By Mohammed Adamu
Is the legislature democracy’s necessary incentive or has it become its veritable drag? This, against the backdrop of our current self-serving NASS, we shall explore in the next two weeks.
To effectively summon the legislature for proper inquisition in a democracy, the entire democratic system structure itself, of necessity, must be put on trial. Premised either on the Western-type democracy which is a ritualistic, norms-governed, endless journey –as we all have been witnessing- to nowhere.
Or, say on China’s Asian command or controlled type which is a practical, deterministic journey to achieving the common good.
This fact the late Deng Xiaoping once made a point off in justifying China’s democratic ways when he said to the Americans “it does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse”.
Which is why the Third World nations, especially of Africa must ask the questions: Is the system better than its objective? Should ‘democracy’ be hallowed because of the common good practically attainable by it or should we continue to ennoble it in spite of its inability to deliver its dividend?
Why, for example, should autocracies, monarchies and such other non- democracies elsewhere effectively deliver while here our so-called ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’ remains ‘never-do-well’? Isn’t it true we are immersed not in ‘dividend-yielding’ democracy but we are evidently preoccupied rather by a ritualistic ‘demonstration of craze’ –as the late music maverick Fela would say?
Or ‘crazy demonstration’! If ‘democracy’ were an adventure into demonstrable jocular insanity, haven’t we ventured too much into deeper zones where there may not be promise of healing any longer? Could the political philosopher, Kant, for example be right who wrote that ‘democracy’ is like a swimming pool in which although it is highly recommended that every nation takes a dive, yet any wise nation he warned must ‘stay away if (it is) sure to get drowned!’
Or could Walter Winchell be right, therefore, when he said: “too many people expect wonders from democracy, when the most wonderful thing is just having it!”? Or yet Benjamin Disraeli‘s description of it as a “fatal drollery called a representative government”.
Just like the tragedy fondly called ‘love’, bewailed -in the play ‘As You Like It’- by Shakespeare as “merely a madness and…deserves as well a dark house and a whip as mad men do”; but the reason, he says lovers are not so caged and whipped “is that the lunacy is so ordinary” that those who should do the whipping themselves “are in love!”
We have already been sold into this madness called democracy and the tragedy of it is not that it comes to us raw and indigestible; rather it is that unlike China, we have accepted to gobble it uncooked and without even the benefit of a glass of water by the side! But truth is even behind Washington’s closed doors it has never mattered whether the democratic cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse! Nor is the market any more regulated in Beijing than it is controlled in New York.
Yet, to us is preached an extreme reverence of rule of law and other democratic mantras that engender permissiveness; an absolute freedom of the press that is sometimes self-harming; a democratic electoral process that at best throws up for contest the bad, the worse and the ugly.
Yet, we are assessed in our performance by predators so-called Powers who are content we are trapped in this “fatal drollery called a representative government”; and to whom, therefore, even a wise, provident, un exploitable system will be UNACCEPTABLE if it dares not to be ‘democratic’! Meaning it’s not about the people and the dividend; it is about the system and its amenability to domestic and external exploitation
Thus we must travel the thorny free-market road barefoot more in systemic reverence and adulation of capitalism and free enterprise than in the dividential consummation of the good that they provide.
Nor do we ourselves help matters! Where the Chinese are realistic and the Americans realpolitik, we are content with being Tom Foolish! Our only contribution to democracy is in the gross perversion of it!
We alone have a practical perspective to the definition of democracy that is decidedly dysfunctional, namely: “government off the people, buy the people and far from the people!” And, yet those who should cry or beat the street angrily swinging, have accepted either to suffer patiently or yet go about smiling foolishly!
The cat of our democracy is neither Deng Xiaoping’s black nor white! Ours is what the Hausa despondently call the proverbial ‘kyanwan Lami, (i.e. the timid cat that neither bites nor claws).
Any system of government whether democracy, autocracy or any of the other ‘cracies’ that, in operation, recoils into an ineffectual kyanwan Lami, catching neither rats nor roaches, and unable to either bite or claw, is not worth the democratic trouble. Nor is any doctrinaire economic pathway strewn with thorns and pebbles which leads only to the celebration of the ideal of free market without putting food on the tables, a necessary road upon which to commence the proverbial Chinese ‘journey of a thousand steps!
Truth is: the virtual absence of a rational synthesis between our democracy’s proven un achieving potentials and society’s ever-pressing desire that it achieves so that citizens can draw from the common democratic good, has made an otherwise perfect-looking system –namely democracy- seem drudgy and agonising; -a clear systemic flaw which, unfortunately, provides angelic aura even to otherwise inequitable non-democratic but manifestly benevolent and provident even if essentially despotic, dictatorial or monarchical.
To be continued