Posted by News Express | 29 September 2018 | 1,570 times
I’ll begin by making a personal confession so as to make full disclosure about my position on participation in qualitative and transformative politics as a Nigerian.
I am a robust and firm believer in the political philosophy of Plato, one of the best known original thinkers from ancient Greece. Plato’s political philosophy is encapsulated in his recommendation that only philosopher-kings should wear the toga and leadership garb of political office-holders since decision-making and implementation to improve the living situation of the nation-state and the citizenry can best be piloted by the best and those vastly knowledgeable about virtues. Plato made an allegorical comparison of leaders and sailors: He affirmed that sailing a ship takes skills and competencies, not a popularity contest.
For Plato, competence should be the qualification for leadership.
Argued differently, it can be stated that Plato’s political concept is governed by his well-founded apprehension that if knowledgeable and competent persons abandon the field of governance in the hands of nitwits and never-do-wells, it follows, therefore, that the nation-state would not just be ruined but the educated and technocrats stand the risk of being led by idiots.
As a student of Plato’s political school of thought, I do not share the fallacy in Nigeria that politics is dirty and should be left for cultists and armed thugs.
However, believing in the genuine concept of Plato’s political thoughts is not the same as living in self-denial, in such a way as not to acknowledge the rapid devaluation of politics and governance in the 21st century Nigeria.
The indubitable fact is that the political or ruling class is dominated by persons who were railroaded into offices and recruited without any form of adherence or respect for best global practices, whereby only the best should be good for leadership. Nigeria is one country you see an old retired military General, who overthrew a democratically elected governmentand ruled without a constitution for 20 months, over 30 years ago, still railroaded into office as president of a 21st century nation. Nigerians, ironically, put new wine in an old wineskin and hope to witness technological advances, even when an analogue personality is at the helm of affairs. This is the apogee of existential hypocrisy.
Nigeria of today has reached a climax whereby those who wield political powers at different levels have started redefining hypocrisy and falsehood to look like acceptable statecraft, and those who should speak out are afraid of losing out in the bonanza of sharing national cake by Mr President as cake-sharer-in-chief.
Let’s begin from the part, before getting to the whole, which implies there’ll be an analysis of the political health status of the local government tier of government vis-à-vis the states, which is the second tier and then round up at the centre: the Federal Government.
The question arises: What does the Constitution recommend as the best form of government at all levels of governance?
Section 14 (1) gives us a clearer picture of how and in what form should governance in Nigeria be patterned after. It states: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice.”
For the avoidance of semantic gymnastics, let me state that the framers of the constitution told us that the application of the word “SHALL” means that it is obligatory and binding on all authorities and persons.
Section 1 of the Constitution also offered the aforementioned extrapolation when it states: “The Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federation of Nigeria.”
Dwelling on the examination of the constitutional format of the governance process and system in Nigeria will logically take us to what the Constitution stipulates as how local government administrators ought to be selected and or elected.
In the light of the above intellectual conundrum, we will refer to section 7 of the Constitution, which states unambiguously thus: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every state shall subject to section 8 of this constitution, ensure their existence under a law, which provides for establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”
But the crop of governors we have had since the return of democracy in 1999 have also exploited the weakness of the state Houses of Assembly to emasculate the independence and democratic system of governance at the local councils. This was also the Supreme Court's interpretation of the section corruptly obtained by the thieving governors, which depicts the state assemblies as enjoying the powers to exercise the ways and manners of running the councils to such an incredible extent that those who understand simple English grammar are left wondering how on earth any sane being could interpret the clear intendment of section 7 of the Constitution: which states that democratic choices of leaders of local government councils are guaranteed.
The governors have successfully elevated hypocrisy to an art form; in such a way that local government areas in their respective states have all been operationally and financially weakened through the running of what they roguishly termed state local government’s joint account: a cesspool of corruption and a channel through which council fund from Federation Account are laundered and stolen.
It has now become fashionable to notice that most local government area councils are administered like the colonial outpost of governors.
