The demon of demo-garchy
To the average Nigerian politician, power is everything. He breathes it, dreams it and even to the point of obsession. He loves that capacity to control the destinies of men, money and materials. But unfortunately, his driving desires move, centripetally for self-serving reasons rather than meeting the needs and aspirations of the larger majority. The word ‘legacy’ has no place in his political lexicography. He wants to be on top, always to call the shots, to have his word as law, to be feared and obeyed as a demi-god. His ego is massaged only when you sing his praises to the highest heavens. He is deaf, even angered by all sorts of criticism. His myopic concept of political power is narrowed further by the type of democracy we practise; where the constitution is skewed in favour-at his whims and caprices, to suit his needs. Like every heady intoxicant political power turns dangerous when, as in the instance of the average Nigerian politician, it is personalised.
What should ordinarily belong to the people who elected him into power, now belong to him and his cronies. In the Nigerian context, where political power comes with the perquisites, the panoply and the plums of office, the average politician feels he is not yet fulfilled until he has the appellation of president, minister, senator, governor, commissioner or even councillor appended to his name. Only then does he feel honourable! He suffers from complex: from the delusion of the grandeur of ephemeral power to the point that his fear of losing that position is equal to the penchant and the struggle he mustered to get there. That is why once out of power, he feels insecure, naked to the vagaries of prevailing political forces. It is that morbid fear of losing grip on power that has brought a strange dimension to the Nigerian political scenario. Have you not noticed that Nigerians are now daily inundated with political appointments that smirk of nothing but nepotism? Plum posts are going into the hands of the sons, daughters, brothers and relations of the past and present political leaders that ridicule the footsteps of our tottering democracy. The post of director –general, commissioners, ministers must go to some blood relation of a political god father rather than based on the principles of merit and sound integrity.
Though some analysts have argued that even in the United States we have had the Kennedy, Bush and Clinton families producing presidents, the truth of the matter is that they were intellectually qualified, with the wealth of requisite experience to aim for and eventually wear the crown of presidential glory! For now, what do we make of a state where a political godfather has his son as the governor and the daughter up there in the Senate? Or, as in Imo State the citizens are agonising over appointments of the incumbent governor, his relations, to the pint of wanting to foist one of them as his ‘worthy’ successor? Is that democracy or another form of oligarchy or even feudalism? It gets worse when present actions of the man at the helm of affairs exhibit the traits of a man out on a vengeance mission. What do we make of a nation-state where the topmost political posts (apart from personal aides), favour a particular geo-political zone, including known relations of the helmsmen? Can we call that democracy? No is the answer. While true “democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people,” as the former U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln once state what is gradually emerging in the Nigeria’s political terrain is government of the politicians by the politicians, to serve only the political class. It is a monster waiting in the wings to turn our so-called democracy into a theatre of the absurd. The question is, if our fathers served their fathers, why must we too serve their sons? What manner of democracy turns the electorate into some docile nitwits?
As reflected in one of my poems, titled, ‘When our children cry’: ‘Our earthen pot bore the water that irrigated their forest of dreams. Must we also weed the thistle and thorns of their children’s gardens?’ Agreed that in nature, there is a hierarchical order. Take the anthill for instance. Dig deep beneath the soil surface of the termitarium and you find the royal chamber housing the king and queen termites. Surrounding their mansion on every side are the soldier ants with their powerful, scissors-sharp mandibles, ready to unleash terror on those who may wish to inch close to the fortress of the untouchables. And tending to their every need are the worker-termites, dutiful and diligent, blindly loyal, almost to a fault. That is the anthill kingdom. But in the human community, and more so under the dictates of democracy, the led majority cannot be equated to the zombie-like and unquestioning worker-termites. We are co-partakers and partners in the acts of governance. Or should be. While we all cannot be leaders at the same time the onus lies on those lucky enough to hold the reins of office to use political power as a tool of Trust, to deliver democratic dividends to the people, and to right the wrongs of the prevailing socio-economic order.
Power should not be seen as an avenue solely for self-enrichment. It should not be manipulated with the aim of meeting the needs of only the blood-relations or the god-fathers who invested huge sums of money to oil the state electoral machinery for their selfish ends. This is one querulous area that the much-touted political restructuring should take a closer look at. The failure to come to terms with this inalienable fact is giving rise to the monster of demo-garchy, which must be nipped in the bud- sooner than later. Only that will strengthen the institution of our long-cherished and hard-won democracy.
No comments yet