Democracy in a distressed society: Of Conflicts & Contradictions

 Democracy in a distressed society: Of Conflicts & Contradictions

By Ernen Kaanti

I feel a deeply serious call to lament to the full earshot of Nigeria and maybe the entire world on the condition of things in the present Nigeria; a country undeservedly and abysmally saturated in social, political, economic, religious and constitutional conflicts and contradictions.

Dear reader, be ready for a scary fact. To some people, it is even a piece of heresy. However, it feels more relieving to say that being Nigerians by many today is becoming an uncomfortable experience like Martin Luther King Jr once described the pathetic experience of the Negros in America some years ago.

King described the Negros’ experience in America as tantamount to being a part of the bruised, the shattered, the scarred, and the defeated. But God forbid it in Nigeria. We hope.

Like the Negro, the experience of Nigerians today is like trying to smile when you want to cry; it is like trying to hold unto physical life when you are psychologically dead. The experience of being Nigerians is becoming like having your legs cut off, and then being stigmatised even to condemnation for being a crippled. Turn around and see. Is it not like having seeing our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters murdered by the slings and arrows of daily deprivations and exploitations and then being hated for being orphans?

Can you hear what I can hear? Just listen carefully as they speak. Can’t you hear as people talk fluently against bribery and corruption and encourage socio-political injustice in the same breath?

I mean, everybody is talking of democracy but it is impossible to create a formula for democracy if we do not take into account that our society has been doing things that are special against democracy. Democracy cannot survive where there is no rule of law. If we allow disrespect for the constitution to tarry too long among us we are then smoking out democracy. This is the judgement.

If we truly believe in democracy then, in asking for free and fair elections, rule of law and unconditional respect for the constitution, Nigerians are not asking for charity but rather what is due. These are descent values that must be preserved for peace of mind and love.

However, there is a seeming gap in our society concerning these values and I personally have difficulty trying to place the blame where it should be placed. But I think the government should take the blame. We are the government as followers just as we are the government as representatives. While the former is supposed to have more power, the latter is supposed to have lesser power. Unfortunately, the socio-political acrobatics in our clime Nigeria has complicated the whole reality thereby allowing social injustice and impunity to establish footholds leaving no door through which one could enter and effect correction. The tiny space through one can enter, there is no room at the top. This has been complicating the destiny of the geographical location called Nigeria and the people with it till today.

Some people may ask “How?”. I deliberately did not want to agitate the psyche of the readers with litany of socio-political, economic, religious and constitutional conflicts and contradictions that have found expressions in many ways that made me so uncomfortable to the point I felt I should come out here to lament in this art form. 

I bothered not to compile such a list of manifestations because if anybody says he/she has not realised that the trouble with Nigeria is dramatically changing from an alarming level to a fata stage, then that person is either not in Nigeria or does not care about the country and so must not know her problems.

Besides that, it is only those who have not received the deadly stings of the scarce naira currency notes which have incapacitated business, health care and even led to death of persons that will ask how. The time we feel the pains that ensues after spending several ours on the sun to cast our vote only to have every conviction that our vote does not count as we expected we will see no point asking how. We cannot ask how when we come to realize that after spending billions of naira in building devices for our elections, we still had foreseeable challenges in collating election results. When we see hate-filled security personnel ever in support of the government against the masses, when we have the highest court ordered in its prudence that our fathers, uncles, brothers or sisters be released from inhabitable prisons.

It is only those who have not been affected by the hurricane of assault and battery on our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who were justifiably chanting coordinated choruses of despair as they tramped from carves of abandonment to the bright hills of fairness and sense of belonging just to have bullets pumped into their bellies and skulls that will ask how. 

We will not ask how when we realize that our children are still receiving paper education; an education whose curriculum is a collection of tales of foreign hunting adventures of foreigners to be told to our children in foreign languages acted foreign stages in foreign costumes, preserved and be transmitted to our unborn children just because we are being denied of the skill-education that is the requisite towards unlocking our potentials in the human society that is not only heralding but has already started shifting from carbon monoxide emission to a society of zero carbon monoxide.

Do we have the capacity to move if not the privilege of having the brains and resources that other nations buy or hire from us when they decide to move? We have the brains and the resources but envy, selfishness, apathy, greed and downright ignorance are our major adversaries.

In this piece of lamentation, I am not trying to petition the myriad of court decisions in Nigeria that appeared to have failed to take effect neither am I trying to create any form of incitement against any group or individual. No, not at all. What I am trying to do here in the spirit of patriotism is to rather prick our conscience as nobble people and probe our minds and interrogate the future of our country Nigeria with particular attention to the status of democracy in the country today. We need to ponder on our position in the community of human race in the next few years from where we are now if we continue doing the unhealthy things that we are doing today. This is my worry.

This is the time for all people of conscience to call Nigeria to return to true home of brotherhood and pursuits for mutual interests. We must not remain quiet during this travail. As far as democracy is concerned, Nigeria our dear country is making a very poor example not only in the history of African nations but the world at large. Our elders say that if a man goes to bed with an itching anus he will surely wake up with smelly fingers; my worry about the Nigeria of tomorrow has positioned me as a curious student of philosophy studying the behaviour of the country and I have so far, learnt that the apt time to steer Nigeria to the right path is now.

In order climes we hear elected leaders resign on accounts of incompetence or poor support from the masses owing to certain circumstances. The cases of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss all of Britain are too close to call.

Even in Africa our home continent, we heard cases of Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who resigned from offices due to public pressure. There many other examples out there. It is unfortunate that things like these are of extramundane in Nigeria where the public/masses glide into lame ducks as soon as the leaders are “elected” to power. You see people holding unto power, developing unhealthy tactics that help them wriggle from one position to another against public cries of incompetence among others. We celebrate mediocrity and throw lavish parties in that regard. 

Our elders say you can only take a horse to the stream but cannot force it to drink water. But I think if the horse is thirsty big deal and still refuses to drink water then it is apparent that the horse is determined to die for a particular conviction within its own heart. God in his infinite wisdom gave us Nigeria and it belongs to us and if we Nigerians see our beloved country approaching its spiritual death and play spectator then we must be prepared for the anathema that will not spare us not even our children. Until we balance the socio-political, legislative, executive and judiciary diet, Nigeria will die of kwashiorkor.

I have lamented to this point with no clear cut address on a particular issue but the good news is that, we are Nigerians and we know our offices and what is required of us. And before we agree to go and start the process of spiritual and attitudinal renaissance wherever we belong, we must ponder on these questions:

What has really happened to the spirit of brotherhood that gave our fathers Nigeria? What legacy are we leaving for the younger ones since they are heirs apparent? Are we really thinking of the anathema that will come after us and even after our own children as a result of our failure as caretakers in the leadership positions? Why do we ignore both the fearless voices of the courageous dissenters of evil; voices that are sounding almost as loud as the blasts of bombs and clamours of wars in every village and hamlet in the country? 

This is a lamentation and call for urgency. For time they say is deaf to every plea and it rushes on. Over the blood of our soul brothers and sisters let in the streets in times of their justified quest for freedom and fairness, in there innocent homes on account of political and religious calculations; over the bones of our loved ones in shallow graves and the bushes, heed this call. There is an invisible book of history that faithfully records the times of our actions and negligence. To every Nigerian heart, this is not time for apathy but action. It is time to choose between chaos and the rule of law that guarantees mutual love and peace.

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