I would love to see Buhari win the general election. Don’t get me wrong. I do not like Buhari I also do not trust him as far any inclined person can throw him. However, 2 things possible outcomes to him winning the election obviously appeal to me. One, he could be as magnificient a leader as his blind followers hope he will be – that can only be good for Nigeria. Or he could be as horrible as I expect him to be and how I would love to laugh in some people’s faces. FYI, I am currently taking down names. Jokes aside, it is disheartening to see people missing the point. We are engaging with the process in the wrong way. Let me illustrate with the following points.
The Illusion of Choice
We have been conned to believing that the choice we have is obvious and simple. Either choose Goodluck or Buhari. Those are your choices. Nothing else. By inference one of them must be credible, right? We just have to be discerning and the gates of nirvana in Nigeria will open. I hear you. A choice between Buhari and Goodluck is like making a choice between being shot in the arm or the leg. All the arguments in support of either candidate are a perambulation on how we can do without one limb or the other. I wish we could envisage a situation where no shooting can occur. We need to be smarter in our engagement with the governance process and not wait for elections to pretend as if we have a simple choice, an easy path to national redemption.
Preoccupation with the candidates’ private religious practices is misguided, disingenuous and wrong. It is of absolutely no relevance whatsoever. I urge all Nigerians to desist from it. International media does not help by insisting Nigeria is divided by a Muslim north and Christian south, as if that has anything to do with governance, leadership and politics. As a Christian person myself, I don’t think faith has anything to do with someone’s ability to do a job right. That is all the presidency is, by the way, a salaried job. (More about that later). I can imagine going for a job interview and saying, ‘these are my qualifications, this is my requisite experience and oh! Furthermore, my being a Christian (or any other religion) trumps all of that.’ Then I sit back smugly and wait to be ushered into the job like a superstar! Hmmph! That is as ridiculous as it sounds. So stop it!
I am not a fan of neoliberal manifestations of democracy. I do not know anyone who truly is for all the hype it gets. In its neoliberal form, democracy is an ideology, a state of absolute bliss, a condition of often unattainable perfection of governance. It relies on viable institutional structures, engaged populace, accountability and consequences for improper use of the power of the state and abrogating the desires of the people. It relies on people being uncomplicated and not having varying wants, interests, needs and desires. Some people’s desires include the annihilation of other people.
Furthermore, the history of democracy indicates that any nation-state that adopted democracy successfully evolved into it. Modifications were made to adapt it to pre-existing governance structures. Any nation-state upon whom democracy was imposed (mostly post 1960) suffers from an incongruence between democracy and pre-existing governance structures and international political ideology. Democracy thrives in societies that are individualistic and causes conflicts in states that are communitarian in nature, because it attacks the fabric of community; just like adversarial systems of dispute resolution destroys relationships while conciliation repairs them. The Nigerian mentality sees democracy as a means to eat to the mystic ‘National Cake’ (which no person has bothered to prepare). Democracy in Nigeria is purposively appropriated by the political elite and used to empower politicians and not populations. The illusion of democracy is the currency at which our oppression is bought.
The Search for a Messianic-Saviour Leader
One of the biggest mistakes we make in elections and our articulation of them is the search for someone, whose position in the presidential seat will be a cure for all the ills of the nation. The person the ‘cap fits’, the ‘solution to our problems’, the ‘only man for the job’ as if there was any such thing! Firstly, if 160 million corrupt people have a righteous leader the nation will be corrupt and no change will ensue. The leader is a fruit of our own poisonous practices, only when we fail to disobey ordinary laws, do not appropriate funds, do not use our office to benefit our own stomachs can we ask a president to do the same. In the same vein, if 160 million pious people choose an equally pious person to pilot a plane of fire, that plane will still be in flames.
Secondly, the presidency is a salaried position, no more, no less! A lot of the manifestoes out there fall short of a job description. As long as our politics lacks ideology, we will elect personalities that we know nothing of. I do not personally know Buhari or Goodluck, but a lot of the arguments I am hearing in support or detraction of either makes me think that maybe some people are living with these men without the knowledge of any one else. Politics should not just be about ideology however, but about policies on housing, education, immigration, health, social welfare, economic resurgence, defence etc. not about who used to be Buhari’s driver, honestly I don’t care a fig for that!
Stockholm Syndrome Politics
‘Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.’ Sound familiar?
We have now, arrived at place in history that we believe that making the most of a bad situation is the only option we actually have. If we do not educate ourselves on the fallacies of the arguments placed before us, if we do not divorce ourselves from the groundless prejudices imposed upon us, if we do not learn our own history, if we do not take some responsibility for the governance of our country for our own sakes…then we are the clueless ones.