The thesis suggested by the title of this essay will not come as a surprise to any political observer within the Nigerian experimental space by any standard. Since our subject will be governance and society, however, our standard for evaluation will also be governance and society. In every society, governance is always about the people. While some systems of governance pretend that power emanates from and rests with the people, other systems make no secret of their disdain for the notion of “People’s Power”.
Yet the struggle for the liberation of the Blackman through history has always been based on the slogan “Power to the People” symbolized by the black power salute shown in the thrust of the clenched fist. Today, even in the black continent as represented by its most populous nation Nigeria, “people” are the most powerless. After all, the saying “United, we stand and divided, we fall” is a very popular one amongst Nigerians.
For some reasons, however, Nigeria in its miniature ethnographic reflection of virtually, every other society in Africa, is home to an edifice that is strongly divided against itself defying all senses of elementary logic.
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It is a patchwork nation (and which African nation is not?) that breeds millions of self-acclaimed philosophers, self-proclaimed geniuses, self-ordained prophets, self-made scientific inventors waiting to be discovered, self-declared apostles of perfection and even self-imposed billionaires. While all the others may be fake by virtue of emptiness and wishful thinking, the self-imposed billionaires are unfortunately, the only segment in the fold that is real. It is the segment that thrives on larceny and willful usurpation of people’s rights and imposes itself on society.
Yet it is precisely the same people, whose rights are usurped and trampled upon that have discovered a new and fashionable hobby in obvious oversize activities surpassing their individual capacities on daily display on social media. The average Nigerian of the present generation of youths often lives in the delusion of academic omnipotence with no readiness to concede ignorance even when it stinks to high heavens in the face of a deeply submerged quality of education. He is the bedrock of all facets of political and social activity no matter how good, bad or ugly. Vain and ignorant positions are often defended with the vile and vicious proliferation of emptiness as if basic existence depended on them.
Such has been made manifest in the most recent encounter of the polarized population, with the emerging authority of political leadership.
The dividing lines are often obscure but defined by whims and caprices and the power of cash. There are divisions along party lines. There are divisions along tribal lines. There are also forced loyalties defined by circumstances. The most typical example of forced loyalty is that of political defectors, who saw the pecuniary or strategic convenience of defecting to a different political umbrella only to be stuck to the losing end and forced to feign loyalty amid internal confusion. Femi Fani Kayode is topmost on my mind!
The popular elevation of partisanship is not uncommon in periods of elections wherever democracy or some semblance of it is practiced in any form. In fact, it is the fan that blows the flame of electoral democracy. It is also not unusual to see the business of governance dominated by partisan and biased manipulations. After all, a party wins the stakes and sets the agenda, which is promptly followed by strategizing on the political field with all players taking their defined positions. While the opposition also influences governance with informal contacts and clever or dumb politicking, the masses, who cast the ballot often end up the biggest loser with a very marginal impact on practical and day-to-day policy implementation. After all, the masses only have a say at the ballot box once in every legislative period.
Misplaced attacks on authority
When partisanship, however, becomes much more strongly pronounced with the voting class than it is with political actors along the corridors of party houses, then there is a fundamental flaw somewhere in the system. This is crucial because every element of the voting class all over the world, often meets on common grounds. They are the 99% of the “Occupy” fame, whose commonwealth is criminally misused by a coalition of political and economic interest groups. They are the victims of oppression. They are the impoverished victims of corruption. They are numerically stronger in Black Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Today, however, precisely this class of Nigerians is up in arms in a staunch but unconscious defense of corruption under astonishing guises. In the plethora of crimes that have been perpetrated on the common man in Nigeria in such a way that the nation has systematically been robbed and virtually thrown back to the ‘stone age’ of our times by progressive and cyber standards, I still wonder what business the ordinary man has, crying ‘selective persecution’ when thieves are caught. Nigeria of our present day is at a crossroad seeking to redefine guilt in corruption on the basis of political or tribal camps and the numerical strength of beneficiaries. The real guilt of the crime committed now seems a non-issue in the face of overtly loud and vehement agitation. The notion seems to stand that prosecution will be fair and acceptable only if all and nothing but ALL perpetrators are picked and charged in one fell swoop. Everything else is selective. The need to encourage the reigning authority to broaden the search for thieves also within its own ranks is now taken as a compelling criterion for measuring the guilt of certified thieves and the daylight robbers of our own commonwealth. I, therefore, say this for crying out loud: “What business has the oppressed and suffering son of the land, crying ‘selective prosecution’ when the thief is real?”
