Democracy Versus Demon-Crazy: Why America And Nigeria Will Always Be Poles Apart By Dr. Wumi Akintide.
I spent much of my free time these days watching news analysis on television by the best in the business around the world. It’s been that way with me for years but more so for close to one month now due to a breaking news first aired on MSNBC by Rachel Maddow whose sexual orientation has been the subject for gossip in my circle of friends but who I so much admire for her guts and brain power. She suggested in her analysis that the brilliant but abrasive New Jersey Republican Governor may have abused his powers and therefore will have some queries to answer on the rumors that his closest aides taking their cue from their boss or just trying to please him, might have done something unethical with regards to the 4 day hell of a traffic hold up around Fort Lee.
A trusted associate of the 2 term Governor had chosen to close down few of the major lanes to the Washington Bridge to deliberately embarrass a democratic mayor who has refused to endorse the Governor for his second term bid. Evidently, the Governor was not satisfied with the number of democrats crossing party lines to endorse him because he wanted to send a message to the Republican party he should be their nominee for President in 2016 if the don’t want to lose by double digits again to the Democrats who have always been on the right sides of all the issues that are going to determine the outcome of that election.
The rumor started like a storm in a tea cup which was initially dismissed as mere speculation or a fishing expedition by some liberal reporters to dig up some dirt on Governor Christie the Republican front runner. The Governor and many people had thought the report would go away or fizzle out in a few days but instead of going away it has been gathering momentum ever since because Rachel Maddow and much of the news media in America would not let go. That is the nature of American democracy. Unlike its Nigerian counterpart where a candidate can commit political murder or blunder and still go ahead to win a landslide victory because elections are won or lost in Nigeria before the first vote is cast. It only takes a Houdini like Obasanjo or his political son, Jonathan who feel the can brow-beat or intimidate their opponents by using their power of incumbency. In America such a behavior would have been a knock-out punch for them regardless of who they are.
The Fort Lee scandal has since been elevated from a storm in a tea cup to a tempest and could yet rise to a Tsunami pretty soon from depending on what Governor Christie does or does not do. The report has assumed a new dimension since January 8 because of a new revelation that the Sumo wrestler Governor could only ignore to his own peril in a vibrant Democracy where American voters expect anyone who would be President to be totally above board like Caesar’s wife. If you compare the 4 day traffic jam on Route 95 North to what routinely occurs on Ibadan-Lagos Express where the monthly Holy Ghost Night and religious activities have become a public nuisance and nightmare that can only be tolerated for so long only in a third world country. Not even Saudi Arabia with her feudalistic Sheiks would tolerate such a traffic hold-up in Mecca, their city of faith during their Hajj operations.
Nigerian journalists, legislators and public officials, Ministers, Governors, Senate President and Speaker of the House and Mr President who frequently ply that so-called Express in their bullet-proof cars would not say a word because they are scared to death to say anything that could offend Cardinal Olukoya or Pope Enoch Adeboye and because the Nigerian Democracy is so terribly flawed. Rather than raising the type of alarm being raised in New Jersey today, such an uproar if it ever occurred in Nigeria would have been quickly swept under the carpet in a few days and that would be it. Don’t get me wrong. I love and respect General Overseers Olukoya and Adeboye, but in America their Mega Churches without anyone telling them would have taken the traffic situations on that road into consideration before hoping to get more than several millions of their followers disturbing the peace of other travelers on that Express the way they have always done in the name of God and without have any conscience about it.
In Nigeria, a fiery investigative journalist and whistle blower like Rachel Maddow would have been quickly silenced or put in jail or intimidated and harrassed by hired assassins paid for by tax payers money. The whole Federal Government led by our clueless President is shaken to its pants by the one man battalion of a young man named Omoyele Sowore from Apoi in the Riverine areas of Ilaje, Ese Odo in Ondo State. Unflappable and fearless Omoyele like Kenule Tsaro Wiwa or Jasper Adakar Boro before him, has had the courage of his convictions to challenge Mr. President for only paying a lip service to fighting Corruption in Nigeria. He is probably able to successfully do that because he lives in far away New York where his freedom of speech is guaranteed and protected by the Law. I am able to write a lot of what I write today only because I share the same privilege.
