Categories: ColumnsOpinionRalph Egbu

Democracy and nationhood

This period has become a special one for the nation. At this time politics is in the air and that is because every tier of government, whether they performed or not, join the ritual of celebrating Democracy Day now observed on May 29 of every year. There is something I have observed about the way we do our things; we just do things for the simple reason that it has been agreed by the leadership that it should be done but we don’t attach appraisals to our acts. It we could attach sound rationalization to it we would have seen enough reasons to reverse ourselves in so many areas.

Today there is a battle between Democracy Day and Independence Day, which traditionally takes place on October 1 every year. We are now faced with which one to elevate, over and above the other, and every year the choice is becoming difficult. Like we often do we have settled for the less stressful which is to celebrate both events and in the process we put the people and the nation to a big loss. On both days in the same year we declare public holidays, we do this because ours is not a society propelled by rationalization, because if we did, elementary knowledge of what it takes to make a progressive nation would have shown us that it is against the dictates of a sound work ethic to declare public holidays at random and more so very foolish to do so on an event that is similar as in the case of Democracy and Independence days.

If we had a clear vision about the kind of nation we wanted, our approach and policies would be better made. Besides, making choices even as in the case of the above would be without difficulties. Let me explain and this is important: Democracy Day is essentially about democracy which is just about 30 per cent of what is needed to make a nation.

Independence Day has buried inside it the other 70 per cent of very important factors required for proper nation building. For instance, inside it should be found the reason for the country and it is the reasons for a country that propel the processes for building a nation. Independence contains the seed of nationalism and for those who know it is the spirit of nationalism that motivates the force of action. Great scholars have said and I agree that “when the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.”

I want to admit a truth, before Independence and shortly after the purpose of creating Nigeria out of a motley of empires and independent states was clear and that reflected in the various prescriptions made for the proper governance of the space known as Nigeria but it would seem that the dreams and visions grew wings and disappeared with the nasty events that came with the ill-motivated military intervention in 1966. Inside Independence Day also can be found the all-important issue of a national ideology and this is very important for the simple reason that where there is a vision and no ideology, misdirection, stagnation and dislocation are inevitable outcomes. Our nation is on what I call staccato governance, ad hoc processes and solutions and these have led us to where we are today: nasty environment, unproductive yet closed economy and brutish existence all of which have combined to rubbish the sanctity attached to human life and made living a lamentation and a song not worth singing. So if I had my way or if I were the president I would decree we stick with the Independence Day.

If I wanted to be ritualistic, today my topic would have been “Buhari 3 years as president.” It is topical and appropriate, it is about presidency and the most powerful office in the land and it would also be about politics which we all agree drive the other sectors. The most important reason would be that democracy without accountability time would be like a good soup without salt, it would be meaningless. Question and answer time makes our leaders to sit up, it reminds the indolent among the leaders that there would always be days of reckoning. So I love the appraisal time such as we are and I want to trust many of us writers would cease the opportunity to vent their observations and possibly anger given the state of the nation. But I have chosen a different path because of what I know. Appraisal is good and it is a scientific thing and like I said earlier it is a catalyst for proper development, but I have a problem with the way we go about it in our society.

In discharging this all important task we have through carelessness allowed extraneous factors that are detrimental to good process to come in and pollute everything. For instance, religion is positive, indeed other societies have used it to build up their places but in our case we have allowed it to become not just disruptive but have destructive influence. The other is ethnicity. Diversity well packaged is strength but in our case it has become a big hindrance. With ethnicity we destroyed merit and with it efficiency, then there is poor quality education, all of these combine to affect quality assessment exercises.

Let us talk reality; I have already read a few assessment accounts and I found something missing in all of them. There seems to be over emphasis on the President and the Federal Government alone and it is as if we don’t have other tiers of administration. Are the state and local government administrations not expected to carry out quality development programs and if they are supposed, why is attention not paid to what they are doing in equal measure? From what I know some other societies used those layers of power to develop their society but in our case it would seem we have allowed a few individuals and in some cases one family to corner and pillage what should be common patrimony. This should be of serious concern to all. I have discussed the issue of ideology which if we had it would make the task of assessment a professional one. As it is everybody will be talking from his perspective and in the end a consensus would be difficult to achieve and the result would be that leaders who did not perform well would escape to continue their ruination of our society and that is what we call a tragedy of a nation or circle of national stupidity. I just hope we can improve on what we are doing. In the coming weeks I intend to talk in specific terms about the Buhari presidency and the activities of some state governors including my own. Meanwhile, let it be clear to us that when we cry and complain about sufferings in the land that we are co-conspirators to what is happening because it is the leaders we “elected” that are doing the things that are hurting us.
Happy Democracy Day

Rapheal :

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