Opinion

Tahir Sherriff: Buharism And The Rise of A Dictatorship Styled Democracy

Buharism and the rise of a Dictatorship styled Democracy.

 

Whilst most politicians in Nigeria’s new political dispensation claim the ‘change’ mantle, very little ever does really change. If anything has changed, it is the knowledge that the new administration is deeply committed to fighting corruption, but not as equally committed to maintaining a democratic approach to new problems as they come forward. Democracy isn’t just a game of numbers, but it also isn’t just about how to get into power either. The value of civil liberties, political integration and participation, social justice and a host of other related benefits and challenges that come with democracy cannot be ignored.

 

The democratic values that led some Nigerians in the old and beautiful city of Zaria people to vote for President Buhari did not include the knowledge that members of their families could be locked away without trial, or killed for their religious affiliation. And even though the narrative around corruption has been afloat, and many marvel on the unholy figures that have plagued the news as sums of money stashed away by politicians of the last regime, others remain concerned not of the past, but the potential possibility of a Buhari led Nigeria. A growing and undeniable reality is that although many Nigerians still remain in support of President Buhari, they do so, because no alternative exists, and because failing to do so would be inconsistent with the values that they held when casting their ballots.

 

A more prosperous and corrupt-free Nigeria?

To achieve new ideals of political, social and economic change, a cross-section of the country in 2015 carried out the revolutionary act of voting out an incumbent president and a dominant political party, to elect a man they had rejected three times consecutively. The reward of such rare demonstration however, is still in question, and the questions that surround these expected rewards still loom. Are Nigerians living better off than they were in the previous administration? And will Nigerians be better off after the present administration? Are democratic values embedded in the nations approach to solving its political and economic problems? The first two questions are very core to the values associated with a change in economic direction, because this is where the lives of larger number of the society are concerned.

 

Unlike the right to choose whatever candidate we desire in the political space, we certainly cannot determine economic progress based on the number of people who support Buhari’s economic choices. Our decisions here have to be based on the quality of evidence not the numerical superiority of witnesses on a particular side. Seemingly right thinking humans in the 1930’s voted for a populist leader who would later kill millions of Jews and start a world war. The the current administration, unlike the last has achieved several milestones in the task of restoring social security, Nigeria’s economic policy and development directions remain largely unclear. One senior official at the Ministry of Finance commented on this with the statement ‘When a nation is struggling with simplified economic problems like the price of a ball of tomato, a bag of rice, a litre of fuel and the cost of power, it is prudent for a well-meaning Nigerian to remain silent about the more complex economic hurdles like stabilizing the Naira ratio to the Dollar, or developing economic policies to curb against a budget deficit. That is, if the budget is ever finally approved and released.’

 

Since economic outcomes are webbed into political dynamics, it becomes clearer that if economic prosperity is to be achieved, the mathematical framework of such a possibility will be based on political stability which in itself in hinged on compromise, and such compromise is not reflective in the body language of the sitting president.

 

The undemocratic war against corruption

The question today is not whether Nigeria is winning its war against corruption, its more about how this war is being fought and who are, or will be its victims. In a little over one year, agents of the new dispensation have applied measures against members of the opposition party that are deeply in contrast to the ideological fabric of a democratic society. Tactics of selective utilization of anti-corruption investigations have been used to raise revenue and intimidate political opponents. And in the heat of corruption chants opposition members are shamed, paraded, and denied their rights to fair trial: their counterparts however remain calm and untouched, as though their sins have been washed away by the garments of a new political ideology.

The alleged cases of corrupt property ownership by military personalities like Army Chief of staff general Buratai, the trial of the Senate President by a judge with an alleged pending corruption case, and similar shocking episodes begs the argument that the current Nigerian political elite is representative of special interest groups – so much so that corruption has become far more organized, and deeply institutionalized to a point that political power at this stage is merely the right to wield the corrupt stick.

A primitive analysis suggests that all acts of corruption previous and present cannot be tied to greed alone, nor is it an act only carried out by political office holders. Corruption in Nigeria, in a very Dowden sense, is also the bridge between the haves and the have-nots. If corruption is truly vanquished, the larger population of those who will bear its brunt are still those suffering from its benefit today. The institutional frameworks that should overtime help to fight against corrupt practices some argue should be getting more of the political attention.

 

Where Nigeria could be heading?

For staunch political supporters and those with internet bundles, Nigeria is on a journey to a corrupt free environment that will provide all we need at the end or four (or eight) years of the current dispensation. The political clime will have been rid of the old brigade of political anarchists with insatiable personal interest agenda’s. The new will replace the old, and Nigeria will be an envious Utopia to its regional neighbours.

 

For disgruntled politicians and pro-secession actors, Nigeria will fulfil a CIA dream of political and geographical disintegration, groups like MEND and the Niger Delta Avengers will ally with pro-biafrans to defend their right to statehood, sovereignty and the control of the resources in their clime. Another civil war would break out that would trigger the fashioning of new geographical entities that no longer bear the name Nigeria.

 

To the less politically imaginative ones, old civil servants and the retirees, and the traders in the market places. Those who have seen tyrannical regimes and the rising and falling of decades of hope, their analysis are quite simplified: the nation is heading nowhere, and the old man behind the wheels, is simply confused.

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Article written by Tahir Sherriff

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