The survival of a nation depends on the good its leadership can bring to bear on the people of the nation. No nation is guaranteed continuous existence if her citizens wallow in abject poverty especially if such a nation is identified as having the potential human and material resources that guarantee greatness.
This writing is not going to make any attempt to define democracy. The believe is that good leadership can be achieved without necessarily launching a nation into the part of democracy. However sweet and assuring this believe might be, democracy has about 90% assurance of producing credible leadership.
Nigeria in its 48 years of independence has been able to evolve a different kind of its own democracy. If democracy to a layman is government of the people, by the people, for the people, Nigerian brand of democracy has given world intellectuals and local and international political think-tanks a reason to think that their basic or elementary definition of democracy is, after all, questionable and inadequate.
Ours is a democracy that thrive upon filth. Leaders are selected rather than elected, electorates are subjugated rather than liberated; and results of votes cast are cooked up in someone’s living room rather than collated from the honest votes of the electorates. Individuals are maimed and killed each time they attempt to defend their rights to bring to power leaders of their choice. “Ewu” goats are appointed to mar the success of free and fair elections. They are prepared to be excellent “cooks” who prepare magnificent “meals” called results of elections from their kitchens called INEC or SIEC. Some of these ‘ewu’ goats tagged themselves conscientious goats who would not announce results that kick against their beliefs and conscience just to be seen and heard , after series of consultations with head beneficiary of their nefarious acts, who lives in a rock, and head of all goats who manages the head kitchen, announcing result that kicked against the conscience and popular will of the people.
The central point of this write up is connection between Nigerian democracy and what international scholars called failed state. Joel Midgal as quoted by John Emeka Akude defines a nation state as:
an organization composed of numerous agencies led and coordinated by the
state’s leadership (executive authority) that has the ability or authority to make
and implement the binding rules for all the people as well as the parameters of
rules making for other social organizations in a given territory, using force if
necessary to have its way.
The ability of the leadership to lead and coordinate the numerous agencies that make up the state must be gained from the detachment of the office of the leadership from the occupant of the office. The leader should not be the office, but the office must be the leader. The office has the physical control of the territory that make the nation state, make collective decisions, provide reasonable public services, and be able to interact with other nation states as a full member of the international community. All these are indicators of a stable and enduring nation state.
When a nation state through the office of its leadership can no longer perform its basic responsibility of provision of security and development, and has no effective control over its territory and borders, this nation state is termed a failed state. It is a failed nation state because it CAN NO LONGER REPRODUCE THE CONDITIONS FOR ITS OWN EXISTENCE. Do we have any reason not to see Nigeria as a failed state?
The central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little or no control over some parts of its territory. Niger- Delta is a clear example. The government has lost control that the only thing left to her is to waste the lives of innocent citizens all in the name of fighting the militants.
It can no longer provide public services: our hospitals (if we have any to call hospitals) are worst than General Sani Abacha’s “mere consulting clinics”, public educational services are not offered any more. Our universities and colleges are not better than playgrounds where the children of the common Nigerians go to play until their teachers/ lecturers are tired and find a way to send them back to their parents through endless strikes. Where are our airports today? If you take a leisure walk to Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano, I’m not sure one would allow his pet bird to take off and land there.
Our roads are death traps. The highways and all the “B” and “C” roads, except perhaps in few states, where the leadership is becoming more responsive, are no longer motorable all the year round. A few days ago in Kano State a family lost 22 of its members to a road accident. Reason was simply because a driver was trying to dodge potholes.
Power supply is no longer an issue for public discussion. Steady power supply in Nigeria is equated to asking a resident Nigerian astronaut to go to the space. Nigerian comedian, Bright Okocha a.k.a Basket Mouth, said the case of power supply is so bad that when the then NEPA now PHCN seized light and one lights on a candle, NEPA officials come to one’s house and blow out the candle. All that is needed is total lights out.
FIFA is threatening to cancel Nigeria’s bid to host the Under 17 World Cup because we cannot provide stadia capable of hosting the world. Nigeria who in the 70’s hosted the whole of Africa in FESTAC 77 cannot host an Under 17 World Cup competition. I guess we do not have to worry about football. It is not our priority now. Our priority is where the money goes; our pockets.
It is only a failed nation state of Nigeria that allows widespread corruption and criminality. Discussing corruption in Nigeria is closely related to discussing NOTHING. It is no longer news to hear the low and mighty involve in corruption. In fact, the apt one is in corrupt practices the more respected one becomes. Where do you start from: the presidency (executive) or the senate? What about House of Representatives? Where do you place officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force? You do not need to leave the Custom, Immigration, Road Safety, Nigerian Army, NAFDAC and PHCN out. Our teachers, lecturers and students are glaring examples of what corruption is like in Nigeria. States and local government officials are not exempted. The list is inexhaustible.
Crime is so rife that those involve in the act have perfected their actions to such an extent that it may take the combine effort of CIA, KGB, Scotland Yard Police, MOSSAD to crack down a criminal in Nigeria. Armed robbers display their James Bond (007) like tricks as if one is watching stunts in a movie. They have taken control of banks, roads and lately markets. The case of Thursday/ Friday Wuse Market robbery attack speaks volumes. Cult activities are other examples one can cite on the issue of criminality.
