By Joseph Edgar…
What does he represent to the national body politic? This is the question and, at first glance, would be easy to answer. But upon deeper reflection, you begin to see the complexity and confusion that pervades national discourse.
Today’s Nigeria throws up a certain challenge- the futility of democracy as depicted in the ‘one man one vote’ mantra. Much as we yearn for the continuous entrenchment of democracy, its inability to throw up our best minds continue to stare all right thinking watchers In the face.
Pat Utomi represents the intelligentsia. The middle road that comes to the table with the clarity and depth needed to tackle the seemingly intractable changes that face nation building. With this outlook, comes the naivety that reduces the kind of penetrative politics required to secure the mandate hence falling on the very pillars of democracy that we all wish and yearn for.
One man one vote is the Achilles heel of principled centred leadership, especially in a system of wide spread ignorance and illiteracy. By the time you mix this up with the poisonous chemicals that come with ethnicity and religious bigotry you begin to sense the frustration of people like Utomi at the system.
Let me be a little bit more instructive. You throw an Utomi in the dense jungle that is Mokwa or Ilaje in seedy Lagos to campaign to the teeming army of near literates or those the system have left aside. He immediately gets lost in it. He won’t be able to speak their languages, he won’t be able to explain the tough economic policies required to put food on the tables or the health policies that would stop their children from dying. The very things they require to pull them out of squalor would be lost on them since all they can relate to is the immediate but pyric benefit that comes with a Fayose named Stomach Infrastructure or a Tinubu-like stranglehold on their destinies.
This is why some of us have started looking at democracy a little bit closer. Is it really the best for our system where the ignorant, swayed by pedantic echoes are given the power to choose leaders. What kind of leaders would the Oshodi motor park person choose, what kind of leader would the almajiri in the far north choose and what kind of leader would the poor fisherman in the Niger delta choose. Some of us have begun to see this democracy –one man one vote as a barrier to true leadership for only the charlatans who understand the language of the down trodden will continue to work the system for their selfish benefits.
So I hear slight rumours of Utomi’s pending push at the Delta State seat and one begins to wonder how he will fare in a state as turbulent as Delta. How will he work the creeks and engage the warlords who only understand blood money and turf battles. How will his theories resound in their minds when all they have known or have heard from their leaders is the need to kill and maim to maintain hegemony.
I pity him, for he is a good man. Well learned and can certainly deliver the goods, but will he be given the chance. Won’t he be swallowed by the avarice that is tugboat politics in the delta? Same can be adduced at the centre. Where strong intellectually backed candidates fall on the wayside allowing demagogues a run on the system, building a complex system of rent and booty sharing amongst loyalists and acolytes.
Utomi represents the sad part of democracy. The fall back of a system introduced by the Greek with the sole aim of giving out general suffrage but whose success was based on a veritable tool of public enlightenment ensuring the continuous debate and dialogue but certainly deformed in our dark system.
The only solution I see here for Utomi and his ilk is to go back to the Greeks and borrow the Trojan horse strategy. Join the fray, secure the support of the demagogues, convince the Manchurian leaders and watch them take you to victory and then forget a second term as you begin to lay down solid structures while having an enforcer watch your back keeping the goons at bay.
That is the only solution I am seeing from where I am seated this morning. Trying to build an independent structure, taking them headlong would only lead to the usual drive in the desert. It can be done, just brace up and join them.
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears
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