I bet you saw that heading and half expected me to talk about how we are going to protest and kick start a revolution either peaceful or violent that topples the current political class. We will do all this and have the country run by intelligent and politically awake youth who will take Nigeria to the promised land and we will live happily ever after. Right? Yeah sounds like something I would say or write 5 to 10 years ago. Naija has sucked most of the idealist out of me, Not that I don’t believe in the revolution, I think we are due one in this nation. Dear Tuface, smh. Enough said! I believe we all have a right to voice our grievances and put pressure on our political class to effect positive change. Now, would they listen? Doubt it! We are a nation that does not listen to gently and well articulated points or people that are way too gentle, we are the gra gra nation; a nation of Warri no dey carry last, of sharp lagos boys and bini boys, of mallams and Okoros who wont hesitate to cheat you in the market unless you “open eye” for them. This is Nigeria. Equal opportunity loudness, everyone is shouting yet very few actually make sense. Read the rest of this entry »
I was born and came to consciousness of what democracy was in an era of military rule. In primary school we were told that “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Sounds like a great soundbite and of course I thought my primary school teacher “Uncle Francis” (No, he is not my father or mother’s brother, we just had a habit of calling teachers Aunty and Uncle, smh) was so smart until I grew up and found out it was a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Back to the matter at hand, if democracy is people driven as implied by the definition; what if the majority of people in question are a set of selfish, bigoted, biased, unpatriotic, power hungry, wealth driven, corrupt and illiterate human beings waiting for God to come down from heaven to fix their country himself when clearly they aren’t God’s chosen people (read:Israel?)? Happy Democracy Day Nigeria!
Yes, some of you are thinking shame on me for being so darn pessimistic. If you are looking for a feel good message, I believe a prosperity preaching pastor would be more up your alley. Don’t get me wrong, I bet there are things to be optimistic about in Nigeria but forgive me if I fail to see them at this moment. Democracy is great in principle and when you look and think about it, Nigeria has managed to sustain 14 years of democracy and that is quite an achievement. From the pseudo-dictatorial days of Obasanjo to the laissez-faire, amnesty giving and slow motion presidency of Yar’adua to the clueless and drunken stupor of a presidency of Goodluck Jonathan (You gotta love a man that can handle his liquor. Link), of course one would be amiss to mention that all the regimes have had one thing in common, corruption to varying degrees of intensity.
I have heard it said that a people deserve the type of leadership they get. Definitely that is the case in Nigeria. How do you expect your leaders not to show ethnic bias and nepotism when majority of Nigerians mistrust people of other ethnic groups or regions or on the flipside only trust people of their own ethnic group or region? How do you expect the leaders not to be corrupt when people are consistently cheating each other in business, marketplaces and homes daily, when people are basically waiting for their turn to taste part of the national cake? How do you expect the government or leaders to value the lives of their citizens when the citizens don’t feel outraged or upset over the loss of a single Nigerian life as long as it doesn’t affect them?
Truly truly I say unto you that even if we have a free and fair election it wont solve anything whatsoever. Why? Well first of all if democracy is the will of the majority, what if the majority vote based on ethno-religious bias and do not vote for the most qualified candidates? Will that produce leaders capable of changing Nigeria? Do I hear someone living under the delusion that Nigeria is on the fast track to being a nation free of ethno-religious bias? (#nawash) What if the people vote based on monetary persuasion? When such leaders get elected and seek to recoup their electoral investment with interest through corrupt practices, are they not somewhat justified? What if the parties are only concerned with the attainment of power for the sake of power, influence and wealth and not because of any genuine desire to move the country forward? What if the politics of the country is not policy driven and almost all the parties have similar or same manifestos? I guess the concept of choice goes out the window. What if even an election amongst 35 governors cannot be properly done without controversy? Where is the hope for 2015? What if the country still has political godfathers capable of single handedly deciding the outcome of an election with their power, influence and wealth? What if the parties keep recycling the same politicians with the same ideas they had 30 years ago? What if the youth are not any better and seek power for the sake of popping more bottles of champagne in Abuja clubs? Democracy is a hell of a thing, no?
Democracy is a great thing when you have a people that are willing to put aside petty differences. It is a great thing because it gives rooms for a pool of ideas to be shared and the best ideas are utilized to move the country or polity forward. Democracy is a great thing because it allows for checks and balances and leaves no room for any individual group to completely control a country. Democracy provides for an independent judiciary, legislature and media. Democracy makes the government accountable to the people that put them in power supposing they did. Democracy is a beautiful thing when a country has moved beyond vying for regional dominance and seeking to find policies that will better the lives of citizens. Democracy is delivering dividends in security, education, health, power, infrastructure, agriculture, poverty eradication, reducing the wealth gap, fighting corruption, fostering unity, peace and progress.
