2023 Election & Democracy: A Little Fear, A Little Anger and A Weak Faith

Samuel Olomu

Samuel Olomu

A Little Fear

We have come to the red-line; a point of no return – the height of making a decision. We are waiting to cross this rubicon, this “igi agbon” – the very apex of comfort. Right before our eyes, we watch our democracy hanging-dangling on the tree of hopelessness with no light nor life. David Runciman in his work “How Democracy Ends” was of the view that “democracy is a civil war without the fighting, failure comes when proxy battles turn into real ones” this is the irony with the 2023 election. It is yet another time to ask if this upcoming election won’t stop the match of democracy; what the iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the prophet once called “dem don crazy,” “demonstration of craze “in this country of anything-is-possible.

As we approach the 2023 election, this is indeed a time to tell the truth not only to power but also to ourselves – that the majesty of democracy is again being defiled and so we the people have to be vigilant lest democracy and indeed the country may come to a dead end. So, can we just come together as concerned citizens and as a people who have not been carried away by the only dividend that democracy in Nigeria has delivered to us but by safeguarding the rule of law (the main strength of our democracy) which has become the rule of man. In its (rule of law) absence there will be no progress before the end of time for the supposed giant of Africa, Nigeria. And particularly, in the absence of the rule of law; our society will be back to the solitary state of nature which is null, void, nasty, brutish and very short.

The majesty of democracy has been defiled not because it houses life and death in the same Sabbath, not because power is entrusted in the hands of hunters. Democracy is falling not because a man from Katsina occupies the seat of the president. The majesty of democracy is falling not because we have too many untrustworthy and corrupt politicians, democracy is falling not because the Boko Haram insurgent is disrupting the nation. Democracy is falling not only because there have too many “hunters of power, fame, opulence and splendor”. Glaringly, what should be held responsible for the collapse of democracy is called, “complacency!” And in reality, complacency is the man, we the people of Nigeria. When we start to see abnormalities as normal, when we begin to see disloyalty as loyalty, when we begin to see unaccountability as a virtue, when we start to see falsehood as truth. When we hate persons who dare challenge falsehood and yearn for truth. When we start to build a generation of idiots and liars. The moment we no longer remember we have rights, when we start to be afraid of ruthless political cliques and cabals who doesn’t tolerate the rule of law in their enclave. We become complacent when we no longer care of things that matters to our well-being. When we worship and pay homage to mediocrity. When we are satisfied of our suffering, poverty and abjection in the middle of plenty.

A Little Anger

Yes! We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. There are many abnormalities veiled in normalcy in our nation. On this occasion of democracy day, June 12, 2022. This is another time to tell some home truth to the people of Nigeria; to the aged (men and women) and particularly to the Youths that quality leadership is expediently needed in Nigeria now. Today, as Chinua Achebe noted in 1983, the trouble with Nigeria is still squarely and simply a failure of leadership that has institutionalised corruption as a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy. Oh yes, corruption that has given birth to mediocrity and hopelessness in the country has paralysed democracy to an alarming extent. Any action that jeopardises this must be resisted by all. We should not continue to be gullible by allowing the political class to play ‘ludo’ with our future. This is the time to get engaged actively with the political process. Failure to do this might leave us with another decade of wasted hopes, unprofitable democracy, a disservice to our generation and dreams in the hands of charlatans, and political jobbers bent on holding our future and that of the next generation to ransom. In a democracy, the people are the last hope for good governance. And therefore, the people must choose the right leaders to make the change they want. Getting this wrong will undermine everything good about our collective existence.

The field of presidential aspirants prior to the intraparty screenings was crowded and congested with the good, the bad, and the ugly throwing their hats into the ring as more and more masquerades has taken the dance floor in the country’s politics. This is supposed to be the beauty of our democracy but unfortunately, it is a symptom of too many negatives the reality of which may be more sinister and a bad omen for our democracy. Let us grant that democracy entitles every citizen to aspire to any position. Let us also concede that democracy cannot put a bar on how many citizens aspire for elective offices. We can even further concede that the sheer volume of aspirants to various elective positions could indicate a deepening of the popularity of democracy in our country. Yet, the sheer number, nature and character of most of the said aspirants give us a cause for concern. Also, the outrageous fees of N40 Million and N100 million for the Expression of Interest and Nomination form is yet another area of interest.

The trading of political offices in Nigeria is one of the issues fueling the rush for the presidential nomination form. The holy grail of our democracy starts from the participation of people in the business of power, legitimised by the representation of elected leaders. Politics is a big business in the Nigerian perspective, and everyone knows that. For the majority, the most accessible means to inexplicable wealth and power in Nigeria today is the holding of a political office. Before taking a political office, people with no known means of wealth suddenly become so rich beyond the imagination of many, with no one asking why and how? Businessmen and political jobbers are now “investing in politics”, just as everyone invest in Bitcoin – intending to reap significant profits, albeit at the expense of the people. Related to this is the total preoccupation of the elite in politics for economic survival is the engine-room for rampant corruption today. May I make it clear that “no money in politics, if you are making money then you are a thief”.

Also, the positioning to profit from political consensus is another issue. It is now the new-normal for political parties to resort to consensus in choosing candidates. Therefore, negotiations, deals, and rewards – given to the majority of candidates at the table in the forging room of a goldsmith in order to arrive at consensus which in turn results in the mismold and misform of our national future. The two major political parties in Nigeria lacks a deep culture of internal democracy, cohesion and unity, and this anomaly is because they are not ideologically driven, and there are intraparty frictions among party members. There are party godfathers’ (who parades themselves with swagger as though they are God) ethnic and regional factions, and others  making the party politics more interesting with the proliferation of aspirants not involved in a strategy by an underground clique of serious aspirants who weakens the delegates base of their co-competitors and the manipulation of the internal processes of the parties to enable them to achieve a predetermined outcome.

Regretfully, the democratisation of aspirants should be good for the various parties and society because it gives us broader options to choose from various options of candidates. However, in the Nigerian context, it is evident, based on our political context and antecedents, that the ongoing muster parade of aspirants is a signal of an invasion of political locusts and opportunists whose ultimate impact would be to sack the national treasury and ground Nigeria. This has broader implications for development as a nation and a people. Though, these people might parade themselves as true lovers of democracy but in the real sense, they are well grounded in the business of twisting of facts, manipulation of truth; ignoring of failings; and taking credit for what they know nothing about. These people puts our democracy at great risk. They have no personal values; they are self-centered, they lack deep critical thinking, they do not see good in other people; they lack character and integrity; they are arrogant. Realistically, some of these aspirants lacks instinct, clear vision, discretion, and wisdom, putting the country under enormous pressure.

These people are charlatans and opportunists who comes in various forms and colours. They can be likened to the Yoruba saying of which one meets a dead buffalo  and advances it with a knife when one has no idea about how the buffalo got to the place and what led to its death. Kene Obiezu described them as “consummate liars whose ageless ability to describe white as black have retained their relevance in the corridors of power”. He postulated that “there are the career sycophants whose lack of revulsion at licking any kind of boot as long as a power broker wears it keeps them gainfully employed. There are the perennial underachievers who though inept at everything else are adept at manipulating the levers of power to perpetuate themselves in office. There are the serial opportunists for whom survival is the name of the game, no matter who has what baggage. Then there are the heinous hypocrites.”

The young ones should note that above all, democracy is advanced by the success of the political movements whose goal is to improve the lives of the majority of the population in a number of ways. And so, to the young ones let’s organise. Yes, let’s unite and take records on how Nigeria’s politicians, power elites and morons called business barons have demonised democracy as government of the corrupt few for their families and their in-laws. That is why the paralysed man called complacency should be banished for democracy to be a boon and not a bane.

Ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, never in Nigerian history have the people been so confronted with an intriguing nightmare as this. These happenings have grave consequences for our democracy and the 2023 general elections in particular.

A Weak Faith

I ask you where? Where is the ray of hope where ‘legislooters,’ ‘executhieves’ and ‘judi-sharing’ so called by people today, collaborate to protect and defend the interest of their “afobajes” (kings makers) and that of their accused members in an enclave nurtured by complacency, with no concern for the plight of the entire citizenry. As I write, the bet is not yet settled. But the odds still doesn’t look favourable for the survival of our democracy.

Let’s focus on the way forward. Our nation is gone for the Burton. The economy is in shambles. For the over 200 million people in the 36 states of the nation, electricity has always been around 4000 megawatts which is relatively not sufficient to effectively power a state of the whole federation. Is it not painful to behold that the national grid is deteriorating while the national greed is rising? Prosperity is rising, though it remains very unequally distributed. Interestingly, after 22 years of Nigeria’s democracy, there are no good link roads from states to states even air transport fares have become unbearable. Our roads are death-trap; some in need of serious repair while some roads are red clay earth that has never smelt an inch of coal tar. But one thing I’m surprised of is the fact that our politicians have come on many occasions for campaigns to hoodwink us with their sugar coated mouths by promising us everything under the sun – ‘vote for me and my great party,’ ‘vote for progress and democracy,’ ‘vote for accountability’. You will see different slogans as election rages.

Painfully, democracy has only delivered private jets to the very prominent power elite who daily fly over bad roads that the people ply, suffering and smiling. As the roads have been left to God in heaven to fix, even the schools – from primary to university levels – are not institutions where innovations can be delivered to the citizens in the 21st century. They send their children to schools in big countries and leave our children with the bad educational system which they had failed to restructure. They subject our children to months of ASUU strike and the only thing they think/speak about is the coming elections when current political, social and economic problems have not been  fixed. As for healthcare delivery, I keep on wondering why the  sickly presidents have not considered it expedient to fund even a few university teaching hospitals to world-class standards where they can get medical services. This begs the question, “WHERE IS THE HOPE FOR OUR DEMOCRACY?”

And so in 2023, Nigerians (young and old) should not allow the greedy kingmakers and opportunists to cast a pearl called democratic leadership before a swine, lest they continue to mess our country up. Nigeria belongs to all of us and we shouldn’t allow it to fail. If we allow this trend of rising and falling to continue then I bet you one day our nation will crumble, and as a result of this, we doubt whether the socio-political enclave known as Nigeria today might still continue to operate a democracy. This will be near an holy grail. This is one of the reasons why I have a weak faith concerning Nigeria’s transformation because the solutions to our nation, lies in our hands.

 

Samuel Olomu is an undergraduate of Faculty of Law, Lagos State University. samueldewright@gmail.com / 09049920975

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