Nigeria: From zombie military to zombie democracy

by Odilim Enwegbara

Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of [government] too plainly proves a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery.” — Thomas Jefferson, author of the American constitution

The political and economic ruins the military left behind when handing over to civilians still have their ripple effects on the country even more than a decade after the soldiers left the scene. The poor state of our democratic culture is demonstrating that. In other words, the broken economic and social situation caused by decades-long policy somersaults are very much around let alone repaired and moved forward.

But what seems to be dragging our democratic journey truly backward is the fact that military men are still very much in charge of the same political and economic dispensations assumed to have been handed to civilians. What this means is that even though they returned the country to a democratic rule, it is mostly the same military generals who retired, removed their uniforms, and then put on civilian dresses as politicians. So, to say they left the political scene is only in recognition that they removed their military uniforms and replaced them with civilian dresses. That is that. Little wonder military culture still dominates our political landscape even 13 year after.

But in their sheer smartness as trained tacticians and strategists, top military-politicians are very much ahead in this game of politics. They carefully brought in the same civilians who were running political errands for them during those decades they were running the country’s affairs to join them but as junior partners. What this only did was to simply add some civilian coloration to the military-democracy in practice. It is this civilian coloration that has continued to blind the unsuspecting eyes from seeing that beneath the colorful political dresses hidden die-hard military culture.

There is nowhere this is fully displayed than in the political parties themselves. Little wonder, to see the authoritarian state of our political parties is to see parties controlled by retired generals. To see the nation’s political parties so crowd by political moneybags is to see retired deep-pocket generals. To see unprincipled men and women manning our political parties is to see unpatriotic Nigerians being used by western oil imperialists. And to see ever combative democrats is to see political parties populated by men and women who see politics as a zero-sum game; of a do or die affair given what is at stake. Having been schooled in a dog-eat-dog culture and a grab-power-at-all-costs Machiavellian-Darwinian survivalist mindset, it is obvious that what is happening to our democracy shouldn’t have been much different.

It is nations that are governed by a combination of timocrats (militaristically virtuous rulers) and corrupt oligarchs (moneybag civilians) that Plato, Socrates, and Popper called ”contentious political speculators” who in their political psychosis ”lack even the slightest restraint to greed, filth, indecency, injustice, deceit, and above all, brazenness;” and who, by introducing ethno-religious ”partisanships into the Republic” their ruinous political exigencies end up decapitating the society.

With all these, it is reasonable why ours should be the most expensive democracy in the world. But why shouldn’t politics in Nigeria be so expensive if it offers the highest return on investment (ROI) to those who invested in it? Why shouldn’t the highest bidder and the winner-takes-it-all politics be the cash-and-carry democracy? Isn’t it normal for someone who invested hugely in something to go after recovering one’s investment, including with high profits? Given this kind of survival of the fittest, why shouldn’t the political parties go about filing moneybags instead of honest and patriotic men and women? Isn’t the only way to give moneybags upper hand is to continuous block all steps toward internal democracy?

In the meantime, good and patriotic Nigerians have been carefully kept out of the nation’s corridors of power. One, not only that they do not have the kind of kind of deep-pocket the moneybag have at their disposal, but also even when they do, they are rebuffed by the appalling cash-and-carry electoral politics. Two, given the fear of the nation’s foreign exploiters that should they be allowed their presence could disrupt the imperial machine carefully set in motion. And as a result imperial system is quick to frustrate them out of the corridors of power, including unleashing media war against them.

The very fact that western oil majors have no difficulty controlling the country’s vast oil resource seems obvious enough that democracy has not tampered with their maximum control of this resource. Rather than democracy hampering western oil interests in Nigeria, it has, in fact, blossomed these interests more than they did under military dictatorships. Why our politicians are not asking how come a country so endowed with the world’s best oil (light and sweet) after more than five decades of exporting billions of barrels of oil ended up with as the world’s capital of both corruption and youth unemployment alongside mind-blowing social despoilment? And why is that after all these decades, we cannot boast of competence in either exploration or exploitation of our oil? In other words, why should it be the same western companies that control the mining of our oil in 1958 that today still control them? Not asking these questions tells the truth, that their patriotic hearts have since been iced up by the west so much so that they are made to understand that being in power is to about partaking in the looting of their country even if it is a mere morsel that is handed to them at the end of the day.