Once again, Happy Democracy Day my fellow Nigerians. Ladies and Gentlemen, What is wrong/right about our Nigerian democracy? How can we make it better? Is there hope for this country? Will the poor not wake up and eat the rich one day? I humbly await your comments.
Today I m going to delve into what might be a simplistic analysis of why despite how hypocritical and corrupt some of us might be, Nigeria is a hyper-religious society where everyone is an aspiring pastor, imam, voodoo priest, dibia, aljana sef and so on and so forth. Even those who aren’t religious at all pretend to be. I know there is a difference between believing in God and religion but that isn’t the point. I am going to make a hypothesis that everyone who practices any form of religion believes in a supreme or divine being/s of some sort.
You see before Islam or Christianity came every society in this conglomerate we now call Nigeria believed in gods and deities of some sort. Some believed in spirits of ancestors, others believed that magic enchanted trees held spirits that had powers over life and death. Some believed in mountain spirits. gods made of wood, iron, clay and so on dotted the landscape. Islam came in through the jihad of Usman Dan Fodio. I wont give you dates because I m not a historian. Google it. Basically he conquered much of Northern Nigeria and some part of South Western Nigeria. Some communities in Northern Nigeria of course were not conquered or were not found by his armies. These people continued to worship their gods until the Christian Jihad came and took much of Southern Nigeria and some places in the North. The Christian Jihad initially came through trade and even engaged in the slave trade. Eventually this turned to trade in goods once slavery was abolished. In the name of civilizing the “heathens”, communities were conquered and colonized. This led to the entrenchment of Christianity in these communities. Even though to this day some still practice the old religions. The point of this little narrative is that the main religions we espouse in this country weren’t really ours to begin with. They were imported, much in the same way we import tokunbo (second-hand) cars, electronics, lace and even toothpicks. I guess there must be a connection between our love of foreign goods, accents, lifestyles and the pervasion of foreign religions in our society. We must feel subconsciously it brings us closer to God.
In present day Nigeria, people bring God into every sentiment possible. In politics, our president ran a campaign partly on the premise that God had chosen him by killing his predecessor. It was God’s will for him to be president and he was going to stand up and uphold this God-given mandate. This rhetoric worked with many Nigerians because we are basically a hyper-religious society. It didn’t matter that dude had a manifesto that was as vague and full of metaphors that many people don’t exactly get much like the book of Revelation in the bible. Of course aside from Gods will, Uncle Jona spent billions of naira in the campaign. I guess God’s will is good but when that is in short supply, money works as well. Apart from Uncle Jona, politicians in our fair country bring God and religion into so many things. When they are campaigning in muslim areas they espouse the virtues of allah but when they get to office they steal through their teeth. Aside from politics, people use the name of God at weddings, naming ceremonies, parties, TV debates, even thieves and armed robbers pray for a successful operation before going forth to steal and rob people. When a market trader wakes up in the morning, he/she prays to God for a fruitful business day. Secretly in his/her mind they are praying for mugus who they will cheat by hyper-inflating the price of their goods and services. We have had Uztaz (sp), Deacons and even Reverends who have become leaders and politicians and proceeded to loot their constituents dry. Yes, Nigerians believe in God.
Why is God so necessary in Nigeria? I posit that part of the system of oppression that was inherited from the colonial powers is the power of oppression by mental enslavement. You see so much suffering and poverty in our country but people smile and go about their daily businesses and even smile. We were once called the happiest people on earth. Despite, the public looting, cheating, corruption, road accidents, armed robbery, kidnapping, bokoharam-ness, bombing and whatnot. People still smile and make merry. Almost nobody protests or gets angry about the state of affairs. Was it Marx who said, religion is the opium of the masses? I think so. And boy was he right. I m not saying religion is not good but many people in our country follow a “by God’s grace/inshaallah” approach to life. They are poor? Oh no problem, they pray for God to provide. They are embarking on a trip on a bad road. Protest to the governor? Go on a strike? No. Call a team of Imams and Pastors to pray for the road because an evil spirit must be causing all the accidents on that road. Fear of attack of Armed robbers? Demand better policing? No o. Pray everyday before you sleep for God’s protection. I go on and on. Large amount of students failing WAEC? Demand reform of educational system? Nope. Pray for your son or daughter to pass WAEC and damn the rest of the country to failure. You know if you are Nigerian, you have that friends that is always preaching to you and forming born again but does the meanest things. I m a fan of prayer, don’t get me wrong. I even prayed this morning. I just firmly believe it is God’s will that we take action to impact our destinies. We cant continue to sit around and wait for God to come down and save our country, we have to take the country by the horns. After all, I think the Bible Says God help those who help themselves.
What say you? Would Nigeria benefit from a more practical and less religious sentiment-based population? Enjoy the 3 videos below.
R.E.M. – Losing my religion
2face – U no Holy Pass
Shaggy – Church Heathen