Popular Posts

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

When Democracy Fails.

The world is now a better place. At least, that's what SOMEbody would like us to believe. The arab nations that were previously governed by dictators and terrorists are in the process of being washed clean by the phenomenon called arab 'spring', heralding a new dispensation of hope, humanism and the pursuit of happiness. Libya's erstwhile superhero, savior and suzerain was 'helped' out of power and into the afterlife by "concerned" international powers and disgruntled intranational minions who had forgotten the positive changes which his seizure of power had brought upon the land, perhaps because those positive changes had been so long ago, amnesia was inevitable.
These winds of change have blown so far and wide across the globe that 'uprising' has become the most contagious disease since childhood measles! It is bordering on epidemic proportions. Sudan. Iraq. Afghanistan. (Pause while I google up lesser known countries)

Which brings us to the Population-explosion fuelled "Giant of Africa": ('Gassed', anyone?) Nigeria. Barely 6 months ago, we conducted what had previously been tagged as the 'freest and fairest elections the country had ever seen', save for the "June 12" debacle. We voted en-masse for a president who epitomized the "rags to riches" tale (which we forgot was the basis for the 'american dream', NOT the all-too-familiar 'nigerian nightmare').
He'd had no shoes he said. Forget that some diviners, after due consultation with the spirit of his late father, refuted those claims saying his bare-footedness was not for lack of good shoes but for lack of the good sense to wear them. We chose to believe him. And we (at least, a whole lot of us) voted him in.

Fools, we were. I must say.

Or maybe we weren't. Maybe by some unforseeable miracle, a quantum misappropriation of time, space and intention, we would be right. Our present president will ACTUALLY do our nation some good. But that is unforseeable, like I said. It remains to be seen.
But I've personally always had to use glasses to correct my sight.
Maybe it's just me.

But right now, at this moment in time, I know I'm not alone in the feelings of disappointment, of betrayal of trust, of hopelessness that overwhelms one on consideration of the affairs of this nation. And the question in EVERYBODY's mind is quite singular: "Can we return our president and get a Refund, please?"
(Let's not even talk about the first lady! "Buy one get one free" ended up being "buy one, let one flee"!!!)

I mean, WE got him barely 6 months ago. Don't we get some sort of warranty, a receipt which we can take back to the store? "We voted this thing for president a few months ago and, um, all it has done since then is allocate over 35% of our national budget into its unseen recesses, worsen our feelings of insecurity, increase the foreign debt, the cost of living and of fuel, and do nothing for our general standard of living! It's not working, not doing it's job the way the promotional leaflet said it would. Ummm, can we exchange it for a cheaper model, at least?"

I mean, at present, the situation in Nigeria is so bad that you can't even wish a ATHEIST 'good luck' in his/her endeavors, you don find trouble be that o!
"No! Don't wish me good luck, abeg. 'God's grace' is preferable!"
I mean, I thought you don't BELIEVE in God?! Sorry.
*BBM confused face.*

I have been in complete agreement with the philosophy of the #OccupyNigeria movement. And I cheered eagerly from the sidelines as I found millions of nigerians pouring out of their homes to protest the callous treatment of our citizenry by our government.
I was suitably unhappy to find out that the police, who are unable to fight for their rights due to the nature of their vows-slash-oaths of, er office, were busy killing the people who were fighting for privileges that they, the police, would also benefit from.
I was also sadly disappointed by the 'cop-out' by our labour leaders, who for some reason, decided to stop the fight for the common man. And looking back on the events of the past week, I wonder, "IS THIS THE DEMOCRACY?"
**BBM confused face*

Is this the so-called 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' (I'm not sure if it's in that particular order) that we have been fighting for? Is this what the international community claims to be, not just a stimulant, but a prerequisite for development and economic growth? Is this how it works? Despite the fact that 99% of the country's working and non-working population disagreed with a policy, our 'democracy' forced it upon us?
That is what people like MKO Abiola were martyred for?
Something MUST be wrong.