Only a failed nation state of Nigeria will allow its citizens to involuntarily move away from the country. A walk around embassies and consulates of foreign countries in Nigeria would amaze you. Nigerians in their droves are ready to relocate to any part of the world for as long as it is not Nigeria. Brain drain is another indicator of mass movement away from Nigeria. With all the ill-treatment some Nigerians receive in some countries – South Africa, Malaysia for example- countries that would not have stood close to Nigeria were Nigeria not a failed state, they better live abroad or overseas than live in Nigeria.
It is only in a failed nation of Nigeria that a government would come up with a policy that would deliberately devalue her currency – the Naira. The government cannot regulate the market which by extension means regulating prices for the comfort of the common man. Industrials die every day. The devaluation of the Naira, inability to control inflation and industrials folding up every day are all pointers to sharp economic decline – a central characteristics of a failed nation state like Nigeria.
How has the Nigerian brand of democracy helped to throw our beloved nation into this quagmire and making her rank among the topmost nations who are at the alert stage of failed nations according to the Fund for Peace, a United States think- tank? The answer is simply.
A truly democratic society must separate its political power away from its economic power. Individuals must be seen to clearly control political power and other individuals should control economic power. This way a symbiotic relationship is created. The political power holders know they have to deliver peace and stability and functioning infrastructure if they must be supported by the economic power holders who guarantee the existence of the political class through financing of public administration through internal economic activities that provide taxes to the government.
In Nigeria the power of the political class is determined by how economically strong one is. Just as one’s economic status is determined by one’s political power. It is clear that the more economically strong one is the more politically powerful one becomes, and vice versa. This explains why our democracy just would not work. The elites will do whatever it takes to have, control and remain in power because to them it is the surest way to economic “breakthrough”. Since a clearly defined divide cannot be made between Nigerian political class and the economic class, individuals at the helm of affairs do not feel obliged or obligated to any other class. So the absence of the economic class (distinct from political class), who by design of true democracy forces the political class to deliver good governance, allows the political class to eat their cake and have it.
The common man is not allowed to institute the kind of leadership he desires and for that reason does not have the right to demand good governance. However sad this may be for the common man and Nigeria in general HOPE is not lost. Hope is not lost because Nigeria, by the divine design of the MERCIFUL GOD, is for the political and economic elites as well as the common man. The politico- economic elites have failed Nigeria and Nigerians and have paradoxically launched Nigeria among the “ WORST FAILED” nation states in world. Behind every pain the Nigerian common man has suffered and is suffering there will come a relief. This is the promise of God and His words shall come to pass.
Interestingly, God’s relief comes after He has given signs that it is coming. For Nigeria, the signs are: our current executive, especially at the national level, most of the legislators, and the so called board of trustees of PDP do not mean Nigeria well; and the gate to change needed in Nigeria is now open. I mean 2011 is just some meters away from us. Our relief is in our hands already. If we stand to change the status quo, God will always be there for us.
There are two ways to getting the relief, i.e. the needed change. Theoretical solution and practical solution. Theoretically, which unfortunately has never worked in Nigeria, requires that:
a) our society be restructured to create two interdependent classes – the political class which would depend on the economic class to provide the needed taxes derivable from its internal economic activities; and an economic class which would depend on the political class to provide and pursue economic activities by provision of basic amenities that guarantee healthy economic growth.
b) Our dependence on foreign assisted development has not helped in the kind of development we need, therefore, our leaders must look inward. IMF and World Bank are not the way out.
Above can only be achieved by instituting a genuine democracy that allows respect for rule of law and human rights. And this brings in the practical solution to our myriad of problems and neglect. Nigerian situation, historically, has proved that peaceful enthronement of genuine democracy and good governance through the choice of credible leaders – leaders of the choice of the majority, is almost impossible. The way to achieving this is the use of force. Nigerian political system speaks only the language of the UNCIVILIZED. So if we must institute a genuine and lasting democracy, we must be willing to speak the language our leaders understand – the uncivilized language. Language of violence.
2011 can and should give us the leaders we need and the leaders of our choice. To achieve this, the common man must:
a) not allow his vote to go uncounted. We must not vote and turn our backs and allow the ‘ewu’ goats at INEC and SIEC give us their results.
b) We must be willing to face the forces of coercion used by the politico- economic elites to perpetrate their continuous existence in power. We must match the police and army force to force; but where they demand peace, we give peace.
c) If a conscientious “ewu” goat announces a leader we are sure we did not vote for, we must make sure he/she does not occupy the seat. And where he/she succeeds, we must make the office unbearable for him/her.
d) We must learn that a healthy political climate is achieved through meaningful and peaceful protests and or demonstrations. When a leader of our choice seems to be going off the track, we can bring him back by peaceful demonstration or protest or demand our seat back.
In conclusion, we need to note that even if ours is a completely failed nation state through the actions and or inactions of our leaders who feel theirs is a guaranteed continuous existence in power even if they do not deliver good governance, we can bounce back to vibrant and enduring nation state. We can only be resilient enough if we believe that the gate to our relief is widely open come 2011, and we are willing to take our common destiny into our hands by changing the status quo. It is not only in the America of Obama that “change we can”, change we also CAN in Nigeria and we must have the change in 2011.
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