Leaders on Autopilot?


So simple-minded are men and so controlled by immediate necessities, that a prince who deceives always finds men who let themselves be deceived”... And Niccolo Machiavelli

Ever wonder why it is easier for the executives to be misled? Because many are on autopilot! A man rode to power on the back of the popularity of his party and finally clinches the seat after rigorous campaigns and systematic rigging, intimidation by thuggery, political shenanigans.

During campaigns, they clearly identified nation’s problems and the areas they wanted change and improvements. They identified their opponents' weaknesses and their own smartness.

With these weapons, they printed campaign jingo both to accentuate opponents' flaws and to promote their own (blurred) vision. They promised by their grandmothers' 32 brown teeth that they will deliver and then went on to narrate how they are closely related to us. Some said they had no shoes, others said they were broke at 40 and had to walk naked fetching firewood or selling kunnu on the streets before they had their break. Some told us of their stories of Taxi-driving businesses and how they suffered before having their breaks. And there were those who had to collapse during campaigns; and when everyone thought they were dead had to resurrect like Lazarus through a single phone call to their hospital bed. And there were those who had their aides killed and their sodomised body exposed only to receive sympathy votes. Yet, there are those who had to play tribal and religion arm-twisting before they could become the toast of the media. I forgot those who had to employ pen-pushers to launder their image and projected deceptive outward image of humble, caring leaders.

All the same, some folks had it better than others. They muscled their ways to power .They practically spent all the electioneering campaigns navigating from one controversy to another. Those who are busted had to give way while the lucky ones trudged along until the electorates rigged them to power. The controversies made it almost difficult for sane people to ask rational questions. Instead, people were forced to be preoccupied with trifles. . He is our son, he worships in our temple etc. Very few had time to ask for their programmes and how they plan to execute them.

Once in power, leaders soon realize that they have over-promised. They either have underestimated the magnitude of the problems or they are so confident that the Bretton Wood miracle workers will have answer to their quests. Now they are running out of tricks and excuses. Not that they didn't know before but they actually conned the people into believing they are the messiahs that will change their lives overnight.

The leaders on autopilot appoint ministers, special advisers, senior special advisers, Special Advisers to Special Advisers. Executive Errand officer, Senior Special Errand Officer to Oga Kpata-kpata and Oga Kekere. Not done with that, they will create committees on every conceivable problem and organise public hearings where professionals and experts are invited to provide clue(s) to how to make them perform what they were elected to do. This also includes many International Conferences and foreign trips in search of investors and experts.  Not satisfied, they will organise an all expense paid trip from tax payers' money to understudy developed and forgotten nations. To see how those were able to develop and solve their internal problems. Executives will go with their wives and spin doctors. The legislators will go with their errand boys and bodyguards.

At the end of the day, they return home and settle down to work. They look at the calendar, one year is already gone. They spend their first anniversary blaming the past leaders for the national rot and promising to deliver soon. They spend their second anniversary cajoling and manipulating angry citizens whose economic situation continue to worsen and who are bearing the brunt of the misrule. In between these, they had to confront the opposition waiting for and actually working toward government’s failures so that they can be favoured in the next poll.

The search for someone to blame is always successful, so the saying goes. And this is not an exception. First it was poverty. Next it was citizens' impatience, and next it will be militants disturbing them, and finally, the opposition and media will become the scapegoats. Anybody blameable will receive the blame except those leaders on autopilot. They have been subconsciously programmed to see nothing wrong in themselves.

The fight between the opposition and the ruling party soon take the centre stage, with more and more people getting involved in the maddening crowd. The activists and public analysts stepped in. It is now a war of the grammarians, the battle of the cunning and the rants of ethnic and religious bigots. Oh, how did I forget to mention the sycophants and psychopaths?  Yet, the people are suffering. The people on the streets are feeling the pains of inaction and wrong actions while those they entrusted to take care of them are feeding fat.

The third anniversary is here and soon, it’s time for second term campaign. Both ruling and opposition parties stepping up their efforts and frustrating one another. Delusional government soon forgot what it was elected to do. Contracts and awards are made and given to the cronies and those willing to do business with them. (Willing oppositions and public analysts ready to pay allegiance to them are favoured). Emergency road constructions, palliative projects are evolved to assuage the pains of the poor and wailing masses Amnesty packages are prepared for criminals to keep them quiet. Recharge cards and one day seminar with maximum refreshment and customised shirts are given out to jobless graduates looking for jobs. Grinding machines, motorcycles and Aso Oke are given to the people in the lower rung of economic ladder, especially the Market men and women. It is called poverty alleviation 101.

Pictures are taken and the suffering masses compete with one another to take pictures with the politicians. They wear plastic smile, and shed crocodile tear of joy as they sing their hearts out and clap their hands to hail their oppressors. They feed on hope and the leaders know this very well. They are made to look smarter despite the evidence to the contrary. Brainwashed! They subconsciously descend Learned Helplessness!

And the fourth year: election year. Those pictures and videos of cosmetic (?) achievements are all on display to show the citizens that they have achieved something. More thugs and assassins are now empowered to go after stubborn opposition and critics. Unfriendly media houses begin to lose patronage and those friendly ones get adverts and brown envelopes in the dark hours. More creative writers are also empowered. They masqueraded as concerned citizens.”I am neither a jagbatanti nor jeun-soke party member. I am a concerned citizen. I think so and so have delivered and he must be supported for second term. His fat cheeks were because he developed swollen mouth. His pot belly is because he drank too much pure-water. He has been fasting since he came to power. I swear by the Special Ogogoro, he only eat once a day and work 24/7. The tasks ahead can't be accomplished in four years. Bla bla bla.”  And soon, it will turn out later that he was only publicising his availability for future political appointments!

The leaders on autopilot ride on these waves of confusion. They intensified their efforts toward re-election. Their opponents are humiliated anyway because Naira passes Naira. If you can't beat them, disqualify them or expose their dark pasts. 

And the citizens? They are just like passengers, so much in hurry to reach their destination that they didn't check the sanity of the man driving them at full speed on a bumpy road. Only the bumps and the jerk reminds them there in someone else’s auto-mobile.

God help them if the mad man doesn't crash the vehicle. Even if he does, the survivors will learn little lesson as they will sooner replace the drunken driver with another; sorry a more mentally deranged driver. They care only about their destination (mostly calibrated by the mirage ahead) and they care not about the path to it or who is in charge of their lives. At most, they will do a background check on his tribes and religion, his ability to blow grammar like football whistles, his certificates and his long list chieftaincy titles. I forget they will also look at his ability to floor Christiane Amanpour in a debate on Live CNN programme.

The citizens regale themselves with deceits; the leaders become experts at fabricating hope and nourishing the poor of their hunger for quick fix. Elections come, elections go, the certified misfits win again. And this time, no one can call them to account. They will either try backdoor third term or impose their lackeys or another misfits, who will take the people through another round of drama. What kind of leadership will they bequeath the nation? Leaders on autopilot!

And Niccolo Machiavelli must have had these people in mind when he said: “So simple-minded are men and so controlled by immediate necessities, that a prince who deceives always finds men who let themselves be deceived. “  

Time to start wearing thinking cap...

I am @isqilnajim on twitter

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