Anti-Democratic Behaviours Of Nigerian ‘Leaders’
Abubakar Adamu, MSc, MCILT.
In the United Kingdom, we are free to say, Tony Blair (without even calling him Mr.) is George Bush’s Lapdog or George Bush is the axis of evil because we disagree with their so-called war in Iraq. Many people in the West can say all those things about their leaders, politicians, bosses or those in authority and more and no one is going to be in trouble with their livelihood, public rebuke, stop ones salary or a sack from job.
This is how it should be, because we live in a democracy (not ‘demo-crazy’). Democracy is an egalitarian principle for a tolerant society. One of the benefits of democracy is the Freedom of Speech and I add free expression of responsible opinion. Democracy is not a perfect system of governing but those who live under it can say so without fear for their lives. The ideal of the feeling of freedom is so basic and fundamental that its denial is inhuman as torture. Ken Serewiwa, who was a Writer and a Community Leader, was killed in Nigeria because he stood against the injustices to his people and the Ogoni nation.
Our Madiba, Nelson Mandela in his defence during the Rivonia trial (treason trial under apartheid regime), Pretoria Supreme Court, 20 April 1964, said he believed in “… the ideal of democracy and free society… it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” (Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Abacus Book, ISBN 0-349-10653-3). We should be able to criticise our ‘leaders’ and authority, it is nothing personal because they are not perfect. Comedians or cynics should be able to jokes about them. Nigerian ‘leaders’ are too serious and what for? They have less to show for their seriousness, in terms of social engineering and economic advancement of the Country. I am not a fan of George Bush but that guy is funny! He makes me laugh, as he makes mistake as many of us, he is only human. Bush was once shown on TV Out-take (a television or film reel not meant for public view) making funny faces. What a joker (Bush-man!)
However, we cannot accuse those in authority of crime without proof. We cannot insult/abuse their wives, children or their family if they are not public servants or interferes with government matters. I was among the two millions (2 millions) match to Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park in London before the Iraq invasion. I can therefore say both USA and the UK where wrong to invade Iraq. I can accuse Blair and Bush for not telling the whole truth before their war in Iraq because Weapon of Mass Destruction is not found, their main pretext for the invasion. I can say so and neither of them can order my arrest or ask my employer to sack me, that is democracy in action. Not the kind of Nigerian ‘demo-crazy’ where Senators are beating each other up on an issue that can be discussed or others sending assassin to an opponent to eliminate him or her. Who killed, Pa Bola Ige and other politically motivated killings? I hope Nigerian ‘leaders’ can see the difference between policy criticism and personal attack, which may be subject to legal challenge.
My friend James sees nothing wrong with the former suspended and disgraced re-instated Governor of Plateau, one Joshua Chibi Dariye. James was among those who campaigned for Dariye’s first election. I on the other hand called his tenure of office, a mistake and a curse on the beautiful people of Plateau (Peace and Tourism State) and that the man behaved as an ‘idiot’ (http://kwenu.com/publications/abubakar_adamu/dariye_suspension.htm & http://lagosforum.com/comment.php?NR=1129) But I will be the first to support James for his personal opinion on the tarnished man and he in return will do same. That is democracy, differences of opinion is not personal. President Olusegun Obasanjo was vindicated to suspend Dariye and I was right to pray for nemesis to catch up with him for taking peaceful Plateau State into chaos. ‘Britain Can Arrest Dariye’ a report by Emmanual Onwubiko (Abuja) and Isa Ibdulsalami (Jos) of The Guardian posted on Internet dated 20/03/05: Joshua Dariye is now a wanted Person declared by the British Authority and can be arrested by the Interpol (International Police) and is also banned from travelling to the USA.
Many may empathise with what; Madiba (Nelson Mandela) went through and still came out smiling and can crack some funny jokes and chill-out in his exotic shirts. Since many of Nigerians ‘leaders’ are making life more miserable to average Nigerians, a smile is natural and makes you a human, after all.
Nigeria is blessed and gifted with good critics and analysis, free of charge to those in power and authority. In the madness of Nigeria, I take consolation on sensible writings of people like Reuben Abati, Mohammed Haruna, Max Gbanite, Paul Mamza, Gani Fawehinmi and wisdom of Professor Chinua Achebe and others. Their wise and educated advices are laugh at or ignored. Because they do not ask for a favour from those in authority and can give their views straight without fear. The leaderships listen to the advice of those who have their own hidden agenda or may gain personal benefits over other Nigerians.
If I, a small-man, with less power or authority is free to criticise or joke about the most powerful in the World but cannot even criticise a Nigerian big-man with a bad haircut without fear for my life. What sort of democracy are we learning and practicing? Nigerian big-men, be human: Take criticisms in good faith as a sign of correcting a mistake, only Allah (God) is beyond criticism – even that some people blasphemy God most of the time without threat to their lives from anyone.
Abubakar Adamu is a Transport Logistician and works with Virgin Trains in UK. (email@example.com)