By the time you read this the controversy surrounding Ambode, the Lagos State Governor, would have been settled one way or the other.

Ralph Egbu

Today’s discourse is about negative political culture. There is negative and positive political culture and each carries with it the seed of their description. The negative retards just as positive grows. our country, mind you I didn’t say nation, just celebrated 58 years of independence few days ago. Our country is very rich in human and natural resources; some say it is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of those two indices and yet it is a near unanimous agreement that within the period of 58 years we have not made substantial progress and the big question is why?

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All of us have tried to answer the question from our own different perspectives. Many say it is a result of ineffective leadership, others say outright that bad leadership is the cause. I don’t know the difference but I can guess that bad could be worse than ineffective even though of the two none is preferable. There is a more critical segment that puts the blame on lack of vision. Both the bible and secular scholars declare that where there is no vision, the people perish. I belong to this school of thought but I have since learnt that there is something else that is superior to vision and without it vision can never take root in any society except this crucial factor is in place. That factor is positive and progressive political culture.

Culture, as sociologists and anthropologists have told us, is the totality of the way a people do things. It encapsulates the way they think, the way they see themselves and the estimation of who they are, their world view, what they expect to contribute and receive from world civilization. If the culture is of low value, it shows in the degree of transformation attainable in the given society. In the modern setting in which we operate, it determines placement in the hierarchy of nations. Of course we all know that the higher the ranking, the better it is for citizens of a given country. Our country is huge in potentials and all along we have been ranked very low. The reason is that we have refused to move out of negative political culture in spite of the obvious harm it has done to our quest for proper development.

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Make no mistake about this, majority of Nigerians are aware that negative political culture and the impact on the pillars of national development. Several times the minority deviant population has tried to push us along that nasty path, majority of the people have had the courage to rise one way or the other to say no. The surprising thing is that despite these resistances, negative political culture has defied the odds and grown in leaps and bounds and this is because a tiny minority who push it are often very powerful, well located and often received the backing of foreign enemies and conspirators. They are in this nasty game because it pays the individual and or the oligarchy in a dimension no amount of hard work can do. I have interacted with leaders at different levels who were not ashamed or saw anything wrong in admitting that crisis, which leads to killings and destruction, is not the evil we think; that it is rather another strategy for achieving an objective or getting things done. I have been schooled to know that governments can burn public markets and habitations just to take over the land and others kill to silence a view or perceived opposition, to scare and to subdue. One friend asked me to find the book “The uses of evil,” I have not given a thought to that because over the years I have come to learn the useful lessons that the world operates on the concept of “dualism”, where you have the original, you must have the fake.

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Superior and inferior principles are always in contestation, oftentimes the first victory goes to the inferior, but that is Pyrrhic victory, and it is transitional. It is often uprooted and supplanted by the superior principle, most times through very complex processes, some of which could be very painful and costly to the society and that is exactly the reason societies who have benefits of history work hard to take the lessons in other to avoid the complex processes that follow the fiercest collision of the two principles mentioned earlier. This is a cardinal reason why all of us should be worried about the seeds of negative political culture we are daily sowing in our country. The spokesperson of the President, Pastor Femi Adesina, former Managing Director of thriving Sun newspaper and a columnist of national repute, gave out the title of today’s discourse while answering questions on a national television about divergences in electoral choices. What he was saying was that the President of a country should dispense government largesse on the basis of electoral behavior. This kind of teaching can’t be right, and coming from such well groomed quarters, it becomes political heresy.

Adesina could say he learnt from his boss once said his attention would go on the ratio of 97%:5% to supporters and oppositions respectively. The President was wrong yesterday as it is today and would be tomorrow on this issue. We have told him he is wrong butitistimewefinda means to prevent him and others that may come after him from toeing this needless path. We are lacking on this latter aspect and this omission is giving vent to the growth of negative political culture. The Ekiti and Osun states gubernatorial elections were definitive mock on our intelligence as humans. We agree things went wrong on a massive scale; surprisingly many justify it on the basis that it has been the norm, even the President did not display any spirit of reservation, he just told the citizens “if you feel any misgivings, go to the court”. On the surface it looks the right thing but when juxtaposed against the prevailing decadent order, the superficiality and mischief of the position becomes very glaring.

By the time you read this the controversy surrounding Ambode, the Lagos State Governor, would have been settled one way or the other. The most important thing about the matter would be that it has thrown up some issues that are wrong with our democracy. One man, with no constitutionally recognized status, can rise from one corner and tell an elected public office holder that “I on behalf of the people decree that you cannot take any of your constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizenship”. I don’t want to go into details that surround such shoddy posturing, if such a posturing is not the height of retrogression, somebody should give me another example and I would gladly learn.

One truth we must know, no society walks on the perfidy without reaping retrogression, dislocation, distrust, tension, destruction of social bonds and ultimately total destruction with no solution. We are on this path and I hope we don’t hit the destination. Indeed it could be very calamitous.

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