It, therefore, follows that the killing of democratic governance structure at the local council level has bred widespread poverty in the rural areas which are homes to about 60 per cent of the population of Nigeria. Poor local government governance means dysfunctional infrastructural facilities and ballooning poverty. The demise of local government councils has resulted in phenomenal rural-urban drift, which has distorted urban planning in the respective state capitals and has increased urban poverty.
At the state level, political godfathers have always made sure that only their foot soldiers are manipulated to win the juicy slots of governors. And for the duration of their stay in office, a majority of these governors usually deliberately fail to develop and transform the state of infrastructure in their states. The collapsing and failing infrastructure in these states are traceable to the criminal collusion of the members of state Houses of Assembly, populated by contractors affiliated to the governor.
States of the federation are afflicted by the ghost of self-centredness, even as the welfare of the citizenry becomes secondary to such an abusive level that the electorate is only good for what these politicians have now baptised as “stomach infrastructure.” The system of administration of stomach infrastructure flows from the governors who operate like emperors and goes down to a few poor people through some bogus schemes supervised by the wives of governors. The devaluation of good governance inevitably comes from political hypocrisy.
Political hypocrisy breeds nepotism and nepotism breeds corruption,just as corruption leads to the erosion of integrity in the system. In the same vein, erosion of integrity in the system gradually leads to a general state of dejection, failing infrastructures, mass poverty, high crime rate and frustration, which spiral into a breakdown of law and order by even those clothed with the powers to enforce the provisions of the Constitution.
Political hypocrisy at the state level has assumed frightening scale to an extent that state governors, who are ending their second term of four years, use all unlawful means to manipulate their stooges. For example, in Imo State, Gov Rochas Okorocha plans to install his son-in-law as his successor in office, sponsor his wife for the House of Representatives, while he retires as senator representing the Orlu zone.
In Lagos State, the reign of a strong godfather known as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has become formidable: he picks and chooses the governor of Lagos State. The political hypocrisy in states dovetails into the hijack of all juicy offices by state governors, who dish out patronage and favours to boot-lickers. In the case of Lagos State, besides political offices, the godfather is the chief revenue collector or so it is alleged. The political godfather of Lagos also installed his wife Remi Tinubu as senator representing the biggest constituency in Lagos State.
However, the biggest arena of political hypocrisy is at the federal level, as it is now.
The head of the executive arm of government is President Muhammadu Buhari, who has subscribed to the provisions of the Constitution. This same holder of the office of President took an oath, firmly holding on to the Holy Book of his religion, (Quran) to abide by the tenets of the Constitution. But, he has been found wanting in many fronts, such as nepotism, which offends the presidential oath of office.
President Buhari has also failed to comply with section 14 (3), on the necessity of observing the Federal Character principle in the area of appointments, just as his administration has been accused of concentrating most juicy offices and projects to his state of birth, Katsina. As head of the executive arm of government, Buhari is seen manipulating security forces and anti-graft agencies to embark on politically motivated witch-hunt of perceived opponents, just as these attacks have escalated with just few months to the 2019 polls.
Nigeria has never witnessed the scale of naked partisanship displayed by the police and all the anti-graft bodies, most especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has an acting head that was seen being decorated with a campaign badge of the incumbent president,who is running for a second and final four-year tenure.
The lack of transparency and accountability has become so clear in federal agencies such as the NNPC, Nigerian Ports Authority and Ministry of Aviation where over N2 billion was frittered on so-called branding for a proposed national carrier that has no single aircraft, only for the same anti-corruption administration to postpone the “inauguration” indefinitely. Governance at the federal level now resembles the modus operandi of organised crime gang.
The father of all political hypocrisy is that the two successive budgets have provisions for halting medical tourism; yet, the President and his familymembers travel to Germany and UK for health-care, and the incompetent Minister of Health sees nothing wrong in it.
The Nigeria of now has, indeed, redefined hypocrisy among the political class: Hypocrisy has become a political religion for the current administration.
•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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