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The Inanity of “No Vacancy” of Political Positions

Akintokunbo A Adejumo, akinadejum@aol.com

“MAKURDI—the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro has declared ahead of the forthcoming general elections that there would be no vacancy in Aso Rock come 2015. Moro urged all those aspiring for the position of president to jettison the idea and allow President Goodluck Jonathan to compete all the good works he started for the country.” NEWS STORY

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

Mr Moro was informing us predictably and true to type. It is a Nigerian, and also a very African syndrome that officeholders never want to make their seats vacant, despite the fact that those “seats” are transient and not permanent. Africans regard occupying official positions as a right, as a worth to die for or die in; as their own personal success or achievement in life, and hence must not be relinquished to anybody else.

The Nigerian/African officeholder has a monopoly of wisdom, of knowledge, of ability and wherewithal to rule, govern or to carry out that specific job or task. He considers himself the only person qualified or competent to do this onerous task. Ironically and inevitably, they, most of the time always fail at doing the right thing, at doing the job competently or honestly or sincerely or selflessly. Look at our history – almost all of those who have been ruling us since Independence, military or democratic, have had to be forced out. African political history is replete with sit-tight leaders. Those who have unwillingly relinquished their seats always nurse ambitions of comebacks or prefer to hover on the peripheral of power, snapping at crumbs from their inferiors, till they become a nuisance and embarrassment to themselves and their families.

“African leaders have this mentality that they are the saviour and they have the monopoly of ideas, they all steal money for their great-grand-children instead of instituting policies that would effectively take care of their citizens at retirement (instead of pensioners standing on a queue for 5 hours to collect an equivalent of $5 monthly pension). I actually think many of them are staying in power for two reasons, first so that they can hold on to power and the benefits that come with it and secondly, because they need to keep on to the money they have stolen without the fear of prosecution”. Femi Awodele, NigeriaWorld.com, Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Our rulers, federal, states or local, once they get to power by hook or crook, never allow, and in fact, never create vacancies, even after their terms/tenures have expired. They resent succession by some other people or other parties. They abhor true democracy; it does not serve their selfish needs. And hence, if they can’t retain their seats, they will always attempt to influence or replace themselves with their chosen ones, who will cover their iniquities and corruptions. That is their idea of sequential democracy.

This “There is no vacancy in Aso Rock” statement by this Minister, who, while corruptly creating vacancies in the Immigration recruitment tragedy that killed hundreds of our young ones just recently, is as unfortunate, as it is arrogant and typical of political jobbers whose main interest and loyalty is to the person who appointed them and hence, let them have a taste of power. Such taste become permanent to the mouth and becomes difficult to let go.

It is yet another proof that that those in power in Nigeria who like to parade themselves as politicians and democrats know not what true democracy is. In a democracy, there is always a vacancy for any electable position simply because those positions are not permanent; they are to be contested for. That we have turned democracy on its head in Nigeria is no longer news or surprising. We are not cut for it, or if we are, we are not ready for it. There are many factor towards that, and have been exhaustively discussed in many papers and articles.

There is nothing wrong in canvassing for votes to retain your position in a democracy; indeed, it is a very credible and laudable part of the workings of a vibrant democratic system. But when supposed democrats come out and start uttering inanities and arrogant un-democratic statements like this, it makes you wonder that the seats of power are made for these people, and how they come to occupy such lofty and responsible positions in a country as large and informed as this.

This statement, and other similar, if not exact ones, that will be variously and severally made in the states and local governments in the next few months in the run up to the General Elections in 2015, again exposes the lack of decorum, insensitivity and charlatan-ship of our politicians. Some of them will claim to be veterans, but do they really know what politics and democracy are about? We see it in their daily actions, that their own understanding of politics and democracy is mostly warped, uninformed and infused with unbelievable ignorance of what is reality. Their understanding ends with untruths, half-truths, outright lies, propaganda, threats and cheating.

A cursory Wikipedia definition of Politics (from Greek: πολιτικός politikos, meaning “of, for, or relating to citizens”) is “the practice and theory of influencing other people on a global, civic or individual level. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities”

It is hardly necessary here to define democracy again as everybody in the world is conversant with its definition, but then, like earlier stated, it is not surprising to have such statements, and indeed, actions, coming from mediocre, charlatans, political jobbers and opportunists, as it is obvious that we are not practicing the politics or democracy we all yearn, crave and work for.

A charlatan is a person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud. We live in an era of charlatans and mediocrity. Lots of people claiming special knowledge and acumen about how our governance, politics and democracy should be, offer us solutions to our problems or desires. There is really nothing new about charlatanism, and the technology and e-media of today offer seemingly endless new opportunities for charlatans to ply their trade and hence cause confusion.

Some of the characteristics of political charlatans are to demonize their or their principals’ opponents, by making it clear that those who disagree with them are not just mistaken, they are dangerous, ignorant and/or evil or both and that these opponents of their have an agenda that actively seeks to destroy the goodness they offer.

Then a charlatan is a propagandist; they publicize how hateful and evil their opponents are for so grossly and unfairly attacking their principals—but insist that their principals will stand up to their relentless attacks in the name of the greater good.

What these charlatans and mediocre fail to get into their heads is that no position is permanent in life. There will always be a vacancy in any position, be it political or otherwise. In a true democracy, unlike our insane demo-crazy, when the people decide that a vacancy exists as a result of unsatisfactory performance and poor governance of the incumbent, that person must start packing his/her bags and create a vacancy for the next, and hopefully, a better candidate.

However, I can be a little bit sympathetic with this charlatans and propagandists. In most African countries, state houses, like Aso Rock in Abuja, Nigeria, are built like fortresses; mostly designed to keep the ruler away from the ruled, or to protect the (mostly) bad rulers from the anger of their people. Those fortresses are designed and built to intimidate and oppress the ruled/followers, and to empower the rulers and their cohorts and cabals in corruption and misrule and to make them invincible (and perhaps, even invisible).

So the denizens of these fortresses, by the time they spend a few years, start having a sense that it all belongs to them; they alone can rule the country and the world; their acolytes acquire the same mental state of invincibility and power and would not want their principals to ever leave, because if he leaves, they also leave too, leaving all the perks and trappings of power behind them for others to enjoy. They cannot bear to be out of power.

African leaders have this mentality that they are the savior and they have the monopoly of ideas, they all steal money for their great-grand-children instead of instituting policies that would effectively take care of their citizens at retirement (instead of pensioners standing on a queue for 5 hours to collect an equivalent of $5 monthly pension). I actually think many of them are staying in power for two reasons, first so that they can hold on to power and the benefits that come with it and secondly, because they need to keep on to the money they have stolen without the fear of prosecution.

Whether Mr President or Mr Governor wins the next election or not, or because there is no vacancy in his fortress, this much is clear…. Our people need to learn more about the best practices of democracy. The education system should be looking at ways and means of preparing future generations of Nigerians to make electoral choices based on what the nation needs in the long term. For example, the soon to be ex-governor of Ekiti State, Fayemi and others of his ilk should not be stigmatised for being knowledgeable. He and his party were outmanoeuvred by a very sleek, mean and powerful cabal who were bent on acquiring power by all means necessary and available. What we need is for the electorate to understand what the real deal is for all of us.

It will be a holistic endeavour to study the Obama campaign organisation’s template of targeting the youths across the divides, turning them to active participants and stakeholders and channelling their frustrated energy to positive national driver of the wind of change.

Let the Truth be said always!!!


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