Democracy and Cacophony of Rented Crowd

Democracy and Cacophony of Rented Crowd

By: Idumange John

Some people argue that Nigeria is an unmitigated disaster. This verdict appears to be generally acceptable by Nigerians both at home and in Diaspora. Edward Bernays agreed that “The conscious and intelligent
manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the (public) is an
important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen
mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true
ruling power of our country.' Democracy to a lesser extent permits deceit,
trickery and shrewd manipulation of power and resources. To a great extent,
democracy also allows some measure of character assassination which in my
opinion is more lethal that physical assault and it involves far less risk for
the assassin. It leaves him free to commit the same deed over and over again,
and could ultimately win him honours and
laurels of a hero.

In Nigeria, politics is a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles and the conduct of public affairs for private advantage. Democracy is majority rule but
certainly mobocracy. But I’m quiet
sure most Nigerians are oblivious of this fact. What has become trendy in
recent time is for politicians to rent crowds to protest and sometimes
demonstrate against their conscience. The import of these several demonstrations
have not been felt. However, the protestations are a damnation of the Nigerian
electoral system and the poverty of representation in Nigeria.

The pervasive morass of unemployment has provided a fertile ground for politicians to hire the youths for protests and other dirty jobs.
The motivation for such demonstrations is not driven by altruisms or consciencism
by the emptiness of their stomachs when ex-governor James Iboiri was declared
wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC). Oghara women
and youths in Delta State, carried black cards and embarked on solidarity
protest with their kinsman. They believe that the former Governor demonstrated
purposefulness in Government as evidenced in the physical and social
infrastructure provided for them during his tenors. The thinking of the people
is that if the Governor stole or if the Governor use public funds to improve
their wellbeing why should he be prosecuted as a common criminal? Good logic!.

But why have we forgotten so soon that Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha was tried and found guilty of corruption charges? What will the followers of former Governor Ayo Fayose of
Ekiti State say, when he was chased out of Nigeria by EFCC and later
incarcerated? The people of Jos did not protest the trial of former Governor
Joshua Dariye of Plateau State.

Some of the protesting youths were blunt to tell the world that the anti-graft agency should not engaged in selective trial as that would bastardized the anti-corruption
crusade. I believe they were making a tacit reference to the likes of Dr. Peter
Odili and all those involved in the Halliburton scandal. A nation that has
failed to probe high profile corruption cannot be said to be fighting
corruption. Is that why people cry about EFCC’s selective justice?

When it became imminent that professor Maurice Iwu tenors was elapsing politicians especially the crocks who were ridged into power by the PDP machinery also went to work. The
constituency of these people was the legion of those whose shops had being
demolished and were unemployed as a result. More than 90% of the pro-Iwu protesters
were drawn from the spare parts markets and okada
riders. Most of their black cards where inundated with messages that were
actually against Iwu the group could not estimated the fact that Iwu’s tenure
would expire in June 2010. It was a
protest that enraged Aso Rock and the Chief occupant only scribbled down a
sentence and the Professor Maurice Iwu has been confined to the dark alleys of
history. He has being compelled to proceed on the terminal dis-engagement leave
which most Nigerians describe as “good riddance to bad rubbish”. But it was the
same Maurice Iwu that rigged all PDP office holders into power and he should be
given soft landing.

A forth night ago their was a gale of protest in Abuja, this time around against Governor Timipre Sylva and other members of his cabinet. The protest is generally believe to have be
sponsored to those who have being sacked from the Sylva Administration, the
Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi and another frustrated,
power-thirsty politician who used one of the Development Commissions to
accumulate ponderous wealth to seek political power. Whereas I do not intend to
plead alocotus for the Sylva
administration, I am of the view that these are times that call for wisdom and
dialogue as instruments of conflict resolution. After all, the Nigerian
Constitution itself seems to place premium on dialogue rather than the placard
carrying thing.