I decided to find out what it is. I took out time to compare ours with the models that were the basis of our so-called democracy. And I observed some differences which make our democracy to be nothing more than an illusion (for us) and lip service to the international powers that be. A few of the things I noticed were these:

1."Mid-term elections" (and the lack thereof): This, I noticed, was the singular most important difference between our democracy and that of the first world. In the middle of each presidential (or prime ministerial, lol) term, the people get to reward (or punish) their leader for his (or her) actions thus far, by voting for or against members of his/her party during their mid term elections which select who the legislators will be. As a result of that, the head of government is already under pressure FROM WITHIN HIS PARTY (wow!) to carry out policies that will please the populace. Else, the party will lose their majority in the senate or house or parliament or what have you. This is a vital recipe for the international standard of democracy. And we are completely lacking in this. In our own uniquely naijacentric brand of democracy, we elect a king, his court and his cohorts who will lord it over us for the full term, giving ourselves absolutely no say in the government's affairs for the full run of the term.
What can we do? If a single party owns the presidency, senate and house of reps, there is no voice of dissent or reason to help stir the country away from disaster, they all move together to trample upon us all for 4 complete years. I mean, a president would be more careful in a house or senate where other parties have a say because there is always the off-chance that they will get together to impeach him.

2. Representative Gap: in better economies, Aldermen or councillors or senators have offices in their home zones, close to the people they represent. Their people have access to them, infact, their people must have had multiple opportunities to interact with them PERSONALLY before they even get voted into office. These are not imports from a central party processing zone, being given a senatorship or house of rep-ship as appeasement or 'settlement', they are outstanding (and locally known) exceptional members of the community that they will go on to represent. As a result, any decision that they make in the house ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE THEY REPRESENT would better BE on the people's behalf. Because they'll have a lot of explaining to do DIRECTLY to the people they represent. Not so down here. Our legislators are exalted members of the King's court forced upon us by their political godfathers playing (and preying) upon our collective helplessness and gullibility. They are unreachable, untouchable, unavailable, unassailable. They don't answer to us. They answer to no one, not even God!

3. Campaign Funding. The love of money is the root of all evil, the Bible says. Rarely does it happen that a human being brings out crippling, mind numbing sums of funds to contribute for another person's benefit if he himself has not, or will not gain in the short, medium or long term. In crime thrillers they say "follow the money (trail) and you'll find the murderer" and it is a simple fact. Money wahala dey even cause divorce! (Flesh of my flesh, kee? Where MY MONEY?) The source of election campaign funds should be transparent, publicly declared, and same funds should have a ceiling, a maximum amount that individuals or corporations can donate to any given electoral candidate. Because any amount more than what common sense dictates will point to ulterior motives. And it is a fact: If two rival companies donate the exact same amount to a candidate's campaign, they have an equal influence over the government, canceling each other out. But leaving election donations uncontrolled would allow richer corporations and individuals to 'put the government in their pocket', giving themselves unfair advantages and only pushing policies/legislation which they alone will gain from, to the detriment of the poorer 'masses'.

I'm not really into politics. I hate the lies, the mud, the grime, and the slinging thereof. I hate the constant recycling of family names in the same elevated positions. And I usually have too short an attention span to keep up with it all. But a point arises in the life and times of an individual and a nation when we have to become more accountable, more responsible for our environment and what happens in it.

And without these seemingly trivial changes, all we can do is put our collective destinies in the hands of a 4 (or 8) year dictator who, along with his goons, will plunder our foreign reserves, increase our debts, and place crippling burdens upon us all, all the while bumbling with ineptitude in the simplest, most basic, routine chores of an elected official. And then we'll have to hope that our labour leaders have the spirit to take on the tyrants who we imposed on ourselves.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who left their houses and congregated at each meeting point to protest this evil, risking life, limb and luxury. I hail you. May your days be long and may God bless us all.

Unfortunately, when democracy fails, we can't do anything about it. We can't return it to the americans and britons and ancient greeks and say "No, thanks. It wasn't working for us". We can't hope for a hard Jerry Rawlings to come and cleanse us of our greed, inertia and nepotism because history is typically unkind to revolutionaries no matter what they achieve for the 'common man' (think Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte. Fidel Castro, Muammar Ghaddafi). All we can do is what we have done already: Let our grievances be heard, try to make a change by working within the system and MOST OF ALL, pray. (Think Abacha, lol)
*BBM angel face*

Its your boy,
Fly fellow, y'all!

1 comment: