Democracy Day and Democrazy in Nigeria: Celebrating Pharisees and Poor Performance

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John the Baptist

So tomorrow May 29th is Democracy Day here in Nigeria, a day created by our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to celebrate democracy or more accurately celebrate his ascension to the throne of the Nigeria nation because in essence that is what the democratic experience in Nigeria has become, a monarchial system with the president at the head. It is a system whereby a strong willed president can get his way most of the time. This is not to discredit the role of the opposition in the Nigerian democratic experiment or the role of the people. The legislature for the most part has remained a rubber stamp for executive policies. It is perhaps of recent that I have seen some semblance of a sign that the legislature is making an attempt to do its job (third term dismissal, subsidy scam probe, pension scam probe, etc). With that said, I sat down yesterday and watched the church service in commemoration of democracy day.

It was an event filled to the brim with who is who in the current administration; it had the president and his entourage in attendance, senators, some governors, representatives, generals and chiefs of the armed forces and paramilitary services. Not to be counted out of the festivities was the acclaimed godfather or our president, Chief Edwin Clarke. I spotted him dancing and jiving with a mien of self-satisfaction that his boy is at the helm of affairs albeit a dilapidated state of affairs. I am sure the billions in his account might be a more accurate reason for his satisfaction. Ole/Thief/Barawo knows no ethnic group or tribe, for all have chopped in our nation and come short of the glory of God. Perhaps that is just conjecture. There was the unmistakable presence of a group of Christian clergymen from several branches of the Christian family. From what I gathered, these were the group of pastors and men of God who had the president’s ear. Of course they had every right to be there after all, this was a church service.

The clergy men went on and I was amazed to see that it seemed that they were in a competition to see who could pray the most and for those who were able to give a sermon, we witnessed the cushioning of criticism of the government and the state of affairs in Nigeria today. This is not to say they did not lament the state of affairs in Nigeria today. I remember the prelate of the Methodist church I believe couching some criticism in his over an hour long sermon! Yes you read that right, ol’ boy was speaking for more than hour. It was almost like each clergyman that came on was being paid by the hour or minute and hence proceeded to give the type of long, wordy and boisterous prayers. This reminded me of what Jesus said about the Pharisees and Sadducees in the bible,

“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with verses of scripture inside and they wear extra-long tassels on their robes. And how they love to sit at the head of the table in banquets and in the most prominent seats in the synagogue!” – Matthew 23:5-7

“Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed the prayer, ‘I thank you God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even life his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” – Luke 18:10-14

I am not a fan of the president but I do feel like he is surrounded by sycophants who don’t tell the poor man some hard truths and I feel that there is nowhere where this is more evident than in his relationship with the clergy. Our president was acclaimed to be God’s choice for Nigeria by many of our pastors who showed religious bigotry in the last election, some with subtlety. Basically, they implanted a sense that voting for Buhari was akin to voting for the Devil’s choice. How true that is, I raise my hands in ambivalence. Some of these clergymen surrounded themselves around the president after his election and proceeded to reap the fruits of their labor. This labor however is not labor in the lord’s vineyard; it is labor in an earthly vineyard, yielding wines of power, prestige and wealth in some cases. Based on hearsay, people even give contracts to some of these clergymen to give to the president. He listens to their advice more than some of his ministers. Ladies and Gentlemen, which way Nigeria? They pray with the president every Wednesday and Thursday yet we are not seeing any results. Are these men praying to God or to Mammon?

Before you label me antichrist, I am not against prayer in the corridor of power. I was just a little annoyed and disgusted by what I see as the president’s need to press upon the Nigerian populace that he is a religious man. He puts together these showy services every democracy day, Independence Day and so forth. He has it televised and broadcast for all to see. I riddle him this, kai Mr Azikwe (any self-respecting Nigerian will demand our president remove Azikwe from his name, we no gree!) when are you going to televise your governance. In fact we should have cameras follow you everywhere like Big Brother so that you won’t be able to engage in corruption. If anything going by the current state of affairs in Nigeria and insecurity, the president should engage in prayers asking for God to have mercy on this nation for indeed a lot of things are going to shit. Mr President, we don’t need to see you on tv engaging in prayer, pray in private and deliver results because if I were to go by the correlation between the amount of prayers we see from you and the progress in this country, I will give up on faith and become an atheist. Yes, I was that offended by the service.

Democracy they say is a government of the people by the people for the people. This was what I was taught in primary school. Out of the 51 years since independence, Nigeria has experienced 23 years and counting of democracy. So in reality, that is almost half! We are no longer a nascent democracy. We should demand from our government good governance, transparency and performance in all areas of endeavor. I am not Ezekiel, so I won’t bore you with the litany of problems present in the country. If you live here or read the news, you know it. This is not lamentations. Our government should listen to the truth and stop all this perambulating like headless chickens. It is a government and party that is afraid of the truth that will engage in exchange of insults with Buhari who basically said using a hausa proverb that rigging won’t be tolerated in 2015. Mr President focus on the present, let 2015 be. If we are truly in a democracy, the people will decide if they want you to stay longer. Shikena. Heck, if you perform a miracle turnaround of Nigeria in the next 2 or 3 years, I will campaign for you. I swear by all that is good in this world. As for the legislature, when a former president calls you armed robbers he knows what he is talking about. You accepted bribes in the past to pass his executive policies so of course he has the guts to confidently say what he did. Your dignity is already soiled in the minds and hearts of the Nigerian people, there is nothing you can say that can convince us otherwise. Through your actions, win back the Nigerian people.

Forgive my rant, it is my style. Democracy in Nigeria today for me means high handed people in power who fail to listen to the people until it is too late. Democracy is power to those who can afford to have a voice. It is not power to the people, the people are busy trying to survive and make it while the dividends of democracy have been insecurity, higher cost of living and poverty. It should never be the case in a country that the cost of dying is cheaper than living. Dear clergymen who surround our president, do not obfuscate the truth. Speak the truth and it shall set you free. Dare to be that lone voice in the wilderness much like John the Baptist crying, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” I truly believe that this democracy is heading to hell in a hand basket unless we all stop lying to ourselves and speak the truth and demand service from our rulers. For in our democracy today we have rulers and kings not public servants.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the reading public, what does democracy mean to you? What should our democracy be like? Is the force feeding of the Godliness of the president not a subtle way of suggesting his infallibility?

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6 thoughts on “Democracy Day and Democrazy in Nigeria: Celebrating Pharisees and Poor Performance

    malkia said:
    May 28, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Wait, your president has live prayer sessions? Wharrizthis? I thought Kenyans were religious.
    Sometimes, I feel like blowing up all our “leaders” and I wonder if I am alone in this. I suppose not.

      Sir Farouk responded:
      May 28, 2012 at 8:01 am

      He does, our president is more pious than the pope it seems. We are yet to see if piety brings results. Blowing up our leaders? I cant comment on that for fear of being called a threat to national security.

    hajjoh said:
    May 28, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Sobering, and thought provoking. As a nation we are ruled and partial to sentiments, averages and my turn to chop mentality . We need to compel our government to do more. There are several things God will not do for us, one of them is choose or intervene on who we choose to rule us, and how they rule us. We must strive for better.

    African Mami (@afrikanmami12) said:
    May 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

    This was a very well written piece, and I PRAY that you get more comments. Prayer is necessary in such a case as yours my dear, but when it comes to politics, that is where I ,and everyone else involved should bid religion adieu. I do NOT care for your religious convictions as a political leader, to be quite honest, if you worship the devil or are an agent of his, I could not even bothered one bit. What I care for is performance.Why? African leaders have this hypocritically laced ideology of hiding under the wings of religion, and as such, we as the people do not PROBE hard enough, and ask in return, for ACCOUNTABILITY!

    African leaders in general, 99.9% of the time, operate on an authoritative role, as opposed to the more apt and humbling servitude role. Once they ascent to power, they conveniently forget that their employer is African Mami, Sir Farouk and the millions like us, ordinary citizens. Since they are in a position in which the powers bestowed upon them, an ordinary citizen can only dream of, they then ABUSE the powers vested in them. Again, this goes back to the mentioned fact, as ordinary citizens, we do not PROBE and ask for ACCOUNTABILITY.

    So, how then can this situation be remedied? Certainly reading pieces such as yours forces one to tap into their critical thinking skills, but that’s not enough. Action is warranted. Most of the voters, are easily SWAYED or rather manipulated, due to their level of education. For example a lot of voters in the rural communities, let’s be honest have a very limited education, thus limiting their understanding and the POWER that they hold in the political process, which is significant. Grassroots movements should be mobilized across Nigeria, to educate folks on the political process. Everybody knows HOW to vote, even a child, but most people do not understand the long term-implications of WHY they should vote. As such it is important, that they understand, that voting for people like Yoweri Museveni, will mean that they will have a GREEDY INGRATE for a president.

    I have a lot to say on this matter, clearly, but lemme stop for now!

      Sir Farouk responded:
      May 29, 2012 at 2:11 am

      You have said it all and even some. It is true that in reality the uneducated masses actually hold the majority when it comes to votes which is why a lot of times it amazes me that we continue to harp on with big grammar and speak to people in the city. It is not a surprise that PDP wins elections, they have a vast network that taps into even the most remote village. You are right people should be sensitized to the long term implications and power of their vote or else we are doomed to be ruled by democracies chosen by the ignorant majority

    Ayo said:
    May 29, 2012 at 2:26 am

    The truth!!!

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