Joseph Nye and Henry Kissinger know why it has been so and why our leaders will remain deafened and blinded to massive plundering of what too nature millions of years to gather for us. To understand why our democracy has turned out as an economic and political curse, one should just read what Joseph Nye’s thesis has to say about our practice of an expensive mannequin we call democracy. That was exactly what his famous book, ”The Soft Power,” sets out to accomplish — our guinea pig democratic journey. In making our democracy effortlessly and peacefully replacing military dictatorship, Nye writes that it is in the interest of the west to replace hard power with soft power in their dealings with resource-rich countries like Nigeria. He believes that soft power is excellently used to exploit resource-rich but management poor nations like ours, especially when carefully and centrally applied without arousing public fear. Not discovering how exploitive soft power has become more than hard power, citizens of corruptly and poorly management nations will turn out to be the ones jealously guarding western dummy democracy designed to serve the imperialists’ interests.

In Mr. Nye’s worlds, ”Not forcing them to do what you want them to do, but getting them to want what you want them to want for themselves is the most endearing power, our soft power.” Interpreted, he advised the west to carefully present the next stage of imperialism as complex and as difficult as to be understood let alone be fought against. If the presence of imperialism is difficult to be seen and felt those being exploited should seem to believe that this time around their destiny is finally in their own hands. And to ensure that soft power’s charm sweetens the hearts and souls of the exploited in designing its control system, care should be taken to ensure that the exploited people’s mass media fully control what the people read, what they hear, as well as what they see. Since by controlling what they know, soft power is automatically controlling what people do and how they do it.

Remotely controlled this w

ay, he assured the next generation of imperialists that neither the sponsored and distantly controlled political scavengers nor the distantly ruled economic scavengers should ever complain, since they could hardly have the smartness to fully foresee being losers embracing dummy western democracy. With all the landmines carefully sown all over our democratic landscape, certainly not only is Joseph Nye’s soft power imperialism working perfectly. Also blossoming alongside is the softer version of Henry Kissinger’s National Security Study Memorandum-200 (NSSM-200), which since 1975 ensures that vastly resource-rich countries like ours are socially and economically suffocated and decapitated. And that they are made completely ungovernable frees their vast natural wealth for America’s economic growth and for the prosperity of the American people in perpetuity.

When you publicly announced to a people that their nation will soon disappear, you knowingly not only provoked irreconcilable fear in them but also incited in them the-get-out-of-it-quick-before-it-is-too-late syndrome in all the ethnic groups composing the state; so that any slightest national problem quickly degenerates into a pointer to the expected doomsday. That how far the irreparable damage that CIA pronouncement on Nigeria’s disintegration come 2015 has to our nation’s psyche. That our government never fiercely protested such divisive incitement not to mention severing diplomatic relations with the US only tells how truly sovereign we are and the seriousness of those who are the custodians of the indivisibility of the Nigerian state. It is very much understandable for those who understand the kind of power the imperialists have over their agents.

That we have accepted our role as spectators, subservient members of the world, guests in a world controlled and run in our exclusion is enough to show that the black race’s future is desolate and hopeless to say the least. Our shameless leaders can’t agree more that it is even too much a role to be assigned the position of spectator guests in others’ world.

It is not only difficult to rock the boat one finds oneself on, but since doing everything to keep the boat afloat is in both the interest of the imperialists and their agents, it is equally understandable why our politicians believe it to be no go area. Or can you take arms against yourself? That is also what a state of lawlessness — poor rule of law — does. It not only protects local fronts to continue to go about their sabotages against their own nation with impunity. It goes further to promote those the saboteurs to higher leadership positions. It is obvious that getting away with illegalities encourages more illegalities which go on to incapacitate the state itself, especially when the payback is the kind of swimming in sheer opulence money can buy our leaders find themselves in, who do so in complete abdication of responsibilities associated with leadership. If they move around like conquerors and emperors, why shouldn’t they given that they conquered poor and powerless fellow citizens with the help of the imperialists.

So deficient in responsibility, these western hired democrats, besides spending their blissful lives refilling his pockets with public money for next elections, now spend their free time going around the world acquiring worthless titles and wards. But why are they in endless acquisition drives? Besides earning them false public respect, acquisition of those cheap titles and awards are done believing they could be used to cleanse their battered public image.

The end results are what we are all witnessing today; a decade of democratic experimentation, which rather than marching forward us forward economically and socially, is making us worse off than when we were under military dictatorships. Worse off because at least under military dictatorship the rulers only stole money for their insatiable primitive accumulations. But today, besides politicians stealing to meet their insatiable primitive accumulations, they have to steal for their next highest bidder, cash-and-carry reelections. Since the stakes are so high, politicians also need some external financiers — mostly those foreign beneficiaries of the status quo. It is this that puts our political parties in their present state of hopelessness; the prevailing democratic injustices, endemic internal rivalries, and inherent carpet crossing political culture. Once a nation of zombies is in place, the people are made docile and under control.