President Jonathan’s actions and body language suggest that he has become the real problem and not part of the solution to the Nigerian problem. The President could care less about all the noise the Nigerian Press and Omoyele and his Sahara crew have been making on the Nigerian Aviation Minister who has now dared the President to remove her if he can. The tail is wagging the dog in the Nigerian Democracy. The President is moving forward with his so-called transformation agenda which is a joke given all the scandals his Government is facing right now. In America he would have been impeached and his kins man from Delta who is telling Nigeria that hell would break loose and Nigeria made ungovernable if the ijaw President did not win in 2015, would have been kept under surveillance by Law Enforcement.
The President recently authorized an exchange of prisoners with the UK, one British prisoner for more than 165 Nigerian prisoners in his bid to finally help a PDP chieftain Ibori who can then be granted a state pardon like Alimiyeisegha once he is sent back to Nigeria. He could begin his freedom by being admitted to the Incentive Care Unit of St Nicholas for the remainder of his term in prison while effort is made to arrange a state pardon for him and the highest honor the country could bestow on any of his citizens. The President needed filthy-rich Ibori to bankroll his re-election bid in 2015 in pretty much the same way the terribly corrupt Governor has bankrolled Yar Adua’s election in 2007 with his loot from Delta State. Such a move would have been seen as a heresy in America.
President Jonathan has again ordered the Nigerian Military to grant a general amnesty to suspected and actual terrorists who have done so much havoc in Nigeria because he now needed to appease voters in those segments of Nigeria including his own backyard in the Niger Delta in preparation for his re-election prospects in 2015 now that his megalomaniac father of the nation and his erstwhile mentor has disowned him. Such a move would never have been tolerated in America without the president paying a high price.
It is now clear that Governor Christie is being cleved by half when he gave the impression he was fully cooperating with the investigation because he had nothing to hide. What the Governor does about the “sub poena” powers of the New Jersey Legislature which is expiring next Tuesday would now have to be the litmus test to determine if the Governor would survive the Tsunami coming after him in the weeks and months ahead as preparations for the primaries gather momentum. If the Governor is dead serious about his promise to let the chips fall where they may, he would not hesitate to order the re authorization of the “sub poena” powers which would make it impossible or even illegal for most of the witnesses in the scandal to plead their 5th amendment rights against self incrimination. He would be seen as the “King of Kings” and “the Lion of Judah” if he could do that in America, a country governed by the rule of Law.
The third tier of Government, the Nigerian Legislatures were always more interested in sharing money or getting a Governor or a President to settle them to pass any bill the President or Governor has sponsored. They are ever so ready to sweep any scandal under the carpet if the price right just like the deposed Deji of Akure is today appealing to Governor Mimiko to reinstate him on a quid pro quo basis because he was sure the Akure king makers are ready to forget and forgive his transgressions if he is able to grease their palms. Selection of the next Deji would probably be the first and the last the Olusoga Administration in the Akure Council of Chiefs would ever make because majority of the Chiefs including Olusoga himself are in their late 60s and 70s and their chances of surviving the next Deji are very doubtful in a country where the average span of life for men is 46 and 49 for women. I am watching very closely what Sao Adebayo probably one of the appointees of the deposed Deji in the Akure Council of Chiefs is going to do. He would have a whole lot of explaning to do to those of us from Irowo Quarters who have as much stake as he has in that title.
If you factor in the shoddy manner most of the President’s or Governor’s nominees in Nigeria are confirmed or denied confirmation by the Senate in the the Federal and by the Legislature in the 36 states,, you will understand what I am talking about. Many of those nominees like the current Aviation Minister with all the scandals in her past including a certificate forgery was confirmed by a useless Senate which could not scrutinize her credentials and her deposition to be sure nothing they ought to know has fallen thru the cracks. They went ahead to confirm her thus giving her the license to commit murder so to speak. Our clueless President is today rambling and playing Russian Roulette with a Minister who has been irredeemably damaged and should have been let go a long time ago.
The President could not do it because the Minister is the one helping him to raise funds for his re-election in 2015. Part of whatever money she may have made from the 255 million she paid for 2 bullet-proof cars might have gone to the re-election funds of Mr. President. Such a revelation should have been sufficient ground for impeachment of any American President. The President’s whole world now depends on his holding on to office beyond 2015 or else hell is going to break loose. His first lady would have a heart attack if for any reason her husband’s re-election is derailed. That is precisely why Nigeria is riddled with stench and corruption the end of which nobody can predict as the country is sinking deeper and deeper into oblivion from all we can see.
