This is paraplegic democracy -By Fola Ojo

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Fola Ojo

In ancient Oligarchy Athens, once upon a time, power and authority of governance were vested in the hands of a few oppressive aristocrats who ran a loose collection of independent city states. A change movement within the society later clamoured for a form of government that would run better pro bono publico. Democracy was the popular choice in 508 B.C.; thus, Athens became a place often regarded as the birthplace of democracy as power dropped on the laps of the people.

Also, many years after when newly declared Americans got sick of the tyrannical rule of a remotely positioned monarchy, they also sought a system. Democracy was thus copied from Athens, albeit, in a faintly different format. The system thrived in these global hotspots because of the ingenuity, dedication, and determination of its practitioners.

Before Nigeria’s mooching military goons handed over power to civilians; it assembled men and women to fashion outlaws the soldiers believed would make rulership better for the country. Nigeria also settled for democracy. I find no fault in the system itself; but swinging back down the memory lane to when it started, can we say that democracy has worked, or is presently working as it should in Nigeria? What have ordinary Nigerians benefitted from this system of government? I am still scratching my head for an answer that is not unsound.

Aside from a few practitioners who have been made billionaires overnight; aside from cronyism and political cultism; aside from ethnic hobnobbing and tribal frolicking around the veranda of power, democracy has not recalibrated lives of ordinary Nigerians. Only those men and women whose honorifics are garnitured in purulent panache are beneficiaries of the system that only works for a foul few. Readers, democracy is set to loosen up the respiratory tract of a nation in distress; but in Nigeria, it has asphyxiated it. It is to give voices to ordinary people; but it has muffled them. In the uterus of democracy, justice is not miscarried; fairness is not foulness; and government money is not found under government pillow in the government house. In democracy, little people should matter; and votes should count.

If democracy is a sincerely working system somewhere else far off, it has become a discouraging pursuit here. Even after many years of merry-go-round and rabble-rousing rehearsals of the system, and after trying times of trial-and-errors, it’s the same sorry story across the length and breadth of our existence. Democracy has become a course to be forcefully taken in the classroom of pain and suffering.

A system that does not put food on the table for the hungry, but only breeds fiercer demons of impoverishment and pestering aristocratic pauperisation deserves a rejig. Some probably think we are on the right course. To believe that is to be in grand delusion and gross self-deception. Democracy in Nigeria today is in a paraplegic state on the iron wheelchair as our leading practitioners play Russian roulette with human lives and destinies of a people.

Where is democracy where monies are disappearing in bails and misappropriated in batches in big public offices with zero comeuppances? Where is democracy where trillions of dollars have been sunk in sundry programmes and projects, but infrastructure remain decrepit? Anywhere you find corruption blossoming as an undying cat with nine-million lives, democracy is in a paraplegic state. If Nigeria were a child, today, she is an orphan holding on to a fizzling breath of life. If Nigeria were a task, she has become an abandoned project. President Muhammadu Buhari may be strutting hard and committed to a bet on a Nigeria that eventually will work like America, but what about others in his team? Nigeria has been abandoned by very many of those in charge of Nigeria. Men of influence and affluence love the status quo of corruption. It keeps them alive and well. It is their hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Have you ever heard of this shibboleth, “There is life in the blood”? In Nigeria, two things are in the blood, it seems: Life and corruption. To rid the blood of corruption, you must get rid of the blood. And getting rid of the blood is getting rid of life since life also is in the blood. Aha! If you think the corrupt will watch as you attempt to terminate them, think again. They will fight dirty if they know they’ll lose their lives as you try to get rid of corruption.

Break your larynx in screams, and crack your pharynx in shouts. Approach the World Court at The Hague in litigation after you are done filing papers with the Supreme Court in Abuja. Shed tears and sweat and lament until the cow comes home. The corrupt in Nigeria will forever be corrupt; and they will always have a safe haven in a system that is consciously and matter-of-factly sympathetic with corruption and the corrupt. Nigerian laws, without a doubt, are hard on corruption; but adjudication is very commiserative to the monster as men in power continue to aid and abet same. Quicquid plantatur solo, Solo cedit- “whatever is affixed to the ground belongs to the ground”. Corruption is affixed to the ground in Nigeria; and it feels and sounds normal around big men who have chosen to make it their milk and honey. For how long must a few elements torment the multitude? For how long must the mighty repress the weak?

The former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, is still in hiding. Is this guy a hero who some powerful people want to reduce to a zero? Or he is just one of the fat fleecing fellas in authority haunted by ghosts of co-labouring gluttonous geeks? From his hidey-hole, he told us that multibillion naira monthly allocations are regularly shared by thieves under the guise of paying pensioners. He also said thatN1.5bn is given every month for police pension, but the actual amount needed was N488m. At the Police Pension Office, N300m was shared every morning like armed robbers’ loot, so said Maina. And for a long time, N1bn is stolen every month from pension. Whether Maina is a mess or a messenger of good tidings, know I not. But he is insisting that the payroll of the Head of Service was N825m while a whopping sum ofN5.12bn was fraudulently paid by the government every month to a workforce that does not exist. Now, who are these thieves? We may never know; but Maina said that some Nigerian senators are in collusion with pension thieves.

In wars between nations, if a fight strategy is not fair, it is called war crime. Corruption fight that focuses on ‘Peter’ but questions not ‘Rita’s questionable business activities is nothing but a “war crime”. I heard that the fight against corruption has overwhelmed Mr. President, but the bombardment against it must continue on and fiercely. Roofs that harbour stolen money must be brought down; and farmlands holding pilfered treasures must be bulldozed. Fingers found in the purulent porridge of corruption must be knuckled to confession and submission; and grandmasters of greed and graft must be woken up in the middle of the night to answer questions. Their sleep must be disrupted; comfort evicted; jets impounded; and yachts yanked.

Mr. President, no pussyfooting, no procrastination, no sacred cows, no armistice, no amnesty, and no ceasefire until prudence and chariness make a triumphant entry into Nigeria’s polity. Wait a minute, am I just dreaming?

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