If there is one thing many Nigerians are good at, it is the unsavoury art of engaging in blame-game and ruining our democracy by our support for politicians we know too well are going to make things worse for all.
The sad reality is that most of the ills afflicting our nation are self-made, and they cut across all sectors of our national life. But nothing compares with the deep damage caused by our autocratic governors in most states of the Nigerian federation.
Many governors are on record, for example, to be casting all blame for our unprecedented poverty index on the federal government, until President Buhari, penultimate week, exposed them by stating unambiguously that most of them are experts in cornering for themselves, the statutory allocation meant for local government areas in the states they govern.
This column has on countless occasions drawn attention to the fact that Nigeria can never be the eldorado we think of, or even enjoy the peace we desperately want, in as much as governors are allowed to continue killing the third tier of government, the local government system which, inspite its flaws, gives the biggest opportunity for the son or daughter of nobody to become somebody.
Today, we run a system that induces hopelessness in that there is hardly a state in Nigeria today where the local government system is thriving, in true sense of the word.
We claim we are practicing democracy, but apart from casual complaints, we all carry on as if nothing has happened each time a state governor insults our collective intelligence by getting a stooge called state electoral commission chairman to announce that only the political party of the incumbent state governor has won all the chairmanship and even councillorship seats.
The governors do not stop at that. They then corner almost the entirety of the allocation meant for the local governments, oftentimes under the instrumentality of a dubious scheme called joint account.
Imagine what will happen if the federal government were to refuse state governments their share of the monthly statutory allocation from the Federation Account.
In reality, the way our state governors of today govern our states is in many respects worse than the way the military governors of yesteryears did.
Nigerian governors are the most powerful in the whole world. They are lords unto themselves. Nobody checks them, and that includes the state legislature that in some cases, are ridiculously controlled by the wife of the governor.
Many governors in Nigeria also starve the judiciary of funds, just to be able to control them and subvert justice. It is the reason why once you are close to the government in power, you can do whatever you want without consequences, and someone who steals a tubber of yam will go to jail because he does not have any connection to his state governor.
In America, which is the biggest example of democracy on the globe, many residents of a state don’t even know the name of the state governor, because he wields some power severely limited by the constitution, the infringement of which is impeachment. And of course because unlike here, people look for power to impact positively on the people.
To be sure, one is not insulating the federal government, especially the current one, in which most appointees do as they want, knowing there will be no consequences.
All over the social media, for example, a video clip has gone viral, in which a serving minister from a state in the northwest is telling the electorates, at a public function, that they were going to win the forthcoming election because they have earmarked tons of money to bribe the people and buy their conscience. He does so shamelessly and openly knowing he is at the moment above the law.
The state chairman of the APC in another state, also in the northwest, told thousands of party faithful that the political party is going to win the 2023 elections even if every rule of engagement was going to be breached by them, promising fire and brimstone to ensure a victory for the APC. So far, unless it was done in secret, and there is no need to do so in secret, the man has not been reprimanded by any security agency or the state governor.
This party chairman has every reason to feel he is above the law and will be emboldened to unleash untold violence even if it means killing members of the opposition, as another politician from the northeast also openly threatened to do.
Another video of a very senior principal officer of the House of Reps has also gone viral, in which he is openly threatening his constituents to either vote for his political party or be severely dealt with.
And yet, every election year, we engage in a funny ritual called signing of Peace Accord. But everyday, even on television, the toxic messages spewing from the mouths of spokespersons of our various political parties are terribly frightening, to say the least.
There are currently in office, at least three governors who were not elected by the people. They rigged themselves into office and obviously bribed their way to ensure technicalities were deployed by the courts to dismiss petitions from the rightful winners.
While by no means promoting military rule over democratic governance, the fact is military governors come to office through an appointment, but these ones come to office by the force of brigandage.
The beauty of democracy is the opportunity it presents for plurality of choice. And of course its ability to reform itself. It remains to be seen whether the current leadership of our national electoral commission that goes by the nomenclature of independence would ensure a free and fair election in 2023.
As American President Barrack Obama has told us in his sermon to Nigerians eight years ago, election cannot be credible if it is not free and fair.
A situation where state governors muzzle the opposition and dictate impossible conditions for the opposition to campaign can never lead to a credible or fair election. In many states today, opposition members are in jail because the governors feel threatened about them.
These governors are too desperate to either win a second term of office or impose a lackey as their successor. They know more than anyone else about the sleaze they engage in, and want all of it covered by forcing on the hapless electorates, a stooge who will continue to give them a princely share of the statutory allocation and internally generated funds accruing to the state.
Then, of course the electorates. There is hardly a time in Nigeria’s history in which tribal and religious sentiments have become the most predominant yardsticks for support for various presidential candidates than now.
An overwhelming majority of Igbos don’t want to be told of any ills of Peter Obi because he is their own. And very many Christians also support the man because they believe a Christian should take over after eight years of a Muslim as President.
Most Yorubas also don’t want to hear that what Tinubu did in London, at the famous Chatham House, is terribly wrong, delegating members of his delegation to answer questions on his behalf. They also always have an answer when a member of another party, or a dispassionate Nigerian questions Tinubu’s state of health or source of his stupendous wealth, said to be in trillions.
In a similar vein, many northerners support Atiku because he is one of them. It doesn’t matter to them, the fact that his former boss, President Obasanjo, has made very disparaging remarks on the man about his integrity, and the fact that there are still around Atiku, unaswered questions to do with his chairmanship of the National Economic Council when he held sway as the nation’s vice president.
Most of our problems are self-inflicted. A village or town is incessantly attacked by terrorirsts for example. But the villagers know very well that right in their midst, are their neighbours who are serving as informants to bandits, notifying them of troop movements, and getting, in many cases, our soldiers killed by these enemies of the people that the same people inadvertently support by refusing to do the right thing.
I saw on the net a well-written piece that summarises our attitude that has made development a very scarce commodity in our lart of the word: it goes thus.
The African in the morning, wakes up, turns off his alarm clock made in CHINA, comes out of his bed sheets woven in INDIA, puts on his clothes made in BANGLADESH; shoes from ITALY, drinks his orange juice from SPAIN, puts milk made in FRANCE in his coffee produced in BRAZIL.
He jumps in his car made in JAPAN or in Germany to go to the TOTAL service station (FRANCE), he fills up and takes his KOREAN Samsung phone made in TAIWAN or iPhone (USA) and pays with MOBILE MONEY (Owned by foreign stakeholders).
At noon, he leaves his office, dressed in a nice 3-piece suit in the heat, in a Western dress code.
He joins his friend in an upscale restaurant serving Western specialties then smokes an AMERICAN cigarette or CUBAN cigar while sipping an Irish aperitif or Chilean wine. They eat CAMBODIAN or Taiwanese rice, drink a Cognac from France and come home to watch the Barça vs Réal Madrid on A Samsung TV made in Korea *without having spent a cent which will remain in Africa.*
Then they debate to know why there is neither work nor money in the country and on our continent.*
*And with that, they conclude that their problems are other people’s make….”*
(To be concluded)