Nigeria’s Death By Democracy

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

By Olumide Adeyinka.

Insidious is the right word to describe Nigerians’ love for Democracy in the face of very many challenging facts and evidences that has shown its harmful, treacherous and ever cumulative negative effects on the overall well-being of the nation and her people. Our overzealousness and obdurate dogmatist dependence on a totally foreign adoption of democracy, without any vibe or conscience to reappraise and retrofit the intrinsic nature, culture and value of our disparately diversified and incongruous populace into the definition of our own democracy has remained the greatest threat to our existence as a nation and a people. I therefore, predict, involuntarily, that Nigeria as a nation may die, neither the death by the belligerent regional bigotry nor the death by the pernicious religious philosophies that are sharply different, neither will Nigeria die the death of the ever untold portentous corruption that has lived with us forever nor the squabble for citizens superiority on the basis of language and tongue. I have every sane inspiration to predict, against my sincere patriotism and unalloyed loyalty to my fatherland, that Nigeria may die of what her people have come to embrace so warmly and closely acceptable but which works contrary and traitorous to us. This democracy may eventually extirpate Nigeria and obliterate us as a people of a unified nation. Our obsequious dependence on democracy as the only pattern of government that can liberate Africa is much more a new form of colonization that has mortgaged our resourcefulness and inspiration to evolve a very customized model solution to our very peculiar problem.

The known litany of problems we have as a people, stemming pre-independence to post-independent Nigeria, has shown that we possess a rare conditioned, but questionable, coping skills to neglect and abandonment. We have even developed a strange pedagogy to pass the skills to generations, and seem to be succeeding in that effort much more than the determination to ask for our rights and privileges. We see basic rights as privileges, as priced possession, as some will say, “thank goodness for democracy as we can now voice out our opinion”. Fourteen years after the experiment of uninterrupted democracy, most Nigerians still revel only in the victory of sending soldiers to the barracks.. Somebody said we are “mumus” or “magas” or “munguns”. We celebrate democracy as if we won a lottery of prosperity. We get bemused by election dates as rats let loose to eat poisoned roaches. We revel on party formations, and most annoyingly on rebels cross-carpeting to and fro-political parties as dead cats placed in the haven of rats. 5 became the majority over 24 in our national democratic arithmetic, and all we do is smile when salaries are paid three months late and we rejoice when a bridge is built in one community at a price enough to build 20 in several more. Governors celebrate 2 years in office with 10 Mosques built as dividends of democracy. The “progressives” who could not ordinarily stand a year of repressive military government before they jump from jail to jail have all-of-a-sudden become so mute in the face of tyranny because party political appointment is the only way to get rewarded for their ‘labor’ of our “gift” – Democracy. They all have vamoosed from the terrain of national activism into the lodges of Burdillon Road in Ikoyi or Otuoke in Bayelsa or the now reigning Adamawa house of Atiku Abubakar.

My intention is not to deride democracy in its elements and intent as a practicable system of government, but to advertise it as the only possible solution to human governance is totally unacceptable to wisdom, especially in the midst of very convincing success stories of many nations that has not practiced democracy. Relative Success Analysis is the most unreliable method of comparing nations based on their style of government. I mean, there are successful nations of the world that does not practice democracy the American way or the British style. There are nations that have been on Constitutional Monarchy for centuries and are still successful at it. There are Republic with a non-executive leader that are doing well till date. There are yet other countries that practice Absolute Monarchy and are stable. There are also failing democratic states too. To preach economic prosperity via democracy is the biggest lie of all ages, and Nigerians must awake to that reality. Democracy in 14 years should have given enough hope for a future that we can all be proud to leave for our children, but the truth is, we are worse for it in every shade.

Democracy is NOT just election on party basis, democracy is not majority carries the power, democracy is not just party politicking, neither is it party candidature only. Democracy does not concentrate power to anyone or any arm. Democracy is an all-embracing system of government that is about representation, participation and total inclusion. Period! I live in the United States, and can tell you that the U.S as the capstone of democratic example to nations does not come close to the elements of democracy that one reads about. For fifteen years now, almost everything about governance has been grounded on the rancorous anti-progressive rhetoric of party differences. Conflict and invidious reductive party lines are drawn at every opportunity at the expense of nations development. Ideology is no longer the driving force of national pride and development. Almost nothing has been done since after Bill Clinton. Actually, both Republicans and Democrats have called the Congress (the most important part of America democracy) the “lamest duck Congress” since after the great depression. The only thing that keeps America rolling is the institutionalized structures that have been built over 200 years of verifiable cooperation between both isles. It just simply shows that Democracy itself has no perfect realm of reference within humanity, probably not even in our homes.