What Governor Christie and his aides in New Jersey are being vilified and pilloried for right now is a daily occurrence that nobody would have paid any attention to in Nigeria, based on our own variation of Democracy which I define as “Demon-crazy.” While the ideal Democracy in most developed countries preaches social equality and justice, “Demon-crazy” merely pays a lip service to those ideals as mere slogans. What Demon-crazy does is oppress, intimidate and perpetually keep Nigerians in perpetual bondage as our Government is actually run by demons, misfits and the mediocre masquerading as leaders.
As a retired political science major domiciled in the greatest city in the world, my daily routine is predictable. I wake up every morning Monday thru Friday at exactly 6 AM even if I went bed as late as 3 AM. I wake up to watch BBC News from 6 to 6.30 AM to have a glimpse of what has been happening around the world in the previous 24 hours. I then quickly switched over to “Morning Joe” and his amazing panel of pundits and political analysts which frequently includes many of the American news makers of the past and present. I do that from about 6.30 to 7 AM. If I am not going anywhere since I am now retired and have more time to myself, I either go back to sleep till 9AM when I have to get up to watch the “Daily Rundown” by my favorite White House Correspondent-in-Chief, the one and only Chuck Todd of the United States.
I get all the analysis and information I need to last me till 5 PM to watch MSNBC Ed Chultz and “Politics Nation” by Al Sharpton, “Hard Ball” by Chris Matthew at 7 PM, Rachel Maddow at 9 PM and Lawrence O’Donnel by 10 PM. I get everything I need to make an informed analysis or take a position on any topic that captures my fancy.
I cannot be happier about my life in America because if I never left home, I could predictably have been dead by now not just because of what I write and how I live my life, but because of other pressures, frustrations most Nigerians have to endure from their own leaders and Governments in all nooks and corners of Nigeria from Okrika to Baga on Lake Chad. A scandal like Oduahgate and numerous scandals our embattled President Goodluck and his aides have to routinely live with, would have run me crazy and totally insane. When I add that the pressures from not getting my pensions paid on time in Abuja to my responsibilities as the first born in my family, I feel forever grateful to America because those are some of the factors that would have killed me in Nigeria where kidnappers and hired killers are two for a penny. All our docile, incompetent and corrupt President could do about it is take the 5th or send his mouth organs like Edwin Kiagbodo Clark or his hatchet men like Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe to start defending the indefensible as they struggle to explain to the world what the President has been doing a how well he has been performing his duties and meeting his obligations to Nigerians. It was all a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury but signifying nothing, if you ask me.
You will never have a President Jonathan coming out like Governor Christie did yesterday, taking the bull by the horns, showing contrition, and answering questions for no less than 2 hours in a Press Conference and leaving no one in any doubt that the man who has had a reputation for throwing punches is finally taking a hit himself, and making the best of it like great Mohammed Ali did when he survived 15 brutal rounds of hell with late Joe Frazier in their epic thriller in Manila or the rumble in the jungle with great George Foreman in Zaire. Governor Christie had to do that to salvage his credibility in American politics.
Everything that was good in American democracy was in display in the awesome exchange the self-opinionated Governor had with the Press and most of the best whistle blowers in America who are ready to jump on him like a junkyard dog. They all look the Governor straight in the face, telling him before television cameras not what they think he wanted to hear but what he needed to hear loud and clear as a public figure.. “You stay out of the kitchen if you cannot take the heat.” Political leaders in America do not toy with public opinion and dissent the way our leaders do in Nigeria. They instinctively know and understand that the Opposition is the Government-in-waiting and therefore a must in a Democracy. They cannot think of any party holding on to power for 100 years as canvassed by Obasanjo who calls himself a “democrat” and the self-appointed father of the nation.
