DO WE DESERVE THESE MONSTERS?
One indicting statement has been used so many times and has blackmailed the society into believing that it is true. 'Every society gets a government it deserves', has been mouthed so many times that a people who are bedeviled with bad governance start feeling guilty that they had been complicit in the disaster that has befallen them. Yet, blaming such societies might often be a classical case of 'blaming the victim'.
Whenever I hear that statement being made in reference to the sorry situation we have in Nigeria, I used to be filled with anger because I had often felt that Nigerians were being blackmailed into accepting that we, the ordinary people deserve the raw deals that we have been getting from the governments we have had over the years, especially during the last 11 years of the practice of our so-called democracy. Ordinarily, foreigners could be adjudged justified in making such a sweeping statement in their reference to democratic societies, in their assumption that the people are responsible for the enthronement of all the strata of government that hold sway over them. But because they hardly understand that no such thing ever took place in Nigeria, they keep blaming us for the gargantuan atrocities that have been our governments in Nigeria.
The truth is that our democracy has never been 'a government of the people' because we had only had a ritual of elections, as those who lord it over us had routinely come together and had played on our gullibility to capture the entire polity, install themselves and pocket all of us. I have always been amazed at the dishonesty and naivety of our countrymen and women who had continued to lay the blames of our serial failures on the military, and for that, one is always made to look foolish at any suggestion of the possibility of a return of the military. Our people have become adept at living a lie, because if one can afford to be honest, one would confess that an overwhelming population of ordinary Nigerians, different from the fat cats who milk and benefit from the obtuse and predatory system that is currently in place, are daily praying for a Jerry Rawlings who would come around and sweep the system clean.
Yet, that is the sentiment and prayers that you hear, mouthed daily at market places, at the parks, at filling stations, at bus and taxi stops…in fact at every location where ordinary Nigerians exist and peddle their daily activities. Yet, in misplaced self-confidence, the marauders persist in their view that Nigerians love the ongoing kleptocracy that is masquerading as democracy and would even lay down their lives in its defence.
It is not that Nigerians prefer unelected Nigerians in military uniforms to their unelected counterparts in agbada who predominate in legislative houses and government houses, because there is a general tendency for people to prefer the deceitful freedom which politicians provide, even if there is no freedom from want and poverty. But there is a growing thinking these days that it could be better to be misgoverned by a few people who know and insist that they were never elected than to be gang-raped by thousands of people who claim to have been elected (when they were not) and who are punishing us in many demeaning ways and daring us to go to hell.
Take the current membership of the National Assembly for example. Look at the frustration the entire nation now feels from the knowledge that we all - even the president, as was expressed in his media chat last week - feel helpless at the looting and distribution of national resources amongst its members and completely unconcerned and unperturbed by public outcry and sentiments. The reason is that Nigerian law makers have become the law unto themselves merely because they claim to be legislating for a hapless society that has nothing but contempt for them. A part of that process now involves allocating the hugest chunks of our collective resources to themselves in manners defy both rhyme and reason.
No longer satisfied with their involvement in all manners of self-serving illegalities, the NASS members have moved on to desecrating the few icons that are left for our society. Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives invited and received our innocent young school children into their chambers to educate them practically on how the laws of their land are made by 'honourable members' that were ostensibly elected as representatives of the people as they had been taught in their schools.
These children had brought their fertile, impressionable and transparent minds had to witness and record the practical modalities of what had been theoretically impressed on their young brains. The practical thing that they witnessed firsthand, instead, was that their country has as its lawmakers, a bunch of irresponsible thugs who fight and tear their dresses in public and in their full glare and of those at home to whom the horrifying incident had been brought by live TV transmissions.
That night, my horrified seven-year old daughter, who had recognized one of her 'uncles' among the pugilists, had asked me why they were fighting; I did not hesitate to tell her that they were fighting over the sharing of our money which they had looted. When she followed up with; 'so, why did you allow them to steal our money, why didn't you people call the police?', I was lost for words.
The reality of our collective failing came crashing into my consciousness and for a fleeting second, I that statement that I had disagreed with started to assume a more solid veracity to me. In reality, why are 150 million Nigerians allowing these few people to do this to us - by failing to make any laws that benefit us but rather despoiling our coffers and minds, even as we look on like complicit?, I started asking for the first time. Why have we, like hypnotized zombies allowed a few people ride rough shod over our feelings and or very lives and dignity as if we do not exist?
Definitely, I might not have been responsible for the election of the man who is said to represent me, as Andy Uba had imposed him on us over and above Hon. Chike Anyaonu whom our people had voted for, and that situation is replicated across the country. But are we not responsible for allowing them to continue to rape us and loot our coffers of resources that would have been used to run our lives? Is it not worse that we could sit by and watch another level of that atrocity brazenly inflicted on some people who dared to protest why such looting should go on? Why are we sitting down and seeming to agree that Speaker Dimeji Bankole and his group have the right to refuse to defend themselves against the allegations of misappropriating over nine billion naira, the type of amount that each of the good governors like Peter Obi, Sullivan Chime and Martin Elechi of South East use to perform creditably in their states?
Why should Nigerians allow Bankole and other members of the National Assembly to get away with the impression that they have the right to panel-beat, strip naked and even desecrate a lady among those who had the courage to ask questions, even at the heels of the revelation that the EFCC had just discovered a whopping sum of N400 million in a private bank account of the deputy speaker? I don't know about the other Nigerians, but I am getting convinced that I am becoming complicit by my silence and docility in the face of the fact that we are watching the systematic failure and end of Nigeria.
I am convinced that the fallouts from the inevitable breakdown of law and order that that is being perpetrated and condoned in the high places through the ongoing and uncontrolled defiance of evil rule of men over our institutions that would bring about the collapse and the eventual disintegration of this country. Most Nigerians are obviously patriotic enough to move to forestall the demise of this country. Yet, President Jonathan has the opportunity to ensure that he would not be the last president of a united Nigeria. Corruption, insecurity and the arbitrariness of sacred cows in places of authority are the greatest dangers facing Nigeria today. He can move against them, while counting on the support of all Nigerians, who do not want to be held responsible for the sorry society we now have.
Or should Nigerians better wait for a Jerry Rawlings to do it for them?