be willing to operate in the ever mischievous, highly monetized, complacent and toxic Nigerian democratic system.
Be that as it may, i also completely align with the postulation of Prof Kabir Isa, that the Nigerian Democracy and its processes have evolved into a cash and carry power game that thrills and benefits only the opportunistic Godfathers and their cronies, instead of advancing the systematic building of enduring democratic institutions and ethos that promote the welbeing of the masses.
On the other hand, and like the cerebral Prof, I also belong to the school of thought that the history of Nigeria’s underdevelopment is traceable to the nation’s post colonial political foundations that were bereft of ideological underpinnings that usually promote the spirit of nationalism, patriotism and development; but were hinged instead on regional tripods with their centrifugal tendencies. Thus, the inability to evolve a political system that was based on enduring sociocultural, political and economic ideologies of the people, undergirded by pragmatic and strong global leadership models; successive Nigerian leaders and their cheerleaders have continued to define performance in terms of brick and mortal, otherwise known as physical infrastructure. Truth is: without a well equipped and nationalist type of leadership, infrastructures will depreciate and become eyesores for inability to maintain if leadership is not adequately prepared and lacks foresight. Until recently, there were innumerable dilapidated roads across the nation.
As I write, the road to my village on Gboko/Katsina Ala axis; the Makurdi/ Otukpo among so many others are glaring examples of leadership failure on the part of successive Nigerian governments.
Unfortunately, after decades of democratic dispensation, the Nigerian political elite is yet to realise the dire need of arresting this dangerous retrogressive trend through aggressive educational programmes, as well as reforms that enhance democratic tenets, processes and sustainable development. Why ? The reasons are not farfetched:
So many Nigerian politicians, after successfully expropriating the common wealth of the people through official chicanery and subterfuge, and in their bid to perpetually entrench themselves in their vain vainglorious status, seek to sustain the exploitation of their ignorant, hungry, and weak followers to acquire more power.
Ironically, this deprived class of the Nigerian society are the ones who are often recruited to fight the political battles of attrition for their so-called political leaders.
Our democratic experience has clearly shown that these opportunists with native intelligence of their local folks, have continued to amplify the socio cultural fault lines of the people in order to sustain themselves in power for their own selfish gains, whereas many of them don’t even have an inkling into the essence and uses of power. They simply think that after the initial opportunistic acquisition of power and influence, they will always be in the position to purchase the votes of the poor, without advancing the cause of humanity. Unfortunately, many of them are eventually ousted in the process. Yet others come into public office with the initial positive intents, but their political will is overcome and adumbrated by the lack of knowledge of the nuanced workings of democracy; coupled with the base, animalistic, and vainglorious predatory instincts of uncivilized demagogues that they are.
That is why today, both the thoroughly undermined, hungry and ignorant scrum of the Nigerian polity and their mercenary intellectual counterparts, have been systematically subdued, emasculated and conscripted to continually defend and justify why these unprepared, weak and selfish leaders must continue to be rewarded with public office, despite their lack of character and patriotism in previous official assignments.
In 2015, having been backed by a very powerful capitalist interests, the APC came into power basically through the exploitation of primordial sentiments, smartly harnessing and coordinating media propaganda that poignantly and chillingly exposed the frailties of the then PDP Federal Government; just as the party of the broom feasted on the unpreparedness of its predecessor and its inability to arrest the then adverse prevailing insecurity challenges in the land that had caused ubiquitous fear and pandemonium.
But in the twilight of its incumbency, despite the personal integrity record of President Buhari; and the accompanying unprecedented infrastructural development to butt; many have argued that if the APC Federal Government was as altruistic and well equipped as it portended before ascending power, the APC government at the centre would have substantially accomplished the fundamental existential task of nation building which could have engendered the desperately needed Nigerian nationalism.
But like I had alluded earlier, political thinkers have opined that, it is one thing to have the political will, it is another altogether if that will is effectuated, because it is oftentimes overshadowed by vested interests of countervailing forces, operating on the same political power chessboard which often initiate seeming noble and patriotic programmes that end up being a distraction to the possibly well intentioned leader in the long run.
It is rather regrettable that after almost 24 years of power sharing between the PDP and the APC and the numerous other than lip service and pretensions; democratic institutions have not been adequately strengthened through drastic legal, judicial and other relevant reforms, in order to curtail the inherent corrupt practices that permeate our institutions and democratic system of government. For instance, the Nigerian leadership recruitment system from top to bottom has been flawed and cannot be described as probono publico. Indeed, it has become a game of the highest bidder. Character, experience, competence, physical and mental fitness have become secondary; and intellectual mercenaries are procured to defend the indefensible, without any iota of chagrin, and some courts still deliver controversial judgments, despising the express provisions of the Electoral Act; and, since the electoral process is bound to run the whole hug, the unpredictability of the indispensable variables in the political and judicial systems portend grave danger to our nascent democracy.
This is because, effective leadership that has been universally identified as pivotal in all human endeavours over the ages, has been consistently advocated that it should be anchored on the principles of transparency, competence and experience rather than impunity, pecuniary or any other consideration.
Therefore, should our leadership recruitment system is compromised at the governance level, how do we counsel some of our students who have become inured to cheating in exams, including those that seek to be admitted into higher institutions of learning?
In the circumstances, if the primary elections which is the foundation of leadership recruitment system in any democratic setting is skewed to favour the super rich, how can the election proper will be safeguarded from the same trajectory.
The good news is that Nigerians now have alternative platforms of like minds that are professing and who, by their antecedents, and presently demonstrating zero tolerance for corruption both in democratic leadership recruitment processes and in governance with promises to overhaul not only the foundations of the Nigerian State, but also its superstructure with intent to erecting a new order of the Nigerian Society that is beneficial to all citizens, at all levels and within the context of an enduring democracy; irrespective of creed, ethnic, gender, demographic or any other considerations.
Finally, the entire world is keenly watching to see the choice the Nigerian electorates will make in the 2023 elections: Whether they will subscribe to the universal principles of advanced democracies by choosing credible leaders based on their proven Character and Competence or they will continue to allow Primordial Sentiments to influence their choices.
It is now left to the ordinary Nigerian suffering masses who are clearly in the overwhelming majority, to take their destiny into their hands. It will however, be abominable, if the Nigerian suffering masses will still consciously go ahead to sell their birthrights and those of generations yet unborn to their oppressors — God forbid.
For the hierarchy and rank and file in the oppressive Nigerian system of cronyism and Godfatherism, they will conjure all kinds of rationalisations to justify their warped democratic choices.
I’m aware that the prayers of the children of God across sundry denominations in this country are ongoing for the Almighty to help exorcise in our nation, the insatiable spirit of mammon, materialism, selfishness, greed and in His infinite mercy; and enthrone the noble, glorious and pius spirit of love and truth, tolerance, benevolence and honest leadership in our beloved nation at all levels, and the best choices for the Nigerian masses at this critical juncture of Nigeria’s political history are no doubt Engr (Dr) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, National Leader and Presidential Candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and his running mate, Bishop Isaac Idahosa; and Professor Bem Angwe, a renowned Human Rights Lawyer and Gubernatorial Candidate of the NNPP in Benue State; and his Deputy, Lady Comfort Ogbaji.
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