Let My People Go

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

“If there is a State, then there is domination, and in turn, there is slavery.”

Mikhail Bakunin

The world is an amalgam of various constituent parts continually in a state of quasi-dynamism cum pseudo-equilibrium i.e. the more everything change; the more they remain the same. If there is anything that has remained in the world since the beginning, it will be the penchant of some parts or group of those constituent parts to dominate another. Domination does manifest in several forms: the husband dominating the wife in the family or vice versa, the parents dominating the children, government dominating her citizens, the boss dominating his/her employees, a sector dominating an economy, the best of breed company dominating an industry and even one country or sphere of regional powers dominating another. Whether domination is matter of perception or reality is a matter better left to the philosophers.

Indeed, sociologists have suggested that the main need/reason for domination is the maintenance of order and hierarchy of responsibility in an advanced society. In the absence of dominant species they say, chaos is the order of the day and the breed withers in quality or becomes extinct all together. A common observation however is that, while certain forms of dominance imposes some limited form of responsibility on the dominator, others are simply sheer dominance for the sake of it – it this brand of domination that I speak about today: a destructive domination. Unfettered domination runs counter to the existential natural order of things. If we believe the story of the Garden of Eden or other fabulous story of creationism, man was born to be free and to be free indeed. Freedom no matter how limited has prompted from the beginning of time prosperity and a burst of creativity. When freedom (the antithesis of domination) is allowed to flourish, then creativity flourishes. This freedom translates to political democracy, free trade, human rights all familiar concepts to the modern man but in short supply albeit. From the creation of Athenian democracy, to the American Revolution to the industrial revolution and even the coming of the TV, Jet and digital age, civil rights movement, independence of African states, end of the World Wars – freedom was intricately tied to the ambivalence of the spirit of man to the barriers opposing creativity, entrepreneurship and autonomy.

In the world we live in today however, freedom is duly employed to advance the causes of the dominator. How can? Yes, you get certain limited form of cosmetic freedom e.g. free trade in return for momentous burst of prosperity, massive military recruitment of Niger Deltans in return for admission into an elite group of colonizers etc. What was definitely not said as part of the deal was who was going to benefit most from the freedom pact. Indeed, with domination and freedom moving in interlocking steps what is delivered to the world is a Greek gift of circumstantial relief. This case can be made in the story of Nigeria. Offered Independence in 1960 from the colonial masters, what simply happened was the transfer of power from a foreign fiefdom to a familiar oligarchy. The gradual hemorrhaging of the Nigerian state by this Oligarchy has been elevated to work of science since the four decades and a half that have passed since. In fact, the rise and dominance of Statism is a concept that the Nigerian mind regards as the norm rather than the exception. Like other –sms i.e. capitalism, socialism, communism, feudalism etc.; Statism does not exist as an alternative to another in this sphere- it dominates and walks tall amongst its adherents.

The Nigerian blames the state for everything good and everything gone wrong. A lazy student with ridiculously low grades finds comfort in the superiority of the state examination board and its attendant inefficiency instead of tackling his/her own problems of academic malady. A lousy parent blames the state for creating the rights conditions for unemployment that drove a wayward son or daughter to armed robbery or prostitution respectively.Indeed, the Nigerian in you sees government all around him. In Nigeria, government has a hand in everything. From politics, to food, to employment to where you choose to gather to whom you choose to speak to- everything is government! Which brings me to ask- do we really need government?

The Nigerian government is by no means a term used for a dynamic set or stream of people. Since the early life of the nation it has been cornered by specific group for people- very familiar last names. Obasanjo, Babangida, Atiku, Buhari, Bello, Yaradua, Ibru, Dantata-Dangote, Balogun, Abiola, Nzeribe, Igbinnedion, Anenih, Odumegwuetc. These pseudo political dynasties which are actually business enterprises have also been far involving in incestuous inter-relationships brooding new bred hybrids in their image; leaders of tomorrow, schooled in the art of Statism. Giving their sons and daughters in holy matrimony is a natural past time for Nigeria’s familiar oligarchy. Not that it is a cohesive group of people by any chance- they also have their infightings. Usually not over anything important, but who gets the biggest share of loot. Sometimes I wonder why they can’t just be satisfied with accessing the loot as it is. These fighting usually present a show of power from Statists. The ultimate show of Nigerian Statism is how quick the state rush to solve every problem in our federation as if they have really got the Midas touch.

Talking of Midas touch, everything the Nigerian state has touched is an enigma of inefficiency, corruption and top to bottom utter waste of national resources. Economically speaking, the infrastructure of electricity, energy and water resources ceded to the state from the beginning of time is in utter shambles. Transportation on air, road or rail is nothing to write home about thanks to the state. Even industries built and ran by the state for the benefit of its members i.e. the Oligarchy is comatose; yet, the state still rushes to the rescue. What is the decisive show of state power but the manner in which politics is run and people gather? Now in our Statist Nigeria, to gather in public we need the permission of the state. To invite your friend to chop Banga Soup, Fried Fish and a bowl of pounded yam you will be better of to inform the state because a member of the public is going to be gathering very soon. I didn’t say so; the state through one of its organs i.e. Appeal Court sitting in no man’s land and mandated by the Nigerian Police sorry, Nigerian Police Force said so. The State is a monster in Nigeria – a monster that needs to be emasculated.

The monster called state in Nigeria controls and dominates every outlet of business. Employing more mammal than anyone in the national economy it sets prices of every commodity in person or by proxy. Yes, the state determined the real value of your take home pay and remove pockets taxes to upward of 50% from those who dare to register with the state i.e. the deprived citizens. The state of Nigeria even makes life difficult for the businessman. The state requires you to pay “commission” and on top of that declare handsome profit from which you must settle the state and its army of Statist disciples. When you want to register your business, you need to do so with the “state”. The state is big, burly and powerful. It is all knowing, all assuming and no nonsense. The state can cut off your money supply by shutting down banks a la consolidation. That is the all knowing state for you Mr. and Mrs. Nigerian. Rulers of the state don’t hear from no one- they talk and cannot be talked to, they don’t listen and have to be listened to. They will rather speak with foreign press than talk to our minion press man that is commonly equated with hunger or rabies. With siren blabbing and whip flying they plough through our streets and fleece us of our mentality; we a

ll have Statist minds.

It was only a case of rabid amnesia or convoluted Statism acquired by brainwash that will cause Nigerians to jump to high heaven when the state bared her fangs again in Nigeria couple of days ago. Yes, they called it Coastal Development Plan. Some Statist plan to under develop the Niger Delta- do we need the state? The state itself is a metaphor- it is a metaphor for the owners of Nigeria. Funny, that these owners are even tired of ruling Nigeria by proxy. They are no more doing this by negotiating in marble stone palaces and oak crest board room tables. They are bringing this all out to the open. The state acting in the name of the people is selling state property to Statists. Yes, nothing really has changed. The only superficial change is that the state is transferring the asset formerly nominally in your name to its members i.e. the Statists or now called Captains of Industry in our country. These members are not just satisfied owning, using and monopolizing the organs and means of government; they want to own you. The state is determined to keep it so, and doing so means the state has to be maintained in its present state. That is, may be for another four years and then another and then another…with no end in sight. That is the state of the state.

Last Line:

Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master –George Washington

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1 comment

Yomi Dawotola May 3, 2006 - 7:36 am

You have touched major a nerve in me with this article. To me, this is your best work so far. My question is, how do we rid Nigeria of these inadequates at the helms? I am already thinking of what to do.


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