Political Elite Demilitarization: Recipe for the Advancement of the Nigerian Democracy
Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe
Wars happen between Countries; between communities; between clans; between families and between individuals. The longer the wars, the more “innovations” in weaponry and armoury, since much thought can be given to how to create deadlier weapons and become more efficient in the arts of war. In the end, it becomes difficult to rehabilitate ex-militants with a hangover of terrorism developed over the period of the arm-conflict, for an opponent.
To rebuild a society ravaged by wars and its corollaries – hunger, disease, illiteracy, penury, insecurity etc, one must need get beyond “suing for peace” but in mind demilitarization.
The aftermath of a war must be managed efficiently to desensitize the citizens of the pain and pangs giving rise to the conflict and war. Having experienced “militrocracy” in the past is like a common innocent citizen cut up in the cross-fires of war. Our elites are like those just rescued from a war. The handover remains potent. It is difficult for life to have a meaning unless they undergo some psychological therapies.
A prisoner who had a long term sentence and now released needs some rehabilitation to fit into society he/she left a long time ago. In fact, some ex-convicts never get rehabilitated by the correctional institutions from which they served their jail terms. Some inmates actually learn new behaviours. A few are lucky to get converted to morally recreating religions in prisons while others become hardened, and on release, are prepared to do worse. He may be out of the prison yard but the prison itself may still exist in him. An ex-convict therefore needs a “de-prisonization” therapy; a psychological “detoxification”. The Nigerian political elite needs a demilitarization because of an artificial normal that now is, but alien to true democracy.
A case was made for Chibuk Girls freed by Boko Haram for rehabilitation before releasing them to their respective families. This is because, the lot that happened to them at the kidnappers den needs to be purged from them. Not just the medical issues. Thus, they needed a psychological “detoxification” and purging, or “de-radicalization”. By and large, the erstwhile young virgins of yesterday have been made to see multiple rapping as normal”.
When the military raped. Nigerians in a constitution that lies against itself with “We the People of Nigeria do hereby give ourselves this constitution…” even when the ethnicities were oblivious of the provisions of the draft, new office holders have been swearing to uphold the tenets of this “forced down the throat” constitution. But, like many patriots have admitted, “Nature avoids vacuum” hence, we must continue with what we have until something better comes. When and how; no body knows. But that fraudulent constitution by a kitchen cabinet is theretofore referred to as The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, the abnormality has become normality. If you breach it, you go in for it. But is this the true model of democracy? You can see clearly that Nigeria has in place quasi-democratic institutions. Those who operate it needs deliverance. They must deliver themselves from the spirit of quasi-democracy and embrace true democracy.
No time to talk about the federal character issue that defeats meritocracy. A normal democracy is one where merits are supposed to take precedent over quota. Our political elite don’t see any error in this faulty quasi-democratic norms only found in Third Worlds. They can’t even discuss its amendment or a complete repeal. Furniture allowance is more important than that.
Within the same thought frame, an elite that have imbibed a “militarized consciousness” in military regimes and quasi-military democracies, may think themselves to be democrats, when in actual fact they are pseudo-democrats, or mere civilian rulers, with distorted democratic values far to be associated with the decency of pure democracy.
The political class therefore can be regarded as sickly; sick of a virus that had infested it since the days of freedom from the colonial masters.
Whereas they think themselves to be democrats, they manifestly mirror the sentiments and spirit of “militrocracy”.
In a military regime, rulers act with impunity and pride. No court can penetrate their orders and decrees unless the sycophancy of a few aristocrats dwelling with them at the corridor of powers. We still remember the military fiat that created the local governments of today. We could only grumble. And accept same as ” good and fair”. This is the traditional “barrack life”; a style of “obeying the last order”. No one dares question order from above. With the same airs of superiority ministers address their constituencies, with their commanding tones reflecting the spirit of a Comprador in sheer arrogance. Until election time when they attempt to woo the electorate with “eating of roasted corn on their street” – the normalcy of an endless deception.
Those that have experienced denials, repressions subjugation and subduction over time soon learn a lesson that is alien to a free civil society. This, aggression becomes a “new normal” as noncompliance to orders, however obnoxious, are taken almost as mutiny, a reminiscence of a militarized consciousness.
To the political elite in Nigeria, political office holders are “neo-Kabiyesis” that must be prostrated for, paid homepage to, and worshipped. The title of “His Excellency” and “Honourable” that must precede their introduction, imported into the Nigerian method of eulogising office holders, is one of such “kabiyesization”. It is the accordance of a lofty status of a conqueror- albeit, the reification and glorification of an opportunistic “ordinariness”. It is not related to a performance based praise singing. It is a mere empty decoration of a masquerade without any desirable dancing steps, an opium and self deceit of the ordinary people . The elite may have learnt this from the erstwhile monarchical rule which had mutated into the successive military regimes modus operandi. But rather than jettison the behaviour inimical to the democratic spirit, the elite appear to be enjoying the loftiness it creates for them. They wear the coat of a conqueror, the distinguishing disposition of highly tyrannical Emperors.
Thus, the kind of military antecedents and “acculturation” following it on a large scale, for office holders in Nigeria, it can be assumed that it has harboured elements of “garrison rule” or “gangsterism” in which orders are taken and not discussed. Even when discussed, the arrogance with which discussions are handled suggests only one thing – “we are in a better position to decide for you”. ASUU/FG battle succinctly adumbrates this mindset as modern political elites manifest this thought pattern and judgements about ideals.
Sometimes, rather than allow the courts to do their jobs of dispensing justice, some political elites are interested in thwarting or arm-twisting the judiciary for their pecuniary interests. In their thoughts, ” I must have my way”. With it, the democratic spirit dwindles and crumbles.
Modern (Third World) Politicians wants citizens to fear them. Like the barracks that is often guarded and fenced, the political elites often put on a front of “no go area” around them and their premises. They cannot be too familiar with “bloody civilians”. At certain periods in history, soldiers come out in neat uniforms ready to display their parade skills to the admiration of all. A parade ground therefore is where the beauty of soldiers are put up for civilians to “spectate’ upon.
The militarized elites too come out during campaigns to display Naira and Dollars to make the suffering masses think they care so much about their plights, and simultaneously, perfectly conceal any idea that they themselves may be the ones to blame for their poverty and misery.
Soldiers are close to civilians in parades just like the militarized politicians are in campaigns. This is the beauty side of the comparison. But in governance, military style is “authoritarianism”. This is a taboo in a true democracy. There is the opportunity for fair hearing, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of worship etc. But when a supposedly democratic society slides into curtailing of peoples’s freedom, it has started to resemble a military dictatorship.
Thus civilian dictatorship is the tacit resurrection of the “militrocratic spirit”.
The ‘virus” of military interregnum or intervention in politics have left some deposits of a “militaristic consciousness” which manifests in repressions and suppressions. Where these exit, we cannot regard it as a democracy any longer but as mere ‘civilian rule”.
The civilians in power have shown much skills in impunity than “ideas aggregation and meshing”; the decision of one for the consensus of many; top-bottom approach instead of bottom-top approach.
For Nigeria to advance and join the First World in their development strides, she must learn the arts and the spirit of true democracy. Our political elites that are still punitive in utterance and attitude must show that they truly cherish freedom and equality. For it is only in this that the best of us can be harnessed for the good of all.