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Demonstrate democracy now or quit trying

Published by The Nation on Sun, 22 Sep 2019


It is a true axiom that we learn most through experience. For example, by experience, I have since learnt not to initiate any conversation with a snake, scorpion, or bees. They have very little tolerance for English. Once I tried to reason with a scorpion and came away with a nasty sting resulting in screams that could be heard for miles. Through experience, I have also learnt that my dog, or any dog, can only take this much taunting. Hurl sticks at them, they can take; but hurl abuses at them and out comes their weapon of single destruction: the nip. Nah, nah, I dont want to regale you with the tales of the so many nips that have come out of those four-legged things. By far the most important lesson I have learntno its not quite the most but it nears itso far through experience is that you never, just never, leave your favourite pot of stew on the stove and pick a call from your favourite friend. The two favourites never mixa little like introducing your favourite friend to another favourite friend. Youre the common denominator and theyd both rather talk only to you. Im sure you know Im really talking about the stew.Life, you find, is full of little lessons, if you would only learn them. I have been told endless times by the maintenance officer in my house to always look out for things in the car before zooming off: do the tyres look normal'; what is the fuel gauge reading'; is the oil screaming at you change me, change me', and another long list of things. Well, I think he has since learnt that the only item on that list I am able to cram into my over-filled head is really the one about the fuel gauge, and that too came from the experience of finding that it is possible for cars to stop in the middle of nowhere and refuse to go further. Before that experience, I honestly never suspected cars to be capable of treason.Just the other day in May, we celebrated the national democracy day, and now, we are learning that the world is celebrating it too. Now, what am I to make of thisthat democracy is that important to the world' Going by its ideals, I would say, yes. But going by its practice, I would say, naaaah. Just look at its ideals: a government chosen by the people themselves and expected to be accountable to the people; a government imbued with internal checks and balances; a government deliberately purposed for good things for the people. If democracy was such a good thing and half the world is going for it, how come then that the world is in such a sorry state' How come we the people are always so short-changed' How come I have so much to complain about' How come all these how comes'The reason is not so far-fetched: the way it is practised. Just look around the world and tell me, which democracy is really working at full capacity' What in truth do people get when they go for democracy' For democracy, most people get governments of people who have no idea what to do with their mandate, like watching monkeys on trees. Now, you know what those are, dont you' Monkeys are that breed of animals that deftly move around the world, your legs, and the treasury with incredible nimbleness. They generally do not do any work, eat voraciously, are forever picking out lice and are attracted to shiny stuff. Dont they just remind you of a group of people we know so well in Nigeria'Honestly, we just cannot write enough about Nigerian politicians interpretation of democracy. Going by their antics, I sometimes believe they have never even heard the word, let alone what it means. You can certainly say about them they have got the wrong end of the stick, alright. Now, lets examine their work ethics. I have always wanted to trail a Nigerian politician on his/her typical day just to find out what their work ethic looks like; just that dear reader, nothing else. Failing that, I am left to my imagination. I am therefore seriously tempted to believe that most politicians days are filled with anything but work. The men get busy on little things and the women among them get busy on littler things and wellshopping. Just look around you. How many areas of Nigerian life have been impacted by this group of people' We have asked this question before, yet no answer has been forth coming.Listen till I tell you, the voracious appetite of politicians is sure staggering. Funny thing, I am thinking they consume all in the name of democracy. In my town, presently, a certain party chieftain is said to be in the process of buying up an endless number of properties, and all within a spate of a few months of ascending a particular throne in the party. And the country is paying for everything. I honestly do not know what they want the rest of us to do: knock our heads against our puny brick fences while they keep acquiring' I believe one of the things this country needs is a law that limits this particularly sickening, indiscriminate property ownership. Sadly, that is one thing I know this breed of politicians will not get round to. They are much too busy acquiring.Well, for one thing, democracy gets politicians busy picking out lice, mostly from their own breed, (smile) just like monkeys. Have you seen the way these people have been going at each other in this country' If they are not busy inanely counting votes of no more than thirty-five upside down, then they are busy chasing each other across the pages of newspapers. If they are not busy hacking each other down with machetes, they get down on the hack job of literally picking out lice from the deep folds of their agbada and babanriga. And the serious business of governing' If you dont know, that is the serious business of governingbringing down the opponent.All of that rigmarole of playing politics is to one end really (and this is so hard for me to write): to acquire the shiny stuff that life has to offer. This includes acquiring million dollar personal houses at home and abroad, shiny new cars for wives and girlfriends and friends of girlfriends (somehow, that never gets to me), shiny new islands in Dubai and environs where they think the long arm of the law and, God forbid, that of God Himself, cannot reach. All those shiny stuff allow them to bring up their children in the opulence of a workless environment where those childrens heads are filled with nothing but how to pilfer more from the world in greater style ofguess, opulence! There, was that so hard'We need to demonstrate that we understand democracy now or quit trying. Clearly, in the hands of this present breed of politicians, it is patently endangered. In itself, doubtless, it is one of the noblest pursuits of man. Democracy allows government to be unobtrusive and minimally involved in mans daily life as it quietly directs national activities for altruistic goals such as building structures for the benefit of mankind. Democracy is worth pursuing because it allows man to reach that basic and minimum level of life required for the pursuit of happiness. If only we did not have all these politicians standing in the way of our pursuit of democratic happiness. Now, what do we do' Just what do we do'***First published 15thSeptember, 2013 to celebrate Democracy day. Unfortunately, nothing has changed.
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