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The dismantling of a democratic magnifying glass


Sir: Whilst a handful of renowned newspapers play the role of watchdogs, some have taken the back seat, and many others have confrontationally leaned to partisan alignments. When the opposition parties honestly criticise the policies of government, one anticipates that ombudsmen appointed by the administration, will investigate criticisms as a matter of course and, not the tawdry attitude of government appointees who always join issues with the opposition, as though their job description is only to pugnaciously attack opponents. How will this spokespeople act if people were to start a social media account asking specifically for an official to be thrown out of office? Governmental behaviours anywhere in the world is monitored by the opposition whether, spokespeople like it or not. Special interest groups should be able to take complaints from constituents against government departments/personnel which in turn must be investigated responsibly and not otherwise by governments’ ombudsmen.

Unfortunately the church, and the Islamic council (as significant as they ought to have been), have all contributed to the destruction of the magnifying glass in Nigeria. How you might ask: they have mixed politics with religion even though it is a truism – that politics and religious tenets do not mix.

Today some church leaders in this country jostle for the opportunity to have elected leaders come to their church services; they take snapshots after that, which is displayed prominently on the front pages of national papers. Others are even seen praying for such leaders, but only a minority come out to reprove elected officials on the need to promote good governance by following laid down democratic precepts and the rule of law. I have heard a pseudo-pastor, from close quarters say, somewhere, that, he asked an impeached state governor prior to his removal (as a spiritual warning), not to travel out of the country but he wouldn’t listen. Failure to heed the warning: led to his impeachment, he said. How drab. I have also, heard many say that the country’s present-day president was sent by God as our knight of shining armor. What a spiritually-carefree statement to make. The Islamic council has also not done better, especially, in the Northern part of Nigeria where demagoguery is now a matter of state.

Supposing, you have a Christian president: who might be able to reach out to the other side, to work together, a moderate, with charisma who can inspire fighting troops as commander in chief of the armed forces, one with a clear cut economic programme, with plans on how he hopes to achieve them (not a tabula rasa), chances are that he would still be condemned by the northern religious cabal not on his governing philosophy and, policies but because of his religious belief, initiated only by an accident of birth. But the council, in contrasts would not think it odd that, some elected northern administrators in the past have doled state monies to converts from others faith -to their faith even when these resources are a thrust for development and not for the proliferation of dogmas. This is the major reason why, despite the underdevelopment of the north, there are no social action groups to push for answerable governance in that part of Nigeria.
Simon Abah, teacher, speaker, campaigner, consultant, wrote from Abuja.


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Simon Abah
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