LET us not waste anybody’s time with intros. Rather let us go for the jugular: If the question: Is President Muhamadu Buhari, General, Retired, an especially upright person or leader is raised, the answer is and must be no, a capital no. Repeat, no. ‘The fault’ may not be entirely his, but that is the way the world and its jungles are made. That is, one cannot be a player and claim he is not in the game, even if not in the zone. And one cannot swim through to the shore only to claim he is as dry as the eye of a burning fire.
That is why one is troubled, seeing apparently knowledgeable people speak glowingly of Buhari’s uprightness and moral integrity, as if they were things that are not superabundant with the vast majority of Nigerians. That is, if something is superabundant, is common, there is no point pointing it out. For these rather phony types, Buhari’s integrity is an outlier value, is Buhari-specific.
Well, if the purpose of these canvassers is not to fool the populace, then it can be stated that they are cognitively challenged, they are concept, even if not lexical illiterates.
However, to save our democracy and ensure our sanity, the fallacies of these concepts-illiterates must be challenged in the open. Now, our caveats. We speak only of Buhari as a democratic quantity. We are not enthused to remember his pasts as an armed dictator or service agent to dictatorships.
Now, democratic rule is ‘representative rule’. Democracy is the will and power of the people expressed and lodged in the temporary agency of a citizen, that is to represent his principals, the fellow citizens. And the logic of that representativeness, and this is worth underlining, is that the representative represents them, that it looks and is typical of and is like them. Thus the inherent logic of democratic representativeness is in being typical of your class, your clan, community, your country and or of your age.
Thus representative democracies cannot manufacture or produce messiahs and or especially upright or uptight types. This is upon the empirical logic that messiahs, if they ever existed, have existed only as minorities, negligible minorities: thus as unrepresentative quantities and persons.
To repeat, democracies only produce representatives, that is, those who are typical of us. In other words; democracies produce those that if you have seen them, then you have seen us. That is why if you are Igbo, for instance, I am Oru, you will understand why it was treasonable and anti-democratic of the Mbediogu, the tortoise, to claim he is unu dum – I am all of you – and not representative of you. And remember he was thus charged, tried and executed.
This point is vital and crucial. It is really why we sent home the British. They were whites and were not like us and couldn’t represent us, or even like tortoise claim to be us. Yes, we sent the British home. And this is despite our knowing that the Azikiwes, Awolowos and Bellos, were no match for the white man. Our expelling the white man was because we wanted democracy, representative government, however dowdy. We did not want dictatorships even if this was to be by the white man. And Achebe, if you remember, had to confess, both in his fictions and essays, that the white man is very clever. Achebe also informed that the white man ran his possessions, including Nigeria, far better than the Awolowos, the Azikiwes, Bellos and their successors are doing their own country. That much is, of course, a living fact. Ahiazuwa.
That is, while sending the white man home is a disaster in terms of development, however, that we are being ruled or misruled by our own type, by our own representatives, those typical of us, is our gold card, some existential consolation?
So, democracy is in the rule or misrule of your representatives, of your type, of those who are typical of you. Immediately this concept and philosophical plank of democracy are grasped, then it follows that democracy has only one choice. And choice is to elect or generate servants, who may style themselves as leaders. The point, however, is that these servants are and must not be other than ‘representatives’. These servants must not and cannot thus be strangers, savants, nerds, prophets, saints or moral heroes, since they are typical and representatives of us. These ones, the moral heroes, savants, are the outliers. The point is that they are never products of democratic manufacture. To repeat, democracy has no known capacity to generate saints, savants, prophets, moralists, madmen and or specialists, who, as minuscule minorities, cannot be representatives or typical of the society in issue. Simply put, geniuses, prophets, moral puritans, etc. are not electable in normal societies and or in representative democracies. In Europe, these types the savants, the moral puritans, prophets, Mahdi, go on to write the scriptures, not beg for votes. In Nigeria, we must demand no less of them. Let them go and be authors and leave the low and lowly profession of begging for votes alone.
This explains the justice that good men like Gani Fawehinmi and Fela Kuti were not elected and were not really electable. Gani and Fela are prophets. They are not representatives, or typical of us. Thus Gani as a President, and Fela as a Senate President, are comical proposals.
It is now clear that a man cannot be especially moral and be elected or even electable. This is an iron lore of democracy, of representative rule. And this law holds whether or not the man you voted for is Buhari or Jonathan, who, by one account, is an ineffectual buffoon, whatever that means. Thus it follows that in a democracy, one can, statistically using a double blind process, pick any man at Oshodi or Nyanya bus stops as a national leader, and Nigeria is good to go. Of course, that Nigeria, like the present one, will run with the full compliments of budget padding, paddy-paddy government, nepotisms at the CBN, and all that jazz. [For those who play the stock market, this may not come as a surprise. It is the political equivalent of the famous Random Walk Down the Wall Street. In other words, this is, the Random Walk Down the Beltway].
And before we forget, let us recall as follows: When General, retired, Muhammadu Buhari was campaigning for office, he begged for votes, wearing all manner of ethnic clothes. He wore, for instance, Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw and even English ethnic suits. The English suit was to bewitch the money types for whom it is a uniform.
And what was the purpose the old general’s new wardrobe? It was a simple democratic demand and rule, iron rule. He wanted to tell, in fact, was begging to tell whoever could listen and is Nigerian: I am like you, I am typical of you, I am representative of you, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, etc. – please, send me your servant and I will do your bidding and will. So, Buhari’s campaign wardrobe was a concession to the democratic iron law of representativeness, of being typical of the people you are begging their votes. That is the only way to be elected and electable.
So, it will be funny and, in fact, a fraud to latter claim that Buhari is no longer representative and or typical of the vast majority of Nigerians, after being elected. It can happen, but it is a fraud and has nothing to recommend it. So, the logic that he is more moral than the rest of us, when it was sold to us that he is representative of us, cannot bear the fraud of a turnaround – to claim he is an especially moral man.
Apparently, this matter and implication of representativeness was thrown into bold relief when last Ben Bruce, a senator, turned up for his 60th birthday bash – such a young man, congrats. According to Ike Ekweremadu, another senator, while he was leaving his hotel room, a group of Bayelsans confronted him and asked why it is Bruce and troupe are not holding the shindig in Bayelsa, whose representative he claims to be? Ekweremadu blabbed away that he would make sure Bruce repeated the shindig in Bayelsa.
And we laughed, feeling mightily vindicated. Well, there is nothing to gloat it is just that we are worried of the epidemic of ignorance that afflicts this nation, that encourages dictatorships and dictators. The matter is that it is our ignorance, not our leadership deficit that is killing us. We are too often making commonsense when it is only the uncommon sense that shall save us.
Below is a signature quote from Economists as Assassins, The Nigerian Connection: ‘‘And just lately, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, another Lagos-based plutocrat, has joined [him]. Perhaps, he too doesn’t know it is corruption, political and other corruptions, to live in Lagos and be so ‘representative’, typical of Bayelsa, that you represent her.
- Economists as Assassins, the Nigerian Connection by Jimanze Ego-Alowes is available at Patabah bookshops Shoprite, Surulere, Lagos, and other bookshops.