All of sudden, a vocal section of precisely, these downtrodden Nigerians has now found its voice behind Kukahs and charlatans raising the alarm that the core issue of governance is being sacrificed for the fight against corruption. After all, the fight against corruption is not a part of governance as long as the person caught is not from the camp of the governing party. The Oshiomoles have suddenly become the bad boys of the creek seeking nothing but the destruction of the land simply for vehemently unveiling the mask of corruption that should ordinarily have attracted heightened interest and detailed inquisitiveness. For every indictment of governmental armchair quarterbackers, the ordinary Nigerian is waiting to rally around his hero. No excuse is shameful enough. No excuse is embarrassing enough. No reckless excuse is a shame on the face of worthless mitigation.
The Stockholm syndrome
Precisely the downtrodden Nigerian now summons elements of pity and sympathy to proclaim the innocence of robbers who have dragged them down decades into the depth of a swampy sludge. Suffering from cancer now renders a looter innocent. The sudden heart attack suffered by an adjudicated looter leading to an unfortunate fatality suddenly leads to canonization. It is the picture of a folk that has learned to feel comfortable in poverty and oppression not having really known the opposite standard in real terms.
It is the picture of a folk that has learned to live with a wrongly calibrated mental structure thriving on trivialities and superficialities, sticking vehemently to irrelevant facts that sound consistent to the wrongly configured mind yet making him proud of a self-perceived level of heavenly intelligence.
At a point, I am forced to think about the Stockholm syndrome that I elaborated in detail in my book “Africa’s Diabolical Entrapment”. A section of Nigerians now seems to sympathize with their captors and oppressors having been too long encapsulated with them in a common dungeon of unfettered brainwashing. The detailed mental challenge of setting priorities for national development has now been voluntarily ceded to the heritage of pettiness and nothingness.
The few amongst the misguided, who manage to see a few steps beyond the tip of the nose, complain about the absence of a blueprint for economic recovery. They celebrate every misfortune like suicide attacks on soft targets to declare leaders brainless and say it’s payback time. Anyone will be speechless and short of words at the vanity of this stance on the part of helpless masochists, who mortgage the collective welfare of a nation for the passion to weep over spilled milk.
But excuse me. Who on earth has ever performed the trick of working out a successful economic blueprint with a treasury that has been badly looted amid dwindling revenues? With the volatility of the price of crude oil today, which is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, can a budget be planned with any certainty in the first place to say the least of an economic blueprint? Can revenue projections be made even for 6 months? In a nation where treasuries were brazenly looted through multiple peripheral accounts, pension funds personalized by a few individuals and salaries are owed over several months, what meaningful economic blueprint can be worked out on the short-term without first fixing the leakages? A single treasury account has now been ordered in a frantic effort to take the country back to the early eighties where sanity gave us hope of a brighter future until politicians did us part. Yet, Stockholmers find fault in what they term brainlessness.
No one plans an economy without first knowing, what resources and capital are available. The drive to recover as much of the nation’s looted fund as possible as a basic groundwork for better planning is now suddenly derided as negligence of the real business of governance. The same voices derided a predecessor, who failed to fight corruption as being ignorant of governance. Could this be the stuff that the African is made of?
Is it a coincidence that revolutions never happen in Black Africa? Will anything good come out of a house that is divided against itself? Who expects a revolution from Nigerians with the aim of a thorough cleansing of society when Nigerians defend and protect their own oppressors? Who will hold the looters to account in all seriousness? Secessions may come and go. Smaller nations may emerge in a unifying global village. But the mental, developmental and collective inferiority of the black African will persist as long as this low level of intellectual disposition persists. With the generation yet unborn that will take the lead in the quest to rebuild nations, Nigeria simply has a very long way to go!
- Frisky Larr
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