Nigeria has not had any semblance of democracy by any definition or reference. What we have celebrated under the guise of democracy is Despotism by Oligarchy. Obasanjo was an autocratic despot and Goodluck Jonathan represents an Oligarchy as a puppet. Most perturbing to the soul is that those who benefit from the largesse of corruption have perfected the art of selling the dummy “to protect the bulging democracy” to the unsuspecting victims of abuse and neglect under the aegis of “Military government is an aberration”. Six and half a dozen will always be defined on the prism of perception in Nigeria. What is ingenious about a democracy that has produced more problems than we ever had in our history? The Nigerian democracy is simply a Democratic Citizenship System that allows only a selected elites (free men) to ‘vote’ (rig) and exclude the majority of the nationals as ‘slaves’. Though we were not called slaves, but we all are treated as one without rights and privileges. We neither practice Direct Democracy nor the Representative Democracy, but we still call it Democracy. How many of our people have access to register, vote and be counted. May Fela Anikulapo-Kuti find peace in his grave.

Why then do I think this Democracy will ‘kill’ Nigeria?

First, we lack what is called Institution Building Capacity. The building capacity has nothing to do with high level of literacy or intellectualism within our borders. Capacity to build institution is philosophical, structural, behavioral and cultural in perspective. Do you know how many electoral bodies we have formed and how many credible Nigerians have been made to sit above them in the last 30 years? Do you know how many political parties have been formed, defunct and reformed? Do you know how many electoral processes we have adopted from A4 option to open voting? Do you know how many failed people have been recycled in government to formulate policies for governance in Nigeria? Do you know how many viable men we have had fired because they seem too lethal to keep? I can go on and on, but suffice it to say that in answering the above questions, please do put in mind how many Professors, PhDs, MSc, BA, or even uneducated ones will be in the list. It crosses all spectre of the Nigeria nation. We just simply lack the forthrightness and foresightedness to build for the future. And it is not only in government. Think about the several Billionaires we have had in the past, and ask where they are with all the stolen money today? Take a look at abandoned projects of successive governors in our democracy and you’ll see the success of military regimes that we are quick to condemn. We have not even considered evaluating our very peculiar problems as a nation talk less of formatting a development plan to overcome such. There is no viable national institution in Nigeria that can withstand the rigorous test of posterity and stand. Even those that seem standing are built with rubbles. I hate to tell you this, but democracy depends so much on institutions that stands.

Second, we lack what I call Institutionalized Citizenship. Most Nigerians does not even have a clue what it means to be called a Nigerian. Have you ever wondered why Americans are proud and are still able to manage failures for years in their democracy? It is a profound citizenry that is educated, patriotic, dedicated and zealous for the motherland. Americans can fight on where you build a mosque or a Church, but when it comes to citizens’ obligation and expectations, they are as united against any religion or nation. What we mostly have in Nigeria is bigoted citizenry that has much more loyalty to religion and tribe and other sundry divisive agenda. Can you imagine some Nigerian “activists” on the social network does not even have respect for our constitution? Some Muslims told me in a forum that the Nigerian Constitution is so inferior to them because it is man-made. Their entire loyalty is to their religious laws and nothing more (however, many Muslims in the same forum corrected their excessive ignorance and religious patronage). I happen to meet a Special Adviser to a state governor in America for vacation and we got talking about Nigeria. As I was complaining of the many atrocities of government and condemning them, he looked me in the eye and told me “all is well with Nigeria as long as some people are empowered to take care of the weaklings in our society”. He believed in oligarchy to his roots. The conscientiousness of citizenry is very lacking in Nigeria as a nation. People describe themselves as Igbos, Hausas and Yorubas much more than a Nigerian. Most are only patriotic to money and power at the expense of others. I hate to tell you again that democracy can only be viable with a people so sold to dedicated patriotism.

Third, philosophy of ideas is what is needed to power political parties for a viable democracy. Unfortunately, political parties are formed by a derivative new name and no ideas. What is the philosophy of PDP? On what idea is the APC formed, except a coalition of very strange oppositions? The only pride PDP has ever announced publicly is that they are the biggest political party in African. A difficult-to-verify but necessary propaganda to enable them blackmail opposition. Anytime I think about APC, I can only chuckle and giggle on how politics work in Nigeria. I will be delighted to see Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton work together someday. To see Buhari and Tinubu in a single party makes a good democracy drama. Extremely strange people are now bedfellows in APC just to wrestle power from the PDP. Assuming they get a presidential candidate and win the central election today, what will be the agenda the government will run on? Dedicated godfatherism or a ruthless anti-corruption crusade? I hate to tell you again, this democracy will destroy us if we don’t stop it now, build institutions and develop ideas and philosophies to run our nation on. We have none! Vision 2020, my foot!

