By Ogbu A. Ameh
The German social thinker and proponent of Dialectical Materialism and the ideology of Scientific Socialism, Karl Marx, described ‘Democracy‘ as a pretence and sham, a facade behind which the real political power is exercised by some Oligarchs. Distilling from this school of thought on the concept of democracy, I juxtaposed it with the definition of it from the ancient city of Athens in Greece. In the comparative analysis of the two versions tinkered with the most popular version by Abraham Lincoln. I do know that the essence of the concept has over time been adulterated, perverted and subverted by the deliberate and concerted efforts of economic rationale beings, status groups, social class and the state.
Outside the Northern hemisphere constituting predominantly of peripheries of the core Capitalist West, the concept of democracy is alien and inorganic to its soil and culture. Democracy was conceived, nurtured and propagated in the western part of Europe as a conveyor of capitalist ideology that was its precursor. Just like Roman Catholicism and Christianity before it, so the later to conquer and dominate the whole world.
Karl Marx by his seminal intellectuality and genius for interrogation through dialectic materialism attacked the the church and the crown for the myth of creation and divine power conferred on the King as representative of God on earth. Not done with his attack on the established order yet, he spent his entire adult life interrogating and deconstructing capitalism that was the dominant economic ideology in the West.
Linking his attacks of the foregoing to his description of democracy, one is left with no doubt that, he was a revolutionary genius of all time. that even today, his thoughts and philosophies resonate and speak to mankind, society and the glaring realities of life today. There is nowhere in the world today that Karl Marx’s description of the concept of democracy fits in squarely like countries on the African continents, especially Nigeria.
Democracy just like other concepts and western values pushed down our throats along with capitalism have not been able to find a fertile soil on the continent to germinate and grow. A plant must be planted, nurtured and grow to reproduce fruits or seeds. That is the law of ecology. Any attempt at circumventing, perverting or subverting this process will wither the plant. What we are living witness to on the African continent, especially the Giant of Africa Nigeria are glaring characteristics of the negative variance of the alien democracy we are trying to transplant.
It could not find and will not find a fertile soil to grow due to multilayer factors that symbolizes weed that kills the seed of western democracy.
In Nigeria, the factors are common knowledge that keep exacerbating the negative variance of democracy by every election cycle.
Today, after many elections conducted by the electoral bodies in Nigeria until the creation of INEC, this 2019 general election can compete with the worse elections in the past. It can be nominated for the world Guinness Book of Records for gross electoral malpractices consummated by violence.
Some legal experts have begun to question the declaration of the incumbent president by INEC as winner to be unconstitutional. Member organizations of the civil society and observers allege desecration of democratic institution and abuse of electoral guidelines. The drama of the absurd playing out in the political arena in Nigeria clearly mirrors the country as a perfect fit for Karl Marx’s description of democracy during his lifetime.
We must as a matter of national emergency begin to search for a new symbol of unity to rally around rather than the ethno religious symbols that keep exacerbating the fault lines. Access to political power by competing status groups and economic rational individuals in Nigeria has become highly militarized and violent in a democratic era than it were in military rule era. Why?
The answer lies in the Nigeria of today and the inherent contradictions that pose as challenges confronting its potentialities for greatness. In the face of what we all know and acknowledged as the national questions and fault lines, but refused to confront it in altruistic way. As we keep prevaricating and pretending like the tall Ostrich that foolishly buries its head in the sand while its huge body betrays its presence, Nigeria become highly pervasive.
It could be likened to the institution of money, access to source of monetary reward is access to the diverse and varied want fulfilling and services money can buy, including Votes during elections in Nigeria. There are conspiracies between the state and different sections of the bourgeoisie status groups competing for the control of the state. It is prevalent in countries like Nigeria that is not yet industrialized.
Here, status groups interact and coordinate around collectives susceptible to ethnic, tribe, culture and religion instead of specialized skills, professions and expertise as obtained in the western economies. These are the prerequisites that produce industrial political community in the western world, a fertile soil for the growth of democracy.
Conversely, on the African continent what we have is an army of unemployed youths, unskilled people of productive age and ethnic and religious fanatics on the prowl for hire by unscrupulous politicians. The leadership recruitment process is highly pervasive and tainted with corruption of the highest order. The political elites know this too well and exploit the condition as a control lever to dominate the political space without competitors.
Just as democracy is alien to us but cultivated as a means of leadership recruitment, so is taste for foreign goods and services cultivated and entrenched in our consciousness. Our political leaders elected through the instrumentality of the façade and sham electoral process, prefer anything foreign to locally produced one.
The Nigerian bourgeoisie do not have the scientific knowledge, technological ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills and capacity to advance its society. It is a veritable parasite that survive on the patriarchal patronage and clienteles foisted on the benevolent state that protects the strongest status groups while punishing the weaker ones with exclusion.
This has been the story of Nigeria, the supposedly giant of the continent.
It is very glaring at this juncture that an alternative social force must provide a point of departure to save Nigeria from disintegration and the people from the looming perdition as the political actors in Nigeria hasten the motion on the highway to perdition for the masses.
Comrade Ogbu A. Ameh, the National Convenor, Generation for Change Africa Initiative, wrote from Abuja, Nigeria.