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Because Nigeria’s democracy is unsafe


Martins Oloja

It’s time to stop the march of democracy Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the prophet once called dem don crazy, demonstation of craze… in this country. It’s time to speak truth not only to power, but to ourselves – that the majesty of democracy has been defiled and so we the people have to thrash the project in the most populous black nation on earth! Yes, it is time to crash democracy here because the main strength of its majesty, the rule of law, has become the rule of man, and indeed the rule of lawyers. And so we do not need to read law before awareness that where man with the aid of unethical lawyers rule, without the rule of law, there will be chaos and consequently there will be no progress before the end of time. As a student, I read Chief ObafemiAwolowo’s treatise on

“The travails of democracy and the rule of law” but I did not understand – until now! So, I would like to join forces with the real people who have not been carried away by the only dividend that democracy in Nigeria has delivered to us, corruption, to campaign to end the reign of this house called democracy that has indeed fallen. The house has fallen not because Buhari, the soldier is in power today. Project democracy has failed not because a Fulani man has been in office since May 29, 2015. The majesty of democracy has been desecrated not because an Ijaw man with a doctorate degree has ruled this country.

Democracy has failed in Nigeria not because an Owuman, ruled this place for eleven years too. Democracy has failed not only because there have been too many “soldiers of fortune” in office and in power here including the two strong men on a hill far away in Minna. It wasn’t the soldier with a dark goggle alone that ruined the excellency of democracy here… Behold, the man who should be held responsible for the collapse of democracy is called, “complacency”! Yes complacency, also known as “contentment”, “gratification”, “pleasure”, “civility”, “courtesy”. Really, the God of man, not any man of God, please, has revealed that yes; “complacency” is the man, the stronghold that has ruined the majesty of democracy in this place. And here are the gifts of the man: he is a sycophant. He does not like pen pushers who speak truth to power. He does not read. He is not discernible. He is perpetually afraid of any governing cabal that is ruthless and doesn’t tolerate the rule of law.


The prominent but insignificant man complacency is perpetually filled with Epicurean spirit (loves pleasure and good life). He likes a little learning and so is ruled by intuition, not by learning or knowledge. Oh, he does not like the power that knowledge gives. He worships mediocrity in all his ways. He does not like anyone to peddle any excellence spirit in his domain. He doesn’t like to see law enforcement agents. The only adorable thing he likes is media trial of corrupt people where suspects are named and shamed before investigations. What’s worse, casual readers of the word of God hardly recognize that Goliath too had children that admirers of David too had to contend with after his (David’s) victory. And so the offspring of the limited man, complacency are always reinforced in the system by the “economic man” who also has a cousin called the “administrative man”. Both men are not patriots, after all. They also do not care about gains that democracy can bring to the people. They work only for the gods of their bellies. And worse still, his expectations of the governing system are very low.

According to a managerial economist, Ripunjay Tiwari, the economic man is purpose-driven. He is rational in that he can order his various preferences according to his hierarchy of values and then actually make his choice in order to maximize some desired value. To the economic man, there is complete awareness of various alternatives and the outcome of each alternative can be identified so that the alternative with the best outcome is selected.
It assumes that there is no limit on the collectionof information and its processing. That is the way of the “economic man” who benefits from an atmospherics of the main man, complacency.

In the same vein, the “administrative man” is a relation of the economic man in the kingdom of complacency. According to Herbert Simon, a policy guru, the “administrative man” has only a limited, simplified view of problems confronting his society because he has only limited information.

Besides, he does not have full knowledge of all the possible alternative solutions to the problems and their outcomes. What is more, he does not have capacity to navigate the competitive environment and technical information therein.

Therefore, human and organizational limitations make it impossible for people to make perfectly rational decisions where the “economic man” and the “administrative man” dominate in a society ruled by complacency. There are always ‘boundaries to rationality’ in such a milieu. Because democracy is fragile here, these men always seize power at the centre.

That is why we have to sound the alarm that Mr. Complacency has to wake up from political stupor that the “economic man” and “the administrative man” would like us to remain in this age that young men and women are daily disrupting with social technologies that help them to make progress. I would like to challenge all the young ones below 40’s to be interested in this country that democracy has relegated to one of the poorest on earth. Let no young one be deceived by the common public enemy called complacency ruling everywhere you go in Nigeria. This democracy that has survived for only the “economic man” since 1999, cannot lead this potentially great country to greatness. It is even unsafe at the moment.


This is the time to tell some home truth to the young ones from 30 and above that they should print out the lyrics of the Nigeria’s national anthem and spring from their rhetoric in the social media to action, “lest we should be the last” as a Ghanaian writer, Kwesi Brew once warned us.

The national anthem should be their (call-to-action) weapon of social mobilization so that democracy will be rescued as a curse since 1999. The young ones that successive generations, including mine have failed should brace up to take back their blessed country, which politicians have ruined. There is still some architecture in the rubbles. And so, the young and vibrant ones should arise and obey Nigeria’s call. This is so because instead of fulfilling the pledge to Nigeria, to be faithful, loyal and honest, our leaders have become unfaithful, disloyal and dishonest in all the arms of government. Instead of “serving the country with all their strength”, they have been looting the country’s treasury with all their strength. Instead of defending her unity, they have been condoning “disunity” that the governing party’s leadership has been unleashing on the country with insufferable and unending “parochial appointments”.

There is neither honour, nor glory left for the citizens to cherish. Every day, young ones weep for the state of anomie in a country, where most of the leaders are virtually sleeping on duty. And as a foremost African writer, Ngugiwa Thiong’o notes, “Hope of a better tomorrow is the only comfort you can give to a weeping child”. In this case, there is no glimmer of hope of a better tomorrow beyond sloganeering. Eighteen years of democracy has delivered only a man called complacency to the nation. The economy is in a shambles. Electricity has always been around 4000 megawatts for the 180 + million people in 36 states and the nation’s capital. Generally, after 18 years of consistent democratization, there are no good link roads from states to states.

Even the roads to the economic agencies including the Air and Sea Ports in the so-called economic capital of West Africa, Lagos are the worst on earth. 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.


As for healthcare delivery, this column has been asking questions in the past three weeks why even the often sickly presidents, some of whom have died in office have not considered it expedient to fund even the university teaching hospital in Ibadan to a world class it used to be, where they can get medical services. Where is the ray of hope where legislooters, executhieves and judi-sharing as citizen journalists now call them, collaborate to protect their accused members in an enclave nurtured by complacency?

As we have seen through the ages as noted by James Laxar, democracy emerged in a particular historical and cultural context as a consequence of specific social, political and economic struggles. And yet, there has been no compelling evidence that there is a universal yearning for democracy in all cultures and social settings, and we can therefore dispense with the dubious proposition that democracy is an outgrowth of human nature. And so the appetite for democracy arises not from political theory but from the tangible needs of millions of people. The young ones should note that above all, democracy is advanced by the success of political movements whose goal is to improve the lives of the majority of the population in a number of ways. This has not happened in our country.

Today, as Chinua Achebe noted in 1983, the trouble with Nigeria is still leadership that has institutionalized 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 paralyzed democracy to an alarming extent. And so to the young ones, organize. Yes, organize. Don’t agonize anymore. This is the big data age. Get cracking in organizing your data on how Nigeria’s power elite, politicians, civil servants and morons called business barons have demonized 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. And so in 2019, the young talents here should not allow the greedy kingmakers to cast a pearl called democratic leadership before a swine, lest they continue to mess the country up. The weapon they always use is called complacency. Thrash it, please!

In this article:
Martins Oloja
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