- Processes Are Interwoven With Institutions In A Democracy
BY KANMI ADEMILUYI
SINCE this is the season of unending pilgrimages to London by Nigeria’s political establishment it behooves us to learn some things of benefits from ongoing events there.
It is an indication of the strength of a democracy in contradistinction to a “semi-democracy” (in the churlish description by The Economist of Nigeria’s post -1999 ‘nascent’ democracy) that a sitting prime minister was forced out of office and replaced in the testimony of inter-party democracy without blood on the streets and all hell let loose.
Those for whom London has become a second home will do well to look at the operations of a real political party as opposed to our booty-sharing special purpose vehicles
The difference is clear. The Conservative party anchored on a philosophical base had institutions to use as shock absorbers to steady the party after the sudden stepping down of a prime minister who is also the leader of their party.
In the subsequent leadership contest to replace prime minister Boris Johnson the candidates ran on clear ideological lines.
The programs they offered provided choices as to the interpretation of the future for both the party and the country. It was a celebration of the plurality necessary in a democracy.
The public was presented with a choice and not an echo chamber of vacous postulation centered on the banal such as “emilokan” and secondary school student war songs such as “when he sweet us he de pain them”.After a bruising contest the public had a good idea of what is to come and the party as a political formation remained intact.
The stark difference cannot be glossed over. Both the United Kingdom and Nigeria are facing severe economic upending. In the case of Nigeria it is a dire situation. The responses are however different indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the political parties. In the United Kingdom the parties are responding with detailed diverging costed alternatives. In spite of the differences in opinion the conventional wisdom converges on the realisation that “ it’s going to be hard”.
Nigeria’s booty-sharing special purpose vehicles are not preparing the minds of the electorate for a very difficult transition period ahead. This is not surprising; they can hardly ask the electors to make the sacrifices they are not prepared to make.
The absence of policy options-based discourses and “alternative perspectives “ with months to go to a presidential is profoundly disturbing. It bodes ill for the future.
Worthy of note is the commendable speed with which the new prime minister Liz Truss has put together a new cabinet and ministerial team. It is to be hoped that whoever wins the presidential election in February 2023 will similarly reflect “the fierce urgency of now”. Otherwise, we are toast. Setting aside ideological differences the new ministerial team in the UK at least on paper presents the best and the brightest of a generation. It is to be hoped that we learn from this and stop glorifying mediocrity. The team also reflects the diversity and is younger. The team is clearly in tune with the present fourth industrial revolution and the need to prepare for the future.
The future is all important. Unfortunately for Nigeria this is precisely where the crisis lies. The political economy is based on the collection of rents, on consumption as opposed to production. To nail the coffin the political formations are fixated on the distribution of spoils and have neither ideological leanings not philosophical base.
It makes one in despondency to recall the eternal admonition of the sadly departed erudite analyst and public intellectual intellectual Pini Jason that “ we have set the ceiling of our standards so low in this country (Nigeria) that you have to crawl to get out of the room”. Written over two decades ago the observation of Pini Jason still rings true.
It is to be hoped that in their frequent junketing to London the establishment might pause and think about recent events in that country. Don’t go holding your breath though it will be rash to place a bet on it.