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Enough of Thermidorian density!

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Over time, the term Thermidor has come to mean the phase in some revolutions when power slips from the hands of the original revolutionary leadership and a radical regime and placed into the hands of a more conservative and repressive regime; sometimes to the point where the political pendulum may swing back towards something resembling a pre-revolutionary state. The term has its root in the epochal eighteenth-century French revolution. A faction of the National Convention (NC) in that turbulent phase of France’s evolution, in July 1794, denounced its leader, Maximilien Robespierre, as “a tyrant.”

Robespierre and twenty-one of his close associates, including Louis Antoine de Saint-Just were subsequently arrested, tried and beheaded. But the rigorous demands of revolutionary leadership would prove overwhelming for Robespierre and Saint-Just’s successors; these latter would later be referred to in history as Thermidorians.

In their amateurish grasp of the intricacies of political leadership amid their crisis of confidence, the Thermidorians ill-advisedly excluded most of the principal groups who had joined in the conspiracy to remove Robespierre and Saint-Just from NC leadership. The Thermidorians thus started off on a wrong footing; their subsequent desperation for self-preservation would force them further down that dark alley of exclusion of former allies, thereby denying the Thermidorian leadership the benefits of some of France’s ablest minds. The result was all too predictable. Unprecedented unemployment, run-away inflation, and associated economic hardships coupled with massive disaffections would ignite another round of chaos in the French revolution; thus betraying the citizenry’s high hopes in the revolution and bringing the proverbial wheel to full circle.

That Thermidorian betrayal of the peoples’ aspirations by supposedly revolutionary regimes is documented by subsequent history. Leon Trotsky’s book, “The Revolution betrayed”, would refer to Joseph Stalin in rising to power following the 1917 Russian revolution as a Soviet Thermidor. Back in Africa of the 1960s, political analysts would write about “The amateurish density of the Thermidorians” in commenting on the crass incompetence of the “singlet and khaki boys” who had orchestrated the overthrow and eventually succeeded the architect of the Ghanaian independence, Kwame Nkrumah; just to mention few of such betrayals of the citizenry’s aspirations by self-professed redeemers.

Fast forward to the 2000s, and by direct inference Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) could be fairly perceived as a party of Thermidorians. Apparently paying scant attention to the practical demands of office, the party had raised the hopes of an anxious Nigerian citizenry by making a political capital of the lackluster performance of then-incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Federal Government; more so in the area of interior insecurity – the then single most important concern in Nigeria. The fact that the APC presidential candidate was a retired army general had been decisive in sweeping PDP out of power, in the certain hope that APC would in its turn sweep away the pervasive insecurity with its ubiquitous fresh brooms. This was the citizenry’s evident least expectation of APC’s three-point agenda: Corruption, Economy and Security.

Most regrettably, however, that least expectation of the citizenry has in three years of APC’s national leadership, proved to be as impossible as finding icicles in the tropics. Interior security in Nigeria is today at an all time high, with scores of hapless citizens murdered in cold blood across the country on virtually weekly basis, much to the expressed alarm of the international community. (The bereaved families in the recent massacre in Plateau State are in our prayers). On the economy, conflicting, if unrepresentative economic and financial policies have propelled inflation and unemployment to record high levels; while the unacceptably low exchange-rate value of the national currency, the naira, continues to significantly de-industrialise Nigeria.

It is pertinent to point out that published figures on inflation and unemployment on the Nigerian economy merely capture the “effective” and not the “actual” statistics. The actual economic situation is much more damning – this is reflected in the exponential increase in economic crimes, particularly in the previous decade. On corruption, the APC Federal Government manifest anti-graft approach has been widely adjudged conspicuously biased against the opposition parties, while indicted APC’s members are not investigated, let alone face prosecution. It is also hypocritical that an anti-graft government would blatantly flout Public Procurement procedures in issuing major contracts, as demonstrated in the scandalous purchase of Tucano military aircraft for USD496 million without the constitutional input of the National Assembly!

It is therefore little wonder that the wheel of the citizenry’s palpable state of hopelessness in 2014, particularly in the general area of interior insecurity, has turned full circle in 2018. The recent genocidal attacks in Plateau State should finally bring in the jury: The incumbent Federal Government cannot protect lives and property of the Nigerian citizenry, simpliciter! APC’s unfurling dispersion on the eve of an election year, an empirical proof of the party’s utter failure to deliver on its promises, is likened to PDP’s dispersion on the eve of the 2015 election.

Indeed, the ongoing dispersion had been in the offing for awhile, no rational person overtly associates with deception and failure – the emerging dispersion is a classic consequence of Thermidorian density. And, like in 2015, the 2018 dispersion has made the Nigerian electorate’s work relatively easy; but, and this cannot be over emphasized, the electorate must now discharge that work most conscientiously by avoiding, like a plague, a repeat of the 2015 cataclysmically wrong judgment of replacing one set of Thermidorians with another. It goes without saying that Nigeria has had enough of Thermidorian density.
Nkemdiche, an engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja.


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