By Adisa Adeleye
IT is a fact that some of the economically advanced nations in the Western World practice and embrace democratic institutions.
They are politically stable and live a peaceful life. It is not that there are no political strives or economic stresses within the environment, but there are recognized mechanism to handle them.
If it is agreed that since Independence in 1960, various governments at different times have made Prosperity (through Peace) one of their main targets, yet insecurity had become the vogue. Peace is often associated with absence of stress, political or otherwise. Prosperity, on the other hand, would require stable economic and political environment to grow. As prosperity would rest on the pillars of macro-economic stability, so peace would survive only in a stable state.
The joy of prosperity through peace is the subtle management of politics and economics. Politicians often talk glibly about the attainment of a prosperous state without giving thoughts to the problems of insecurity. The idea of insecurity to the sixteenth century Englishman was favourably captured in the Hobbesian gState of Natureh, where everything including life, was hopeless. It was a state of total confusion where everyone was everybody‘s enemy.
Modern political historians would quickly remember ‘Biafra‘ of 1967 to 1970 and also, the present Borno State where more than two hundred female students suddenly disappeared (through abduction) without trace (at the time of writing this column). It appears like a comical tragedy, or like the Malaysian flight MH 370 which disappeared in the air without any trace till now – modern phenomenon.
The Boko Haram saga has become an intriguing aspect of the present Nigerian political tragedy It is seen as a small case of insurgency which has grown into a full-scale war (whatever name you call it), tying down a division of the Nigerian Army, ably supported by air power. Yet, with heavy losses inflicted on these savage killers, their foot-army could choose targets with precision and effort-lessly too. Nigeria is faced today not by local armed bandits, but by internationally armed terrorist groups.
What is the appropriate response to a dangerous situation? The 16th century English Philosopher, Hobbes moulds his political idea into the Contract form. He reminded his generation that people were once unsocial, but that they suffered very intensely from the insecurity of their isolated life that they made a Contract with each other to give up their rights to a sovereign, some men or assembly of men, who should have power to keep the peace and guarantee their security.
Hobbes‘ philosophy is the creation of a ‘Leviathan‘ who has absolute power to crash rebellion and ensure enduring peace. It is from peace that prosperity would eventually flow.
This idea is popular with dictators all over the world, and especially in Africa where individual dictators had thrived. It is true that Nigeria under dictator Abacha or powerful Obasanjo would brook no opposition or any form of insurgency.
It may be correct to say that not many Nigerians would applaud the pacific traits and the constitutional behavior of President Jonathan in a volatile but dangerous environment. It took sometime before he could declare a ‘State of Emergency‘ in the three States of the North-East – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa (with democratic institutions intact), a situation not favoured by dictators but found attractive to the seemingly foxy leader of the country. And the costly war rages on.
The admirable steps taken recently towards winning the war against Boko Haram was in widening the Security Committee to include all the ‘executive‘ governors. An advantage of the measure is to make Boko Haram war a national issue rather than a war between insurgents and the ruling party.
It has been for a long time that this columnist has been calling for a joint and united approach to combat the serious problem of Boko Haram insurgency. Though President Jonathan has taken the first important step of raising the conscience of the almighty servants (turned masters), it is up to the President as a Statesman to induce the governors to work as a united front to crush the menace of insurgency and other vices that tend to destroy the soul of the country.
The ardent democrats of this world believe in the opportunity of enthroning the government of their choice periodically. This is the opportunity given to the people to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Thus, at a scheduled period, registered citizens go to the polls to elect representatives of their choice from a welter of parties (or two parties). The parties with elected majority of candidates form the government.
An elected government is expected like the Hobbesian ‘Leviathan‘ to guarantee peace and stability through which prosperity would eventually flow ceaselessly. Anything short of that standard is generally regarded as a breach of trust between the government (with all its forces i.e. police, military etc) and the people of the country.
In a civilized environment, an elected government with a workable majority would submit its proposals to the local parliament for ratification. The government proposals are normally approved (with the opposition having its say). Each elected government has its program of Peace and Prosperity. It may be a single party government or a coalition of more than one party as now being practised in Britain and Germany. In these two countries, no single party could muster enough votes to rule alone.
However, in many countries where there are strong political traditions of trust and submissive loyalty to great leaders, it is possible to have a government which is respected by all. The leader of such a government, (often a Statesman) would be able to get measures through the parliament and the country without any agitation or protests. Such a leader would be a rallying point in periods of turbulence. In the absence of a statesman as the leader, the country‘s political problems are resolved at the polls. But such polls would be expected to be free and fair.
One of the problems of Nigeria is the electoral system which needs judicious reform in order that the people of the country might have confidence that the elections are true reflections of their choice and that the government of the day is the one they think could solve their various problems. It is, however, believed that a plural society without a very strong leadership would be able to cope with its diverse problems through coalition of forces rather than relying on a single party.
And occasionally where there are severe political crisis like sectional war and economic imbalance (with heavy unemployment) leading to deepening poverty and crime, it is safe to root for a genuine national government.