Since the tyranny of the few cannot go on forever, best way to get the nation of this imperialist ambush as argued by Franklin Roosevelt is, ”The only bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.” With politicians now fully convinced that this shaky edifice we call Nigeria could easily collapse on all our heads, they have recognized the urgency to turn give democracy a human face — starting with overhauling the zombie parties.

The forthcoming Peoples Democratic Party chairmanship election could be the much awaited turning point for this timely overhaul. But to begin this difficult process of repositioning Africa’s largest party, there is the need for the party to have an impeccably principled high performer, a man with uncommon resilience and persuasive wisdom. Such a leader should be someone whose unmatched ethical and moral value records earn him unmatched national and international respect and trust. Originally founded not just as Nigeria’s largest party in Africa but also with an ultimate goal to transforming it as Africa’s largest party in Africa, the rebirth of PDP could only be successful if and only if led by someone with African visibility and influence, someone who does not need introduction anywhere in Africa as well as around the world.

But who should that PDP impeccable leader be than Bamanga Tukur? Who should that leader with unmatched global influence and the diplomacy to unravel the complex global economic and political realities be than Tukur? Where can the party find such a tested change agent, a leader with a larger-than-life readiness to clean-up the mess called PDP than Tukur? Who is that charismatically cerebral, melodically persuasive orator than Tukur? Who is Africa’s distinguished leadership case study, someone who has single-handedly given corporate Africa global corporate visibility and prized voice than the man who has more than a decade remained the unchallenged Chairman of NEPAD Business Group and President of African Business Round Table than Tukur?

A distinguished African global goodwill ambassador, his global diplomatic clouts around the world earns him an annual allotment of speakership honour at every UN gathering of the world’s heads of state. A veteran philosopher-king running PDP will means turning it into a party of political gentlemen and women, a party run purely on meritocracy and accountability, a party crowded by honest and patriotic Nigerians, and above, where politicians who cherish their good names are in majority than moneybag politicians. Under this perfectionist leader, the largest party in Africa will also become party with the highest ethical and moral value standards for members. Expected in place is a powerful peer-review-mechanism system to constantly subjected officeholders to public scrutiny.

A perfectionist leader who never believes in anything less than best of the best, as PDP chairman, Tukur will definitely leave no stone unturned in his effort to build world-class in-house team of exceptionally talented policy designers, researchers, analysts, strategists, and entrepreneurs, men and women who besides exceptional broad-based policy track records, are also hired based on flawless right mix of professions, aptitude, ethics, achievements, and personal career ambitions. For this reason a Tukur administration is definitely goi

ng to become a melting pot not only for most creatively and innovatively wired political and economic policy-developers, whose ingenious footprints on will be what will eventually give birth to a PDP. Also highly multitalented Africa enthusiasts, young political entrepreneurs and technocrats who are completely dedicated to crafting a Pan-African PDP manifesto will all rally around Tukur-led because of the legendary role model position he occupies across the continent.

As a respected reformer, his cleaning up of the party will begin with his distancing from the party its present corrupt and authoritarian members. Besides being a strong believer in party loyalty, he also believes party loyalty should begin with loyalty to corporate Nigeria, as a strong sovereign state with loyalty to it superseding loyalty to the party. Since tax-paying should form the very heart of loyalty to one’s nation, his leadership should definitely take members’ tax-paying civic duty as nonnegotiable. For this reason his administration should make paying right taxes and when due a mandatory part of the party’s annual membership renewal duty; and should any member evades tax, he or she should expect to be automatically deregistered from the party.

His rightful elevation to the position of party chairman should also see the elevation of party chairman as party chief policymaker, party chief election organizer, party chief dispute and conflict administrator, and above all, party chief legislator as important part of his legacies to the party. Others should include being the leader who supervised the party’s befitting headquarters, the leader who established the party legislative think-tank group, and the chairman who single-handed brought strong party internal democracy and the supremacy of the rule of law to Africa’s largest party in Africa. In short, under his leaderships, PDP will be retooled as a people-oriented party that national consciousness in social inclusion will be the baby he gave birth to while chairman of PDP.

A leader since long schooled in the art of conflict resolution diplomacy, Dr. Bamanga Tukur’s consensus building wisdom will unlocking the party’s door to greatness not only by bringing back those expelled from the party but courting those who left voluntarily as a result of not happy the way the party was being should his priceless gift to the party. With his deep-seated patriarchal influence cutting across the country, there is way as party chieftain he shouldn’t bring to bear his unflagging brotherly shock-absorber shield. Of course, had he was in charge of the party during the recent anti-fuel subsidy removal protests, Mr. President should have been assured of an iron-sealed backing from rather than the shocking abandonment he received from his party.

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