Can you believe that Governor Christie who is yet to openly declare his intention to run for President in 2016 is being given such an intense scrutiny roughly 3 years to that election. If you compare that scenario with how our own President Goodluck emerge as a running mate to Yar Adua in 2007, you will be amazed. Our own Baba Mero just woke up after being lobbied by our current first lady to please allow her husband to become the running mate to the terminally-sick Yar Adua on the platform of the PDP which already knew it was going to win the election even before the first vote was cast. The same Obasanjo is again arrogating to himself the power to pick the successor to Jonathan in 2015 based on his own calculus and self interest. Obasanjo fully understood that Goodluck Jonathan who was going to be only a heartbeat from the Presidency, could suddenly become President if Yar Adua were to die in office. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Yar Ardua died in office roughly a year or two to the end of his first term. That was how Goodluck became President.
Not once in the Governor Christie Press Conference did I hear the Press call him” Your Excellency”, a title which every Governor and every President in Nigeria love so much that they would have a serious problem if any of their children or family members including their first lady forget to address them as such. Governors and Presidents are not subjected to such indignities in Nigeria because by our calling them “Their Excellencies” every now and them, we are letting it sink into their consciousness that they are superhuman even though we all know they are not. We do the same to our senators and Assembly men by describing them as honorable even when we know a great many of them were actually rigged into office and they are making more than 100 times the remuneration for their peers and counterparts elsewhere around the world.
Ibori of Delta State was “His Excellency” before he looted his state treasury and before commencing his 13 year jail in London for money laundering. D.S.L Alimiyeisegha was “His Excellency in Bayelsa and the boss of our current President before jumping bail in London, dressed as a woman to escape justice. He returned to Nigeria to be given a state pardon on a platter of gold by his former Deputy who was catapulted to the President of the country by default. The same Obasanjo is nows engaged in a brawl with the President because he now seriously regretted picking him to begin with and the rest of us are now supposed to roll out the drums and to start cheering the same Obasanjo who has bragged so many times that his PDP was going to rule Nigeria for 100 years because Nigerian voters are dumb and because their rigging formula are going to be perfected by Professor Jega and his boys at I.N.E.C.
Has any of you reading this ever heard of a Democracy where one party is allowed to dominate a country for 100 years and where the Opposition is never given a chance to have its own day in the sunshine. How do you tell if the Opposition will perform unless you give them a chance to prove their mettle. In the ideal Democracy which has now been embraced in Ghana, Jerry Rawlings to his everlasting credit had allowed the opposition party to taste power and to show that no one political party has a monopoly on wisdom and good government. In the UK and in America, the British or the American voters would never have tolerated a government however good to dominate power for as long as the P.D.P has done in Nigeria. Never. I don’t care what the P.D.P may be saying about the new A.P.C, it is time for the P.D.P to go. If A.P.C does not keep their promise, ii too should be thrown out in 4 years. That is the way Democracy is supposed to work.
Obasanjo is back again at his game by flying a kite that Governor Lamido would be his handpick for 2015 while Governor Amaechi would be his running mate. Where for God’s sake did Obasanjo learn his punditry to be picking and choosing for Nigeria from one election circle to another. That was the guy who picked Shehu Shagari and his N.P.N over and above Obafemi Awolowo and his U.P.N in 1979. Look at where his judgment has led Nigeria. The man was released from an Abacha dungeon to come lead the PDP. He lost very badly to Chief Oluyemi Falae even in his backyard in Owu. Such a man would not have been allowed to become President in more civilized polity, but the PDP had their own agenda.
They wanted to use Obasanjo but he ended up using them to consolidate his power as President by fooling his Yoruba kith and kin to vote for him to be in a position to assert himself as a PDP nominee. Once he got what he wanted he threw the AD Governors under the bus, got rid of the only A.D leader, Uncle Bola Ige who could have stopped him. The PDP took over the whole of the Southwest until “Ololu” of Lagos, iron man Tinubu assisted by Chief Bisi Akande beat Obasanjo to a retreat taking back the Southwest from the PDP, a feat that only Awolowo could have achieved. They routed Obasanjo at his game and may well repeat the same scenario in 2015 if their new mega party can prove or demonstrate it is different from the PDP which has lost all credibility in Nigeria as far as I am concerned.
Demon-crazy is what we practice in Nigeria. It is time for Nigeria to uphold the real tenets of Democracy as practiced in America. If I have to choose between the American and the Nigerian model, the choice is clear. Need I say more?
I rest my case.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters