What Manner of Democracy “Dividends”?

Nigeria is a land of hypocrisy. The tragedy does not end there. Her people are so used to hypocrisy that they cannot face truth, so they remain un-free. There is hypocrisy in the home, church, mosque and in government offices. We – or rather or leaders – celebrate everything from the first 100 days in office to Democracy Day. Even this year, the ritual is not going to be different from the usual vainglorious self-adulation of individuals in power and their “fellow patriots” who are anxiously loud about the “achievements” of “my government”. But why is the term “dividends of democracy” so abused in this land?

The reason is not farfetched. It is hypocrisy. And it has reached suffocating levels in government affairs. Some of the “achievements” we will hear this year in the states include the construction of an “ultramodern” or a “befitting” or “the best” Government House by “my regime”. It will then be the duty of state radios to “enlighten” the “good people” of the state on the “benefits” of the project. With a “brand new” Government House, the governor and his cabinet are better positioned to “deliver dividends of democracy” that will “impact” the lives of the people. Meanwhile, the “cost” of these Government Houses is far more than their worth. And it has become a strain of madness ravaging the states where every governor that comes to office wants to construct for himself a “befitting” structure called “Government House”. Yet we have in these states, school children who study under angry teachers whose salaries are owed for months. Again, how does a “modern” or even an ancient Government House benefit the jobless vagabonds who also are legitimately entitled to these resources?

Another “dividend” of democracy articulated loudly at both the state and national levels is appointment into political offices. We hear every day, thank-you messages on the state radio appreciating “our able governor” for “appointing our sons and daughters” into “his government”, thereby, bringing “dividends” of democracy closer to the people. Quite clearly, this is nonsense! To function, a government must constitute human beings. These human beings are appointed to serve and while they may have some privileges as a result, the only benefit the people get from them is the quality of service they deliver. Their appointment in itself does not constitute any dividend for the masses. This will be the case however, if these people are not appointed to work, but to partake in “sharing” or “cutting” the “national cake”, and redistributing it among “my people”. And even if that were the case, how many “good people” of “my constituency” can have access to this “dividend”?

In at least one of the states, the governor’s “good relationship” with the president which enables him to “follow the president” even where other governors cannot, is also “dividend” of democracy. What I understand from this point is that it is a deliberate and not very wise way of promoting the governor’s “image”. But the prophets of this act do not seem to know that the average citizen does not even take pride in the “connections” the governor has. No doubt, these connections will not translate into good governance. If anything, they will lead to more wasteful financial expenditures on the part of the state. It however goes to show how desperate these gentlemen are, to be seeing as doing something. They seem to suffer from a tormenting emptiness which they only attempt to cover by their loud and substance-less noise, made all in the guise of providing “dividends” of democracy.

Also accompanying the “celebration” of the “dividends” of democracy in the states will be an unsolicited “advice” to the “good people” of the state to “shun opposition politics” and embrace the “government in power.” Opposition is both decried and denied. If the sun does not rise early enough, “elements within the opposition” must know something about it! Complain about non-payment of your salary and you sure are on the way to becoming a “disgruntled politician”. Even medical students whose programme has been intolerably delayed, risk being “used by the opposition” to cause “disaffection” and “confusion”. What manner of democracy is this that does not encourage freedom of expression? Why are our God-sent “servants” so seemingly allergic to fresh ideas?

The most hypocritical roles of all will be played by the state radio or television. We are going to hear of hurried “completion and commissioning” of various “mega projects” including renovated nursery schools, repaired culverts and repainted market stalls. Meanwhile, individuals seeking political favour will seize the moment to, “on behalf of the good people” of their local government areas, ministries, state assemblies, universities, churches, mosques or nursery schools, congratulate “His Excellency” on this “great” occasion of Democracy Day. Then, basking in the euphoria of fake glory, the “chief servant” of “our” state will “give account” of his stewardship. “My government” carried out a “youth empowerment” scheme in which university graduates were “empowered” in skills acquisition in areas like shoe repairs, recharge card selling and cloth sewing. All of these are done because of “my government’s vision” of creating job opportunities for our “teeming youth” who are “leaders of tomorrow”.

At the national level, security will be top on the agenda with the federal government promising to “crush” Boko Haram in three months. The honorable ministers of the federal republic have already been “giving accounts” of their one-year service to the nation. In the area of education, the president is “surprised” that 60% of university teachers do not have a PhD. I also expect him to express “sadness” that more candidates who are qualified by this year’s UTME will have no place in the nation’s tertiary institutions in spite of his “presidential” intervention by ordering the establishment of nine new universities. He will express “satisfaction” at “my government’s” progress on power sector “reforms”, reinstating “our commitment” to reaching the target of 6000MW. Now remember that Late Umaru Yar’Adua promised 10 000MW by December 2009. Today is not November 2010. It is May, 2012! Meanwhile Dr. Jonathan will be silent on the current health workers’ strike just as he was silent last Independence Day about the ASUU strike that had kept “our young ones” at home for too long.

In the end, crowds of hungry and expectant citizens will nearly suffocate themselves under the sun, listening to promises of delivering “dividends” of democracy to them in the next 100 days. And Bishops and Imams will fall over each other, delivering sermons and “offering” prayers as though trying to wish God Almighty a “happy” Democracy Day “celebration”.

16 thoughts on “What Manner of Democracy “Dividends”?” by Anzaa Msonter (@sontel)

  1. They have come again; bad mouthing my country.

    We have heard your version sha

    1. @kaycee. This “my country” is not yours alone. I equally mean well for her. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother my self writing about it. You have to accept however, that the hypocrisy-inspired leadership we have especially at the state level, is intolerable and not indicative of a nation that is serious about true development. Thank you.

  2. i don tire for this endless complaints jare. leave ebele make e dey do as e deem fit.

    1. You don tire abi? No be your fault sha. Na so me I tire for this noise wey them dey make every time say na Democracy Day, Independence Anniversary etc. The noise . . .Na it dey make me vex.

  3. The reason I don’t like discussing Nigeria: endless sea of complaints.

    When will the solutions be discussed and effected?

    1. @Seun-Odukoya. The solutions do not need be discussed. They need be implemented. And the beginning is to admit that we have a problem. But what you see these gentlemen doing is to attempt to cover up the problems we have, paint a false picture of progress where there is none and refuse to put in place transparent and decisive actions to address the fundamental issues. What this does is that it deletes any confidence that the citizenry might have had in the leadership.


  5. we can talk and talk and talk and complain but nothing will ever be done. we are in a country where the older people are wicked, heartless and very evil. the youth have no voice and do not even wish to. i wonder wat the way out is.

    1. @moskeda. I agree with you. The way out is to become a voice yourself, even if you are alone. When others swallow this gross deception and hypocrisy in the guise of democracy “dividends”, what is your attitude like? Do you join them since you cannot beat them? We have an obligation to stand up for truth and sincerity. If we do, a time will come when individuals lost in self-deception will look up to us for leadership. We must become the conscience of the nation. Thank you.

  6. the dividend of democracy for this year is the rude, insensitive move by broda Jonathan when he unceremoniously changed the name of a great institution to its new identity without consideratioin of those at the receiving end – pls broda jonathan let the status quo remain, we have other places that could be used to immortalize MKO. Thanks

    1. I see. Someone thought he might as well rename the country to China. Then we would have new names. I for instance, will become Jianx Hu!

  7. sambright (@sambrightomo)


  8. It’s not by article. We don hear/read.

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