In this democracy, we get the government we deserve...

In a State or society where ignorance and prejudice have become cult figures; where tribalism and religion have become the dominant weapons for social reform; and where the good men have sworn loyalty to indifference, the leaders at the top will likely be reflection of the majority who are mostly disorganized and singing discordant tunes... Isqil Najim 

I remember some years back, it was my friend Charles, who first drew my attention to certain anomaly among our people. There was no Goodluck Jonathan at the time as he was an obscured vice president at the time. Nigerians were raining curses on late president Umar Yaradua and saw him as their biggest problem. Charles confronted me in a debate along the line and declared "our leaders are the best of us!"

He went further to offer his reasons some of which I was in agreement with and others, I politely rejected because it would means descending into error of generalizing which I was reluctant to commit. Nonetheless, I conceded that his observation was right. Despite being seen as corrupt leaders, who mismanaged our economy, sponsored tribalism and terrorism, something was so clear...our leaders don't see one another as enemies in the same way our people see one another as enemies and are even ready kill and destroy to prove it.

In those years and months after that debate, I had quietly been observing this trend and always feel so sad to see that, while Charles wanted the best for this country like many others out there, he was absolutely right. Today, things have gone from bad to worse. Thought I am not pessimistic.

Case one: 
It was an open secret that ex-president Obasanjo and his deputy parted as a result of political differences. People were divided, thugs recruited on both sides. Many were injured some died in the run in to the election which the later eventually lost to UMYA.

Some months later, the two were seen dining and winning in Obasanjo home. They even called press conference and told the world there was no enmity between them. Today, the two may be in different political parties, they are friends. Alas, there were some fools among us in graveyards today who were driven to fight for these two men as thugs/supporters and lost their lives in the process.

Case two: 
As recently as we can remember, between the end of last year and early this year; It was reported that the then central bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had fallen out with the president after exposing lack of accountability in petroleum sector of the economy. Nigerians, from south and North were divided, while queuing up behind either party. It was so contentious that the call for breakup of the country was fiercely echoed with many “seasonal” historians digging into the past to evoke memory of civil war. Friends openly breaking bond of friendship over two people who they feel they have to support. Tribalism and religion jingoism were freely deployed. Hate and bitterness became someone people's second skin as they openly displayed their disdain against one another.

Sanusi left his post, and fate changed the course of history as he later became an Emir in Kano City. Still many were so bitter and angry despite not being natives of kano and despite that Sanusi's emirate didn't affect them. As usual, they started digging up history and create tension including fanning ember of war. Outsiders could easily assume Kano Emirate has constitutional superiority over the office of the President. The appointment of Sanusi Lamido as Emir of Kano generated so much heat and unnecessary controversies that again, many people broke chords of friendship over it while some went further and painted the emir as dog, a parasite and all those derogatory words you can think of.

It was even circulated that President Jonathan has been working with Sultan of Sokoto to install a parallel emir. Protest was sponsored but Kano people handled it well just as the late Emir’s sons was matured enough to recognize that his dissent could lead to conflagration in the city. He was matured enough not to play into the hands of people urging him to take up the battle. Had he done this, there would be thousands of people both from Kano and from other states that will fight for him and even cut off their brothers to prove they are "patriotic". Not because they love Kano but because they wanted to punish Sanusi.

Eventually, the dust settled and Sanusi was duly sworn in as the new Emir while king makers and other royal houses put their differences aside to work for the progress of emirates. Meanwhile, the same President Jonathan who was variously reported to be enemy to Sanusi and who was reported to be planning to unseat Sanusi and jail him invited Sanusi to Ramadan breakfast in Aso Rock where the two leaders meet and warmly received one another.

I remember telling a friend some months back during the heated Sanusi-Jonathan debate that at the end of the day, Sanusi and Jonathan will hug one another and will tell the world they were never enemies: That they merely disagreed on issues. That friend of mine was cutting me off for holding opinion that FG should probe the missing 20 billion dollar and should enact law to protect whistle-blowers. I opined that whistle-blowers are good in the system as they would serve the system better than rumour mongers. If someone has a fact on a case of corruption and is allowed to leak it, it will be good for everyone. A proper legislation will be most effective way of handling such thing. And if the person is deemed to have lied, or willfully attempted to tarnish image of someone else, he should be punished. This will prevent people from peddling lies just as it will encourage honest disclosure of hidden corruption.

My friend threw caution into the wind and attacked my personality and branded me unpatriotic. I was called Jonathan hater, a Boko Haram sympathizer blah blah blah. He went further by telling me that if Jonathan has been a Northerner, I would have defended him. He completely forgot that I am not a Northerner. And to make thing complete, he stopped relating with me. I was so happy that he took that last step as I couldn’t understand why any sane human would defend someone he never know, who never know he exist, and cut off his own friend because the later had different opinion in Politics. In my view, such people should be quarantined and sent to lunatic asylum as I am of strong view that something is wrong with them mentally.

Then came the issue of party defection: A once upon a time Minister of Aviation who had variously lambasted President Jonathan and PDP for years and had the reputation of being a careless talker ever since he left power after the failure of Obasanjo third term agenda, went to Aso Rock and emerged with praise-singing of the president. It was like anyone who enters the villa always exits with their brain either removed or reconfigured negatively or positive. He started making some controversial pronouncements which generated heated debates.. Friends raining abuse on friends in their bid to show where their loyalty lies.

The same people who once called him unprintable names after his infamous rant against wife of a late Eastern leader; and his statement that "Lagos is not a no-man-land," are now see him as a hero of sort. And of course, he danced through the whole drama and enjoyed it. I did not fail to notice the negative behaviors of our people. I saw some friends, competing with one another in superiority battle. I saw some who claimed to be independent minded joining PDP overnight(directly or indirectly) just because their idol has joined PDP.

Few Days ago, I woke up to the sad news that a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory lost his son in a ghastly accident in Abuja. And a section of our people were celebrating the death of the 21 year old boy. Some even cursed the minister saying “he is reaping the fruit of his many criticism of Jonathan!” Few hours later, President Jonathan commiserated with him on the lost of his son. I can see that President Jonathan was sincere in his words and action to the Former FCT minister. But what I cannot understand is why our people often overreact to issues which only benefit those who are playing them like ping pong.

A lot of things were running through my mind over these observations and many more. I became more convinced that Charles' theory has been justified beyond measure, though as with every theory, they came with exceptions. But one cannot fault the fact that in today’s Nigeria, our leaders may not be perfect, nor the best in the world, they are, however reflection of the majority of us whose voice are lauded. They are the best among the crops available for us to select within the political class. Every society produce leaders it deserves and Nigeria is no expectation.

While our leaders are united by self-interest and have the maxim “There are not enemies in politics, only common interest(s).” Our people are foolishly divided along ethno-religious barrier, cutting one another into pieces while our leaders are united in their vision and ambitions to political laboratory, where all manners of experiments and theories are conjured to keep us in perpetual servitude. 

In a State or society where ignorance and prejudice have become cult figures; where tribalism and religion have become the dominant weapons for social reform; and where the good men have sworn loyalty to indifference, the leaders at the top will likely be reflection of the majority who are mostly disorganized and singing discordant tunes. The leaders would be confused, disorganized and prone to “Apollo Syndrome' (a phenomenon where teams of highly capable individuals can, collectively, perform badly.)

I love the words of Alexis de Tocqueville: “Society will develop a new kind of servitude which covers the surface of society with a network of complicated rules, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate. It does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” Simply put: “In democracy we get the government we deserve”

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