Sunday, September 06, 2015

Buhari’s 100 days: Democracy as it suits us

Democracy is good for Nigerians; but are Nigerians
good for democracy? Ponder that! In the introduction
to 'THE POLITICS BOOK', the following observations
are made: "If everyone could have everything they
wanted whenever they wanted, there would be no
such thing as politics. Whatever the precise
meaning of the complex activity known as politics
might be, it is clear that human experience never
provides us with everything we want. Instead, we
have to compete, struggle, compromise, and,
sometimes fight for things.

so doing, we develop a language to explain and
justify our claims and to challenge, contradict, or
answer the claims of others – this might be a
language of interests, whether of individuals or
groups, or it might be a language of values, such as
rights and liberties or fair shares and justice."

Now, in the pursuit of values such as rights and
liberties or fair shares and justice, moralism and
realism become two key components to align with.
Between the concepts of political moralism and
political realism, there is a need to step back and
explain which is better and which is achievable.
It is considered that at its most radical, political
moralism "produces descriptions of ideal political
societies known as Utopia, named after English
statesman and philosopher, Thomas More's book,
Utopia, published in 1516."

But some theorists are said to be of the view that
Utopian political thinking is a dangerous – very
dangerous – undertaking, as it has led in the past to
justifications of totalitarian violence.

"At best", however, "Utopian thinking is part of a
process of striving towards a better society" because
of values to be pursued and protected.
Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari, chanting
the mantra of anti-corruption in the last 100 days
may, indeed, be striving towards the enthronement
of a better society.

Even his body language alone speaks and determines
volumes in Nigeria's political sphere. But he has
opened himself to needless attacks in the last one
week over the lopsidedness of appointments. He has
promised to do better.

It was Plato who said until philosophers are kings,
cities will never have rest from their evils. In saying
so, he attempted to explain the need for men of
wisdom and deep thinking to ascend the leadership
of a country. His explanation was as simple as
demonstrated thus: The role of rulers is to ensure
that the people follow the "good life"; knowing what
"the good life" is requires intellectual ability and
knowledge of ethics and morality; only philosophers
have this ability and knowledge; and, therefore,
political power should only be given to philosophers.
This is, it is then contended, because until
philosophers are kings, cities will never have rest
from their evils.

Buhari may have started well with his body language
which has suggested to all that he would not tolerate
any form of thiefry. But with the appointments so
far made, he may be attempting to supplant one
form of societal evil with another form.

ECONOMY, we are made to understand that human
improvement has no tendency to correct the
intensely selfish feelings engendered by power.

In Mill's estimation, this is the warped and bleached
version of the modus operandi of the Wantoks of
Papua New Guinea (the Wantoks are the 'big men'
who accumulate state resources any which way and
then redistribute via patronizing schemes that keep
their people in perpetual servitude), a paradigm that
has long crept into the Nigerian polity because our
politicians are yet to come to terms with the lesson
that the welfare of a nation must rest on the justice
and judicious self-determination of its citizens,
stemming from a fair allocation of resources and

No matter the good Buhari is seeking, his sense of
fairness and judgment is today seeking cover – that is
without prejudice to the issue of merit upon which
some of the appointments have been made.

For the sake of Nigerians, Buhari's six months in
office should not replicate the downturn suffered by
his predecessor who, within the same period, the
massive goodwill he garnered headed for the bottom
of the sea. To avoid this, the President would need
to tone down the vuvuzela of anti-corruption – he
should allow the agencies to do their work and slam
the robbers in our midst in jail and stop the daily
mantra of 'we shall jail thieves'.

The more critical engagement for this administration,
which his predecessor missed, was wise counsel. Not
being a philosopher, Buhari would need to rely on
unadulterated pieces of advice from people who are
not only sensible but strategic in operations – the
sudden publication of the assets declared by the
President and the Vice President couldn't have come
at any other strategic moment (eve of 100days in
office with the noise from the opposition Peoples
Democratic Party, PDP, that nothing has been

Has the Code of Conduct Bureau finished its
verification or what has changed between the time of
the private declaration and last Thursday when Aso
Rock made it public? But this is what strategy is all
about. Jonathan refused to meet parents of the
CHIBOK girls for weeks but BUHARI symbolically met
with them in his first 20days in office. That is
leadership. His meeting with them has not caused the
girls to be released but he has given hope to the
parents and restored a sense of value and decency.
While we cannot hold down Buhari in 100days for a
job of four years, Nigerians, especially those with the
voice, should at least keep Mr. President on a leash.

What has happened – and strangely so – in the last
100 days is the emerging conspiracy of silence.
Those who should speak against the missteps of
Buhari are keeping quiet in the hope (more than the
belief) that they would get appointments. That was
how Jonathan was led down the path of ignominy.

Finally, democracy is not about keeping quiet when
what is going wrong suits our whims. It is about
standing up for what is right always.

What you are about to read is largely the ruling
party's view of 100days in office. The opposition PDP
says it will respond next week.

AbleMoJah® Nigeria.

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