“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” This proclamation in George Orwell’s Animal Farm attempts to reveal the wall that unravels between democracy and bourgeois politics.
In the ancient Rome, the statue of the “Lady Justice” as in today’s law, represented the peak of justice, her eyes are blindfolded so as not to be biased by what she sees; a set of scale on one hand measures evidence for or against an accused; the sword on the other hand depicts that justice is cut once, it is swift and final.
Today in Nigeria, with the character of our rulers to the law; the disobedience and sheer violation of human rights, the blindfold on Lady Justice has been removed, she now sees who to hate or like before the law. Like the historic subjugation of women, Lady Justice is now stripped and openly raped, her scales now measure justice in terms of influence and political will, and her sword now made to behead justice by her very self. At a point when this symbol of justice is now oppressed, where judges and judgment are no longer valued, what then becomes of this law and democracy? Do we require new definitions or this democracy has always been charade?
With the stampede on democracy and rule of law, Nigerians should not only boycott the courts, our lawyers and law students might as well need to burn the wigs and books as signs of protest. Not only democracy is threatened, but education too, in fact, the human race is at threat.
The travails of Sowore in the claws of the federal government dealt a serious blow to the general conception of democracy, a lot is exposed. One would have needed a serious work attempting to explain to a fellow citizen why democracy in this part of the world is fraudulent, but the persistent attacks on the freedom and rights of Omoyele Sowore helps anyone to quickly draw conclusion. From Sowore’s abduction and detention for over hundred days, to the refusal of the state to release him despite the court orders, we see a huge exposure of the state and its democracy, even a toddler needs no serious explanation again.
To the very conscious ideologues, democracy anywhere in the world is the democracy of the rich. This is because people are oppressed along economic difference, there is no absolute democracy that can be guaranteed with the society polarized between the haves and the have nots, and between the rulers and the ruled. Only the political tolerance differs from regions to regions. The level of tolerance to dissent differs across the globe depending on the level of civilization and people’s radical history.
All over the capitalist globe, the ruling elite and rich class control all the state apparatus including the courts and armed forces. This is why a Tinubu or Obasanjo will never be probed no matter how evident and strong the petitions against them are.
Despite the EFCC receiving petition to probe into Tinubu’s bullion vans, the commission rather called for petitions against yahoo boys. Who petitions against ‘yahoo boys’ again? That is how much Nigeria embarrasses. These are in fact the many youths who are victims of economic battery resulting from the possession of money in bullion vans by some few, and therefore rendering many others hopeless in the economy.
Around the world, what is left of democracy are the camouflaged freedoms of speech, electoral powers- the people’s votes, rights to associate and others. These limited rights are concessions and soothing relief to manage perpetual unrest from the masses. In Nigeria, nothing even appears to be left. Right to protest is combated with live bullets while right to expression is combated with laws against ‘hate speech’, which make Nigerians liable to death by hanging.
If we have these kinds of deadly attacks from the state forces, and we have legislators making laws that threaten our lives, combined with the many deaths already caused daily by economic austerity, it is not on the high side to conclude we do not even have right to life. The worst of democracy is here!
It is hard to say whether Nigeria is running on democracy or military dictatorship, perhaps what we have is ‘totalitarian democracy’. With such dictates of the Buhari government and the repression of human rights all around the country, defining democracy to our students in school becomes hard because the practice contradicts the theory.
Some persons who had even earlier suggested a return to military rule for a progressive Nigeria, we have seen them repented on such suggestions, they cannot say again the difference it would make when we already have this style of governance playing out. I think what those persons missed out earlier is the fact that the same rulers in ‘Agbada’ today were the rulers in ‘Khaki’ yesterday, they only repented in clothing, their leopards have not changed skins.
In the same light, those who have bought the idea of restructuring seem to forget in a hurry in whose hands they are restructuring into. Since independence and the said democracy in Nigeria, power and riches have only revolved around a circle of cabals.
Whether we agree to Sowore’s methods or not, whether we agree with revolution or not, this democracy we hail is on trial and it calls for a social revolution to get it out its ordeals. For that social revolution, the people should decide the style!