Democracy vs. our cherished values

Democracy, the new god worshipped by most nations of the world has many variants. It ranges from its original 5th century Athenian mob rule of all free born male adult  to 1949 George Orwell’s 1984 imaginary world where citizens have only obligations without rights  as the state controls the citizens’ thoughts, the number of children they have, the type of education the children received, their daily movement and  when to die and where to be buried to today’s participatory democracy  which in spite of its celebrated attributes, is nothing but a rule of privileged group to protect the disproportionate privileges extracted from society.

A nation’s variant of democracy is defined by actions of the leaders and the apathy of the led. Our 15 years democratic experiment has produced leaders such as Obasanjo and Jonathan, who are intolerant of opposition, the press and who instead of recourse to compromise would employ the awesome power of state to achieve their objectives which range between desperate bid to hold on to power through ‘do or die election’ to the protection of their group who have confiscated our common patrimony. The two leaders, along with other PDP elected leaders since 1999, have defined our own variant of democracy. Of the 23 PDP governors that emerged at the onset of the 4th republic in 1999. 17 were either in jail for corruption, on the run from justice or facing proceedings in court over abuse of office. Those who have served their terms and a few who still have criminal charges hanging on their necks have been accommodated  through presidential amnesty that has integrated them back into the system as elected senators, appointed ministers or members of the on-going Confab. Of course prominent in this list is Ayo Fayose whose recent victory in Ekiti governorship election in Ekiti came  through highly  induced  200,000 voters, out of a population of 1.7 million people, a development which  Femi Falana says has returned his Ekiti compatriots to  Egypt for the next four years.

Tragically, all the nation has to show as dividends of our own variant of democracy is arrested development, infrastructural decay and massive corruption.  Those who had called attention to this in the past were dismissed as ‘an army of sponsored and self-appointed anarchists who criticize the president out of ignorance and abuse him out of mischief’. And now with 2015, in mind, the president has gone ahead to hire the best image makers money can buy to change reality through subliminal psychological warfare.  We have been told to accept the presidency’s war against his perceived enemies in the Yoruba land, in Adamawa, Nasarawa and Rivers as ‘driven by love of God and nation’; that the president has solved our energy crisis  despite the fact that many of the the 120 million Nigerians the minister of power said could not be supplied with electricity run their cheep Chinese-made generating sets on N95 per litre fuel. And that as the war by insurgents which has led to the abduction of helpless women, school girls and mindless killing of ordinary Nigerians become more vicious, we are told the president has fought the criminals to a ‘stand still’. Billions of naira that would have gone into developmental efforts has been deployed by the president’s unidentified promoters on prime-time television slots and other forms of media to change reality.

Perhaps more threatening to our survival as a nation is the on-going desecration of the culture and values of our federating nationalities noticeable in recent times mostly in the South-west where those suspected to have criminal records have been imposed on the people as leaders without giving a damn about how the people feel. Cultural values are the pillars of society. This perhaps explains why the colonial masters that conquered us as different nations were sincere enough to have advocated the building of our own variant of democracy around the value systems that had sustained our different nationalities for centuries before the advent of the European fortune-seekers. For instance, Clifford in 1921pointedly told Nigerians that “real national self-government must be obtained through local tribal institutions and the indigenous forms of government…the natural experiences of their innate political genius”.

Oliver Stanley in 1945 reiterated this when he said the objective of Nigeria federal arrangement was “to see the various territories develop themselves along the lines of their own national aptitude their own culture and their own tradition”.

Their advocacy stemmed from their discovery that social organizations in many African societies were highly developed before the European fortune-seekers came to Africa in search of gold and glory. For instance among the Yoruba nation, the people didn’t need Robert Michels’ ‘sociological study of oligarchical tendencies of modern democracies’ to realize centuries ago that to prevent the king from becoming an oligarch because of the apathy of the people, the ‘Ogbonis’ secret society must serve as a counter-force to the power of the king. They did not need a resort to Machiavelli’s advise to the Prince to know that the king maker is the first victim of the new king if he wants a peaceful and uninterrupted reign. Centuries before “central values systems’  of Parson’s ‘structural functionalism’ or David Easton’s  input, output and feedback functions in his  ‘systems analysis’, Yoruba tells you  that enito jale lekan, to  daran bori, aso ole da bora {a once convicted thief attracted only contempt in Yoruba society}. And as a way of feedback, the sins of the fathers must be visited on the sons. It is this cultural, practice that aided Yoruba social organization which P.C Lloyd admitted was superior to that of Europe as at the time of their coming.

This has come under serious erosion in recent years. It is today facing additional threat as President Goodluck Jonathan employs all forms of strategies including desecration of our values in his battle to capture the Yoruba nation in 2015. Even ex-President Obasanjo who has always prided himself as a Nigerian leader recently said he felt diminished as an indigene of Ogun State to have Buruji Kashamu, a man he claimed has criminal cases to face in the US, imposed by the president as PDP leader in the South-west. Kashamu and Fayose might have not been indicted by any court, but it is a fact recently confirmed by a senior US official that Kashamu still has a case to answer in the US courts, just as it is a fact that EFCC has dragged Fayose to court over billions allegedly spent on a non-existent poultry projects before his impeachment as governor of Ekiti State. That they have these cases are enough to disqualify both for position of leadership in Yorubaland. The same argument holds for the Minister of Police Affairs and Iyiola Omisore, current PDP governorship candidate in the coming Osun State governorship election. The former allegedly fled Nigeria following the brutal assassination of Chief Bola Ige in his house as Minister of Justice and Attorney General while the latter was in fact in police detention from where he was awarded a senate seat. Their celebration by the president and PDP as leaders along with offspring of those who for pot of gold betrayed the cause of the Yoruba in the past demonstrates the president’s disdain for the Yoruba and their cultural values.

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