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#Project-2023: Will democracy be safe, after all? 

By Martins Oloja
22 May 2022   |   2:59 am
It is yet another time to ask if this transition programme, which began this weekend with primaries of the ruling party won’t stop the march of democracy the iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Buhari. Photo/FACEBOOK/ TheAsoVilla

It is yet another time to ask if this transition programme, which began this weekend with primaries of the ruling party won’t stop the march of democracy the iconic Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the prophet once called “dem don crazy,” “demonstration of craze “in this country of anything-is-possible. It is indeed a time to speak truth not only to power, but to ourselves – that the majesty of democracy is again being defiled and so we the people have to be vigilant from this weekend lest democracy and indeed the country may come to harm. Yes, it is a time to safeguard 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 our strong men whose hands we may need to tie. And so we do not need to read law before an awareness that where a man with the aid of restless and unethical legislators rule, without the rule of law, there will be chaos and consequently there will be no progress before the end of time for the black-man’s hope, Nigeria. As a student, I read Chief Obafemi Awolowo’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 travails of democracy house that has indeed fallen. The house has fallen not only because Buhari, the soldier is in power today. Project democracy is failing not only 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. The house of democracy is falling in Nigeria not because an Owu man, ruled this place for 11 years too. Democracy is being demonised 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 excellence 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” – nurtured by curious elite conspiracy. Really, the God of man, not any man of God, 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’s 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 recognise 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 maximise 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 collection of 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 a limited information piece.  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 organisational 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, unfortunately.

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. That democracy is even unsafe at the moment.

As I once noted here on Sunday, May 21, 2017, this is another 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” in the comity of nations as a Ghanaian writer, Kwesi Brew once warned us.  

The national anthem should be their (call-to-action) weapon of social mobilisation 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 ruins. 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, the 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, Ngugi wa 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. Twenty three years of democracy this month 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 200 + million people in 36 states and the nation’s capital. Generally, after 22 years of consistent democratisation, there are no good link roads from states to states even as air transport fares have become unbearable. 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 seven years why even the often 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. 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 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. And so to the young ones, organise. Yes, organise. Don’t agonise anymore. This is the big data age. Get cracking in organising your data on how Nigeria’s power elite, politicians, civil servants 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. And so in #Project-2023, 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 our country up. The weapon they always use is called complacency. Thrash it, please! Nigeria belongs to all of us and we shouldn’t allow it to fail.