Sycophancy and governance in Nigeria

by Ahmed Dodo

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

This week, my ever curious eyes took a peep into the various arms of government in my dear country Nigeria. And my eyes specifically picked up one of the most dangerous blight silently eating away our social, economic and political fabric. This is no other than sycophancy: defined as a process of using flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence. The Greek definition of a sycophant went further to illustrate him as someone who brings all kinds of charges and proves none. “It is their practice to bring charges even against those who have done no wrong. For from these they would gain most profit. The word of a sycophant entails false accusation, malicious prosecution, and abuse of legal process for mischievous or fraudulent purposes.”

All across Nigeria, the number one gainful trade now is to become a sycophant and praise most of our rulers to high heaven. It is now profitable in most of our local government councils, state Houses, including our fortified Aso Rock to become a sycophant and know your way around. Sycophancy has since taken over the job of sincere policy thinkers and makers and most of our social, economic and political ideas are now initiated and proposed by the unregistered association of Nigerian sycophancy.

Just take a careful scrutiny of most of our government offices, ministries and agencies and you will notice their conspicuous presence; always decked in flamboyant regalia and their sweet talk trademark. They wine and dine with our representatives in our states and National Assembly; they mingle freely among our local government chairmen and women, our governors and the presidency. They are so strong and powerful; what they only lack is the truth from their mouths.

It is no longer a big deal in Nigeria if wrong pegs are being put in the wrong holes and assigned to head sensitive and important positions across the country. This is actually part of sycophancy, the abuse of legal process for mischievous or fraudulent purposes. Sometime you don’t really blame these cliques of modern con men and women; they actually help expose the weakness and quality of those purported to be representing our interest at the local, states and national level.

It is a known fact that the Nigerian politicians and other government officials, including some of their private counterparts derive joy and satisfaction from flattering and praises; they love and worship titles, awards and other organized recognitions. They hate criticism and any opposition to their failure and ideas. The daily praises of some of our failed politicians in the pages of newspapers, radio and television is a good example of how sycophancy has taken over the reality in our development. You can hardly open three newspapers or magazines in the country today without beholding some commissioned pictures of purported achievements of a local government chairman, a commissioner, a minister or governor. Nigerians are bombarded everyday with commissioned articles, write-ups, commentary on radio and documentary on television of some of the achievements of these men and women, using public funds for cheap image propaganda. The Nigerian media both the print and electronic have since been conned into the activities of the sycophantic movement, with some of them daily smiling happily to the banks, fully aware that they have been selling innocent Nigerians falsehood and undemocratic propaganda.

Some of our traditional and religious leaders are not left out in this new venture, as some of them are well known supporters and sympathizers of various politicians and political parties. In fact, some of them are the grand patron of the sycophant interest group and humble beneficiaries of stolen wealth and government patronage. Their sycophantic voice and positions provide them with the opportunity to win contracts and fix their cronies in high government positions and private establishment across the country. Those who have already been bought by their various benefactors cannot and will not tell them the truth when the time warrants. They are always scared of losing their transitory positions and the good things of this vanity world.

What about our various public and private organizations? The act of sycophancy is now part of the qualifications that qualify a potential worker to gain employment and rise quickly in his position. You must be able to daily, weekly or monthly sycophant for your superior or co-workers otherwise you might find yourself stagnant in your career for many years while those with false and malicious minds overtake you like jet engines. Who cares if what they are saying or doing are selfish and destructible to the reputation of the person or organization; just try to be a convincible sycophant and you shall see some temporary wonders.

Sycophancy has been one of the most challenging factors why our roads still remain a dead trap despite all the billions yearly spent on them. It is the reason why our public schools are still looking like junk yards in this 21st century, and also part of the reason why we are still struggling to generate all the thousands of electricity megawatts promised by different administrations. I tell you, the daily adulation of our rulers has been part of the origin why most of our local and state governments are still finding it difficult to see the truth and effectively develop their constituencies. The sycophants have long knocked some false notions into their psyche. They cunningly tell them and show them what they want to see and not what they should sincerely know and understand.

All across the country, the most profiting business seems to be the smooth talk trade and some of our inefficient politicians are enjoying the sham ride on the false wheels of these men and women around them, whose number one interest is to abuse the legal process for mischievous or fraudulent purposes. Who cares if you are a failed politician, manager, religious or traditional ruler in Nigeria? Just have a good number of sycophants around you or become one yourself; then you shall see and feel the wonders of the sycophantic business in the country, especially if you can make your way in government cycles and always remain foolish and greedy and importantly unpatriotically never criticize the wrong actions of those in power even when you see the shape of truth glaring triumphantly across your face.

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UMO EKEMINI October 17, 2019 - 2:59 am



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