Fourth, the saying “majority carries the vote” may be sound as a doctrine of democracy, but the intended meaning has been lost over years. What we have now is a cosseted exclusive preserve of a gaudy and ever purloining morph of people claiming a stolen mandate at the election as victory. I strongly have a problem with the Majority/Minority clause in any democracy. Majority wins, but democracy only declares the victory in ideas and not in exercise of absoluteness. Can we seriously define the word majority without conditions? In Nigeria, at election night, billions of naira is sacrificed for the victory party by the party that is victorious in over-rigged elections. You then ask why? Obviously, because it is a known fact that “prosperity” has come for the big players of the winning party. Nothing close to the expected reflection on how to govern and administer the state comes to mind. Most times, it is vacation time for the victorious team. If you look at the moment of prosperity in American history, you will be inundated with many cases of majority/minority participation in government because the simple lesson of joint ownership of the nation was never lost. Read about the days when America gets pummeled and you will see a state of winner-takes-all mandate that leaves the minority fighting tooth and nail to derail the government. It has gotten bad these days as opposition party sees members who partake of another party’s victory as liberal conservative or the conservative democrat. In Nigeria, the truth is there is no opposition and so the minority has always been the populace. Here is my problem with the majority/minority rule. Using the 2011 election data in Nigeria, a nation of 160 Million people and about 80 Million of which are adults of voting age, and there are 73.9 Million registered voters without any database (Red flag). The 2011 election result recorded 39.5 Million people voted (some of whom are Late Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson of U.S.A). Now, that is just about 50% voter turnout. That also means 39.5 Million of the 160 Million citizens voted. The winning party claimed to have 22.5 Million votes, which is about 30% of the registered voters. How does 12% of Nigerians translate to majority that automatically owns all? How would such a party conduct herself excluding the rest of the country and still call that democracy. That is the problem in America, Nigeria and Egypt’s Morsi. Morsi had 11% of Egyptian votes and felt he is now a god. Egypt will not take that. Majority wins by idea not by total instrumentation of power where the minority becomes ostracized in their own land. All are stakeholders in the nation. I hate to tell you this but democracy does not mean power grabbing and morally relativistic showiness.

Fifth, is our Problem Fixing Style. Democracy is so much about proffering solution to problems that affect a people in sovereignty via rungs of strategically positioned authorities from the grassroots (communities) to the topmost echelon that oversees. Problem solving is by upward mobility and not by downward gazette. People are the ones that can solve their own problems within their own community by the authorities that should reside with the people. In Nigeria, what we do with democracy is make order from above that all shades of government will have to obey. Governors are subservient to the president, and local governments, which are created to please powerful individuals without recourse to grassroots’ convenience or viability, are empty entities as appendages of state powers. Separation of power makes the dynamics of democracy thick, but in our case, power is absolutely centralized far from where the problems are. Governors are now trying to free themselves from the grip of central power drunks but they are turning around to deny the third tiers of governance, the local government, their own self governance because power is the ultimate of our democracy instead of service. Local government executives are scared of state governors who are hell scared of Mr. President. Our congress in both the states and central government are cymbals of noise making where most of them does not even know what and how to make instruments of law or understand the language of legislature. We will never fix any problem downwards, and that is our democracy, so I hate to tell you it’s a trip to nowhere. You cannot just correct it because it is systemic. We can only stop it and reevaluate.

Sixth is what call Vortex of Insecurity. The chief function of government at any level is security, and that alone has been the Achilles heel of democracy in Nigeria. Remember, insecurity is a recurring issue in Nigeria democratic government ever. At post independence, it caused a civil war. During what we call the first republic of Shagari’s administration, we had the Maitatsine Islamic group that reigned untold terror on the nation for 4 years between 1980-84. We lived with it for 4 years until Buhari/Idiagbon government came and ended it within a week in April 1984. The notorious Obasanjo government known for his military highhandedness romanced the Niger Delta Militants for the life of that administration. 14 years after, they are still killing and bombing despite billions of naira paid them monthly to keep them shut. Boko Haram took over in 2009 and we are still battling them till date. None of this would have been tolerated by the military, by the way. Why do we still fancy this democracy that kills us daily? How do we progress if we have internal threats? Violence is good money making venture in politics, and we know it. I am afraid, we’ll be stuck with insecurity until we stop this nonsense we adore as democracy.

Seventh on my list is Constitutional Ambiguity. The constitution that allows for religious freedom and rights clearly stated that such liberty is within the superior confines of our laws. In Nigeria democracy today, a senator can boldly tell us documents of our constitution are inferior to his religious rights, and still remain honorable. That is Nigerian democracy for you. Can you imagine an American Muslim senator say that? Our state governors are insanely acting as owners of the state. Akpabio can spend state money as he likes and nobody blinks. Politicians concoct bedroom economic figures to assuage the pauperized populace to jump uhuru. Nigerians’ alienable rights to live peacefully and pursue his/her legitimate means of livelihood in any part of Nigeria without let or hindrance is been abused daily.

Eight will be the enormously expensive democracy will bankrupt us shortly. Please do a simple arithmetic on how mush is spent on political party funding in addition to the unrivalled amount of money we spend on the electoral process, and you will know we are closer to bankruptcy than broke. Remember also that, all these monies come from nothing other than crude oil sale. Recent report says we lose above a quarter of our daily production to oil thieves. How then do we foot the enormous bills that are stolen everyday if not to borrow into the very far future for our children?
Billionaires are made on a daily basis on the instrumentality of hyperinflation and oil subsidy, and so we have many super rich people who have no industry or commerce.

Unemployment rate is unequal ever. Until we get the very strong selfless and patriotic ones in our midst who will fight for Nigeria and the good of the land without the political bottlenecks of democratic structures, we are getting close to wipe out.
Nigeria is about to die, and democracy will be the cause of death!

Olumide Adeyinka can be reached at nigardgroup@yahoo.com

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