Investigations into this protest revealed that while the first group comprises those who have been sacked by the Sylva Administration for one kind of financial malfeasance of another. Naturally,
such people would fight back to maintain their integrity are fighting back to
humiliated their former boss. Human
beings have a natural tendency for
self-esteem. But in this case it is self –esteem suffused with lethal

The Deputy Governor, who most people believe to be the richest politician in Bayelsa State, might have been is angered by the fact that “the business actually scenario” which created
room for large scale peculation had been abolished. The third person behind the
protest Mr Timi Alaibe had since 2001 been angling for the Governorship of
Bayelsa State. He orchestrated several dozens of protest during the Alamieyeseigha
Administration. His frustration is understandable in the light of the several
attempt he had made to be governor of Bayelsa State. What really baffles many
people is that a man plotting to be Governor of a State could degenerate to
such a missals level of renting a crowd
to protest the removal of an incumbent governor whose tenure will subsisted
till 2012.

The National Assembly and the EFCC apparatus have swept under the carpet the first “Iyabogate” involving N3.5 billion in which Iyabo was accused of forgery and impersonation.
Whereas Adenike Grange and Adukwu were promptly sacked because of the scandal
occasioned by the reckless expenditure of the unspent money in the health
sector, Iyabo went hiding for fear of EFCC and resurfaced only to be admitted
back to the senate. Many Nigerians know that the battery of scandals will only
improve her credentials to contest the governorship of Ogun State
come 2011. Under this harsh regime of intense governance deficit and economic
austerity, why is Yar’Adua operating democracy like George Orwells Animal Farm?
Why is kleptocracy thriving in spite of loud public pronouncements that the
Rule of Law is thriving? Why have Nigerians not carried placards to the
National Assembly to protest the slow pace of the constitutional review

Very soon Nigeria should expect Pro-IBB protesters who will be sponsored by those who benefited from the IBB administration. If Nigeria could protest for an IBB Presidency- a man who
have no skate democratic credentials and a man who anole the June 12 1993
Presidential elections, it is obvious
that someday they will protest for the resurrection of Adolf Hitler to presided
over the affairs of Nigerians. But Prof. Wole Soyinka and the Lagos Action
Congress refused to come under the undemocratic
umbrella of the ‘evil genius’ and
preferred the option of being beaten by the rain. They demonstrated this by
refusing to attend the one-man-one vote rally. But what has the Rivers State Action Congress
done to Prince Tonye Princewill, who strenuously defended Atiku’s defection to
the PDP? Is mere suspension from the Party enough punishment? The AC leadership
in Rivers State has to take panadol for this headache.

Since Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became Acting President of Nigeria he has demonstrated the political will to reformed the People Democratic Party PDP as a purposeful government
poised to make a change he has also sent the INEC Czar to terminal leave. Plans
are also underway to reposition the real sectors of the economic, and those
will be achieved through the massive injection of donor funds and the
appointment of tested technocrat to manage them. Within the PDP there is an impending implosion. The PDP
chairman Chief Vincent Ogbulafor is believed to be involved in a financial
scandal and it may be possible that some street urchins an agberos will be rented to protest that the Law court should not try
Ogbulafor because a PDP Chairman in their imagination, is a tin-god or a
colossus of sort, who is above the Party. This is what happens when a political
party is devoid of sound ideological underpinning.

The shenanigan displayed by the political class under the guise of protest shows that they, the political office holders were either not elected by the people and
therefore lack popular legitimacy. The attitude most political office holders
is a negation. A government office holder who spends millions of Naira to pay
unemployed youths to carry out a protest is also guilty of money laundering.
This is because no body will use monies
legitimately earned to pay the jobless for the purpose of protests,
which in most cases degenerate to a breach of the peace.

The sole aim of the Governors forum is to clip the wings of the Acting President, or better still compel him to do their bidding. I can conjecture that when the
Acting President begins to push for constitutional reforms, members of the
National Assembly may be tempted to carry placards or rent all the security
guards in Apo Quarters to protest against the passage of the Freedom of Information
(FOI) Bill and the Justice Uwais electoral reforms. Nigeria is a nation where
the leaders have wilfully slaughtered hope, a land where corruption and bad
governance walks on four legs. But Ag. President Goodluck Jonathan has assured
that Nigeria cannot FAIL.

Idumange John, is a University Lecturer and Activist

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