Nigerian Democracy, American Media and the Imminent War

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

It is being said that Nigeria has joined the “civilized world” because it is now a democracy. Democracy is good; however, I would counsel caution in the manner in which it is being practiced in Nigeria. The whole-hearted adoption of western-styled democracy by Nigeria makes me a little uneasy because it will not work; to think otherwise, in my judgment, is disingenuous.

This thing called DEMOCRACY blinds us; it is a stratagem. It is a ruse in the manner in which it is being practiced in Nigeria. We need to modify its application. Does anyone really think what we have in Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Minna, Benin, and Ilorin and in other parts of Nigeria is democracy? Does anyone really think the on-going charade is democracy? Conducting elections is not enough; just as showing up at a university campus with a stack of books is not education.

American (presidential democracy), or the British (parliamentary democracy) will never work in Nigeria. I envy both systems — systems that work well for the aforementioned countries. But, we are Africans; and so we need to take into account our history and our peculiarities and our collective circumstances. No matter what we decide; no matter the adjustments, no matter the destination we arrive at, we should keep most of all the characteristics of democracy: civil society and civil liberties; accountability and responsiveness; constitutionalism; majority rule; individualism; the rule of law; and popular sovereignty. We should.

The West is totally and completely different from Nigeria. We are a different people. To import their system – wholesale — for our use is silly. We do not have the culture, the supporting institutions, the education, and the temperament for western-style democracy. And so just as WE all pretend about “one Nigeria,” we pretend we are a democracy. We want to be seen as democratic; we want to be seen as modernizing and globalizing; we want to be seen as “civilized” and we want the West to praises us…it is all a crock, a two-kobo charade. As a nation and as a people, we are good at make-believe. For instance, we all know that it is in the interest of the country to split it into four or five nation-states, or at least split it into four confederating states…but no, we all go around yelling “one Nigeria.”

Nigeria is like a bad marriage; and what accompany a bad marriage are either a peaceful separation and divorce, or a nasty court and private war in the manner of the “war of the roses.” What’s to be done about all those violent ethnic conflicts; what’s to be done about corruption fueled by ethnic loyalty; and what’s to be done about the savage-race for money and power with little or no regard for our humanity? We need to modify our system of government; we need to modify and make meaningful adjustments to the western-style democracy we currently pretend to be practicing. For instance, I see no reason why the military and the civilians can’t (jointly) rule the country; I see no reason why certain people should not be excluded – forever excluded – from participating in the electoral process.

The US Media: Whatever happened to the fabled independence, impartiality, and sense of fairness and accuracy of the American media? It is hard to distinguish the so-called independent media from “US Government Mouthpiece.” CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and a host of others no longer pretend they are reporting the news as they see it; all they do of late is announce the US government’s positions, intentions and propaganda. Day after day, channel after channel – it is all about the technological and fighting superiority of the US military, and about men and women going to foreign lands to “defend the national security interest” of the United States.

War is horrible and there are no lights and cameras and special effects in the killing fields; yet, these Medias glamorize it. The manipulations and partiality being displayed by the American media is sickening. Its treatment of the impending war has lost all credibility and claims to impartiality. Any wonder most of us now turn to BBC and other foreign media outlets for our daily dose of news and information?

This is a segue into one of the most vexing matters of our time: the unjust and imminent destruction of a nation and its people by the United States of America. It is unlikely that the 6million peace-loving global citizens belonging to “focus groups” can dissuade the White House from pulping President Saddam Hussein and his countrymen and women. The bilateral and multilateral talks in Paris, London, Rome, DC, Moscow and other world capitals, as it turns out, is just a charade.

Why is President Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld bent on beating the daylight out of Saddam? Well, there are at least five reasons: oil and other natural resources; the raging new imperialism and the need to dominate the world; the issue of honor in that Saddam bested all the men and women who wanted him out of power during the Gulf War; and in particular, Saddam corned ex-President Bush. Therefore, it is now up to the son to restore his father’s “good reputation.” The war on terrorism is not yielding the anticipated results so the White House needed a diversion. Osama bin Ladin is still alive sipping hot tea in the caves of Torra Bora, and in the process taunting the White House. The reasoning here is simple: until we are able to fish Osama — dead or alive — out of the caves in Tora Bora (or wherever else he may be), let us shift our attention to Saddam.

Moreover, the White House is unable to find a long-lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis – they needed another diversion; and Saddam Hussein became an unwilling punching bag. Whatever Ariel Sharon and his cabinet (in concert with the Jewish Political Action Committees and countless other lobbying groups devoted to the Jewish and Israeli cause) want, they get. Only, it is beginning to look like the Israelis are questioning the orders the White House bark at them. Until the Israeli prime minister resume obeying DC; DC needed something to keep it busy.

So, this impending war — as unjust and uncalled for as it may be — is not about the stockpiling of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction by Baghdad. It is not about Saddam being a malevolent brute that oppresses his people; it is not about Saddam being a troublemaker and by extension rendering the Middle East or the world unsafe. No. It is about America’s needs and appetite for cheap and unfettered oil supply; influence, control, and strategic power in that region; the need to further the economic aspirations of defense contractors; personal vendetta and ego; and the need for divert the world’s attention from the bungling and clumsy ways by which they dealt with Osama and his followers.

Students of international relations and world politics know this: “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Long before Osama came along, the United States of America had perfected the art and science of terrorism – only that they named their actions COVERT OPERATIONS. Covert, indeed! The five-decades long US meddling and aggression in Iran which resulted in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953; the shooting down of Libyan planes on January 4, 1989; the US bombardment of pro-Muslim areas during the Israeli’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982; the destruction of Sudan’s pharmaceutical complex in 1998; the CIA’s disruption and destabilization tactics in Latin America and Africa; US brazen support of Israel when it massacres, mutilate, and bulldoze houses and sanctuaries belonging to the Palestinians — using armored tanks, apache helicopters and gunship. Is this terrorism or covert operations? Well, it smells like terrorism to me.

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Ayodele Omoaye August 21, 2008 - 8:19 am

Your views of Nigeria and the world are illuminating, i hope our leaders will learn a lesson or two from our views.

Rhea October 30, 2007 - 8:00 am

Comments on world affairs are quite illuminating.

uche September 10, 2007 - 5:06 pm

the comments on nigeria are profound


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