As Wicked As The Nigerian State
By Dan Amor
Anyone living in Nigeria especially since the 2015 general elections and the subsequent emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari as President, would have known that politically the nation is sitting on the keg of gun powder. There is a regime of palpable fear in the land as the political thermometer cannot easily be interpreted by analysts no matter how discerning they might be. The situation is compounded by an unnerving weight of mayhem that appears to have engulfed the entire geo-political space like a cankerworm. Rampaging Fulani herdsmen on killing spree have turned many states in the North West and North Central, and many parts of Southern Nigeria to killing fields thereby sentencing thousands of armless Nigerians to their early graves without a blink of eyelid from the government.
In fact, the quality of democratic practice in the past two and a half years has been abysmal, with public functionaries at all levels of government consciously exploiting weaknesses of the system to advance interests that run counter to the common good. Within the same administration, the Directorate of State Services and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are at daggers drawn just as the Ministry of Justice and the same EFCC do not see eye to eye. There is a huge disconnect in the security architecture of the country. Aside from Boko Haram and herdsmen insurgency, there are still pockets of mockery killings and kidnappings across the country. In spite of all this, the government does not care any hoot about the survival of the average Nigerian amidst the total collapse of social infrastructure across the country.
The consequence has been the inability of the state to adequately fulfill the minimum expectations of an orderly and progressive modern society. Whatever dreams the termination of military rule engendered in the hearts of the populace have long fizzled out as the political class has proved incapable of planning and transforming the vast resources of the nation into tools for economic and social developments. Hunger has invaded Nigerian homes like a plague due to misgovernance by the ruling party. Food is now so scarce from the dining tables of most Nigerians that many families have resorted to the unimaginable option of selling some of their children to willing buyers just to feed the remaining ones. Now, the condition has been compounded by an unnerving bout of fuel scarcity across the country while oil marketers are having a field day selling at exorbitant prices in the black market in the face of a helpless and impotent APC government that cannot monitor the marketers.
Yet, what has engaged the attention and concern of well-meaning Nigerians in recent times is the bleak political future of the country exemplified by the inability and lack of capacity on the part of incumbents in the corridors of power to to deliver on their campaign promises to the electorate. It is therefore worrisome that the 2015 election which was celebrated all over the country and the world at large, would spell doom for the future of the country if nothing is done to stem the tide. There are even flashes from the rumour mills that government is deliberately stoking the fire-favouring an objective condition for anarchy – so as to create a situation whereby there will be no election in 2019. Whatever that means, given the fact that the nation is drifting to no end, Nigerian politicians must strive to be upright in their pursuit of power bearing in mind that deliberately creating time bombs will not help the polity.
The master schemers of a possible stalemate in the transition to a new political dispensation in 2019 must perish the thought. Yet the government under whose watch Nigerians are experiencing untold hardship of unimaginable dimension is daily boasting that no political party in the country can defeat it in an election as though it is within its powers to decide the electoral fate of the Nigerian people. More beguiling is the government’s recent corralling of governors, majority of whom are from its fold, to give unilateral vote for the setting aside of $ 1 billion “to fight Boko Haram” which the government claimed had technically been defeated. What method of looting of public funds could be more direct than this for a government which is farting the air over anti-corruption war? Practically, the dimension of stealing of public funds under the watch of this holier-than-thou Buhari administration is quite mindboggling.
If we must avoid repeating our chequered history in a very hard way, our politicians should not contemplate derailing the progress of the country once more. Even the needless civil war that we had to fight in which a colossal amount of material and human resources perished also helped in compounding our crisis. The amoebic splitting of the limited Nigerian territory in the name of state creation has not helped matters. Instead, ethnic and religious tension and intolerance with routine wastage of lives and property have become the order of the day without the presumption of a common destiny for all the nationalities. It is regrettable that unity has now become a rare item on our national agenda, as tendencies that were thought to have been overcome since after the civil war are reappearing with frightful possibilities forty seven years after the war.
Practically, the nation still drifts without a direction. A peaceful transition to a new dispensation in 2019 cannot be an assurance without a truly independent electoral commission. If Nigerians believe that there is an independent electoral commission like in Ghana or in Kenya whereby opposition parties have defeated incumbent governments, people would be confident in the system. It happened here in Nigeria in 2015 but with what is on ground currently in the country, it is hard to believe that 2019 will be a possibility. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is everything but independent since the emergence of the present administration. Elections conducted in Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo, the Ondo governorship election, and the Rivers State National Assembly elections all point to the fact that INEC has been pocketed by the ruling party.
Even though the consolidation of bourgeois domination at the national level since independence is a development of great significance, it has inadvertently created an open ended competition order to foster pluralism in the political process. It is against this backdrop that the level of intolerance currently displayed by our present crop of politicians must be condemned. Since the emergence of the current dispensation, our leaders have had to vehemently resent opposing views and other acts of dissent and have in most cases treated such positions as personal insults. It is a matter of a fundamental misconception for politicians to believe that to move the polity forward is to cow the opposition to unprincipled submission much against the backdrop of a heightened fear that Nigeria is drifting towards a one party state.
There is indeed a sorry lack of a formidable opposition in the political arena thus leaving a great cloud of gloom still hanging over the whole affair. And anyone who is familiar with our recent political experience will certainly understand why such thick level of cynicism continues to undermine the whole process. It is to be emphasized that the second coming of the military on the political scene made nonsense of the conceptual essence of party politics. Political parties, for the first time, became government parastatal agencies, created and spoon-fed, their secretariats built, funded and their manifestoes written, by the military.
The penchant for equating presidentialism with absolutism has made it impossible for our present crop of leaders to network in order to develop quality materials for legislation. The result is a situation that looks as though politics has now been left in the hands of militicians who have no regard for debate and argumentation except an uncanny love for ambush or surprised attack. The needless and barbaric harassment of opposition party leaders by the Federal Government is a case in point.
These unwholesome designs hold an important lesson for our politicians especially the cultured ones: that the military institution with unalloyed obeisance to undemocratic temperament cannot impact democracy, neither is it capable of creating an environment that will foster it. Therefore, new talents and techniques are required if the Nigerian democratic system of government is to function effectively. For now, there is no alternative to democracy. So let those who understand the dynamics of modern politics take over the democratic space for the good of the Nigerian people. This tepid epileptic state of democratic development in which poverty and hunger have dominated the entire country must not remain our permanent condition.