Vanity asks the ques-
tion- is it popular?
Conscience asks the
question-Is it right?
-Martin Luther King Jnr.
Very recently, I stumbled on a docu-
ment where Harvard Political Professor,
Samuel Huntington, in an address at
Taipei, on August 1995, contrasted
Singapore leadership model with the
democratic model in Taiwan.
He smartly summed it up this way;
‘the freedom and creativity that Pres-
ident Lee has introduced in Taiwan
will survive him but the honesty and
efficiency that Senior Minister Lee
has brought to Singapore are likely to
follow him to his grave. Warning that
authoritarianism may do well in the
short term, but the experience clearly
shows that only democracy produces
good government over a long haul.
Significantly, neither Taiwan nor
Singapore is the interest of this piece
as I cannot expressly explain the exact
side of the divide (authoritarian or
democratic) we are presently situated as
However, the awareness of the
inherent consequence of allowing au-
thoritarianism to thrive on our shores
as warned above should form useful
lessons for those making life in Nigeria
quoting Thomas Hobbs, become nasty,
brutish and short.
From Sheik Ibrahim EL-Zakzaky
protracted detention in contravention
to court directives to violent protest
by his followers which left so many
people dead and embarrassed the
government. From Omoleye Sowore
call for revolution and clamp down on
peaceful protesters by a combined team
of security forces, to the intensified
mindless killing of innocent Nigerians
by the member of the Boko Haram
sect and other criminal elements yet to
be identified. What about hunger, and
Apart from these happenings expos-
ing the consequence of our past failures
which have erupted in the present
uncontrolled experiment with atten-
dant risks and indefinite outcome, it is
obvious that nations currently going
through civil wars are now safer than
Regrettably but expected, in the face
of all these unpalatable experience, sup-
porters of government justified the ac-
tions and argues that when crisis blows
up, there isn’t time to plough through
hundreds of pages of the constitution to
know what the rule says, as crisis incites
anxiety and conditions of high stress-
forgetting that war which is considered
legal violence has its rules.
That not withstanding, the truth as
we all know is that what is happening is
but governments’ habit of disregard for
Precisely, with this myriad of soci-
opolitical contradictions which have
conspired directly and indirectly to give
the nation unenviable tag of a people in
grief, no nation-best typifies a country
in dire need of peace, justice, equity and
equality among her various sociopoliti-
cal groups than Nigeria.
Why this calls for concern is that
before the nation enthroned democra-
cy on 29th May 1999, political pundit
had always accused the military of
being intolerant, immature, corrupt,
unserious, unpatriotic and tribalistic.
But today, the political classes of our
land have acquired these qualities and
went ahead to become a tool for other
national vices which currently domi-
nates as well as threaten the country.
What is more? Less hope for the
As to factors fueling this appaling
situation, there is no single answer to
it, but there are possible explanations.
First, close to the entrenched distrust
of the political leadership and inability
to manage diversity which character-
izes our sphere is the national vexation
by the people who once lived in com-
fort and loved to stay alive as life was
never a burden.
But today, life in their estimation
has become a burden with the cost of
living comparatively high and national
security now a problem, our value
system which used to be sound has
gradually been eroded and people no
longer have value for the sanctity of
The country is currently a direct
opposite of what it used to be.
As succulently captured by one writ-
er; recently, in Ogun State, Nigeria, a
life was brutally taken without a court
trial, simply because of broken wind-
screens. This is very instructive against
the background that on 17th July this
year, a 32-year-old Nigerian destroyed
several vehicles at the High Commis-
sion office in London and is alive today
to answer charges. If he had done what
he did in Abuja or any other town,
he would be long dead and Nigerians
would have rationalised his death’.
From this account, it is certain that
we are a country where vanity as
against conscience rules. And it’s not
only in contrast with what obtains in
developed nations but provides an-
swers to why the current administra-
tion promotes democracy everywhere
except where it hurts.
Unquestionably, this is happening
because as a nation, we have developed
a ‘culture’ of lawlessness and practice
leadership model that no longer appre-
ciates people who speak their minds,
without fear or hesitation. But honours
all that tell leaders that they are right
all the time, while deep in their hearts,
they have another opinion.
This fact has consequentially created
an atmosphere where constructive
debate is no longer valid, deferring po-
litical ideas perceived as destructive to
the nation’s interest and the masses call
for national dialogue seen as a challenge
to the leaders.
Lamentably also, while other nations
view their citizens as the most precious
asset and most important factor in the
progress of their countries, here, human
life makes little or no meaning.
But of all these, the most worrying
aspect of the narrative is that while
other nations see leadership as posses-
sion of abilities for making successful
decisions based on deep consideration,
consultation and research, here leaders
search for consensus as an alternative
to moulding consensus. And enforce
national unity instead of its promotion.
It has not only led to the destruction
of social infrastructures relevant to
a meaningful and acceptable level of
social existence for our people but pro-
pelled Nigerians to conclude that there
is something deeply troubling about
leadership in Nigeria.
In my views, this assertion may not
be wrong looking at the government’s
approach to handling issues, their dis-
dain for facts and rule of law, and lack
of curiosity for new information that
might produce a deeper understanding
of problems and policies.
What the handlers of Mr President
failed to remember is that so many
nations are great today because their
leaders promoted a tradition of educa-
tion combined with social and political
actions among their citizens that ensure
sincere national unity.
Finally, aside from studying the
actions of the eminent men, to discover
the reasons for their victories, for us to
move forward, we must learn to protect
the robbed and punish the robber.