Walk in a dark tunnel

The truth is that we have kept walking in a dark tunnel. The funniest thing about this is that you see sparkles of light far away but surprisingly we have refused to walk in that direction.

Ralph Egbu

We Nigerians like to walk in the opposite direction. Professor Wole Soyinka must have seen something about us when he too said that we walk in what he described as “circle of national stupidity.” Societies make progress and we are not making and most of the times there is this picture that we are looking up to others that have made it with the objective to emulate whatever they did that took them up; but a careful study would show that we imitate from the reverse. If we stopped at that point it would have been good but we don’t, rather we move from bad to worse and from there into the fatalistic level in both utterances and actions. It is a daily affair; it is partisanship of tribe, religion or of the political kind, all the way. There is no middle course, no one spares a thought for what is good; everything must be viewed and seen from the perspective of how events are likely to shape one’s selfish desire either as an individual or a group.

I don’t subscribe to this method and mentality and if what I learnt from history of developed societies is anything to go by then history itself does not support such an awkward behaviour. It is true things were bad at some point in the development of some of the advanced nations but there is something they did which we are not doing. The societies and their governments encourage their citizens to voice out and to speak the truth about their situation and it is possible that it was the experience gathered in an atmosphere of free speech that made Plato to realize that no one is more hated than the one who speaks the truth. We have developed a penchant to take everything foreign, even our presidential system of government and economic model are all designed after what we borrowed from outside.

But there is a twist in how we go about it, we take the negatives and leave the positives. Those societies had their problems and if you do a study you will discover they did not play the blame game. The people, their governments and the institutions reacted appropriately. There were revulsions and condemnations and the laws were applied strictly not minding who or which organizations were culprits. The people saw arrests, trials and convictions. The parliament didn’t waste time to come up with new laws if what they had were not sufficient enough to deal with new perspectives to growing challenges. I have heard some say that we have to pass through stages of development but does that include wallowing in negativity and overtime making it to look as the norm. If this were to be so, of what use is history and its lessons? The truth is that we have kept walking in a dark tunnel. The funniest thing about this is that you see sparkles of light far away but surprisingly we have refused to walk in that direction. This is painful.

I would take recent examples to prove that we are walking away from light. I hear everybody say our country subscribes to democracy; in fact we fall over ourselves to proclaim our love for democracy and its principles, but in practical display we talk and act in ways such that primitive people if they were alive would laugh us to scorn. We subscribe to multi-party system but the party leader is not the chairman and his working committee but the president or governor at the federal and state level. We also know that direct primaries would leave power in the hands of the people and improve the leadership recruitment process; we know all these and still hold tight to delegate system which is amenable to extraneous influences. In the law on defection, our rule says anybody can join any party he or she likes. Nothing is wrong with this, but we choose to walk in the dark tunnel when the same rule says if you hold office given to you on a particular platform, you can abscond with the mandate to a strange platform so long it is established that your party is enmeshed in crisis.

Even a kindergarten child knows that this is a prescription for crisis, distraction, diversion and instability and we see a lot of it today. It has led to our misinterpreting everything and swimming in wrong actions. We destroy party supremacy and today the governors and president can do anything including killings and get away with it. We misconstrue the concept of raising worthy successors, instead of training a lot of people in the art of statecraft and when elections come, they run their ambitions and allow the people’s sovereignty to speak, president and governors choose for the people and in many instances it has become a case of selecting cronies, in-laws, co-conspirators and charlatans to succeed their benefactors. Each hand picks someone that would be worse than him in composure and performance.

The Ekiti election which took place penultimate Saturday inspired this piece and I decided to talk about it briefly because of an attitude of mass conspiracy that is gradually enveloping the country. Everything like I observed earlier has become about partisanship and interest and that is beginning to shape outburst. National interest is being consigned to the dustbin. I have heard lawyers who said that the election was free, fair and credible because to them it substantially met the criteria of all these requirements; I like the response of a law lecturer from Baze University who said it is time lawyers seek from the courts what substantial compliance would mean in terms of appropriate conduct of an election. Free connotes that every contending party has freedom to scout for support, of course, within the law. In the case of Ekiti the security agencies disrupted political rallies using maximum force, victims included the highest command of the party, in this case the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The campaign office of their candidate was sealed up including the government house which is the abode of the governor who also is a top leader of the party, not forgetting several arrests that were executed few days to the election.

This is a clear intimidation and it is anchored on the invisible but potent strategy of strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. The message was clear if the governor, his deputy and other chieftains could be dealt with, who then is the ordinary supporter? The courts have said we don’t require a permit to hold a rally or even peaceful procession, the responsibility of the security agencies should be to provide protection. I have read laws of other nations on this and they agree. Some say it is ridiculous for state security agencies to base their actions on possible breakdown of law and order when the law confers on them the status of the highest legal force in the land. That harassment is enough to tilt a victim. I have also heard that there was buying of votes on a massive scale by the two main parties. That they were all involved does not make it right. Some for the hate of Fayose say everything is right. This is not right. Those who want change must subscribe to acceptable standard.