Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Only this time, they returned to their barracks…

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Same way the story goes? That sinking feeling at the guts; the bewildered, vacant stare- helpless surrender in the face of that granite wall that demarcates mere possibility from the stings of reality.

Yet another charade? Played out far above the heads of the ignorant masses?

And at the end of it all? A return to the familiar rat-race, and working vigorously to atone for the losses from a diversionary timeout so early in the new year.

Same winners? Another humbling reminder: The boss runs this station!

The story ends here. But there are a few post-scripts.

The people stormed the streets, alarmed at basic calculations which heralded certain starvation. They figured out government’s strident permutations and promises for what they really were: The Orwellian Sugar Candy Mountain, a place where one might eventually berth…after death.
Labour eventually joined the fray, and made it official, and the throngs grew from strength, to numerical strength.

In that massive crowd that built across the states, one saw different things depending on one’s perspective. A nationalist would see the formidable force which Nigerians posed, assembled as a single, united entity. A revolutionary would feel the initial droplets converging to stir up a turbulent sub-Saharan spring.   

From the eyes of the Government of the day, one could see the glorious sight of ambushing one’s enemies in a single ascertainable unit, thus making it easier to decimate them.  A strategy well appreciated by Emperor Nero, “Would it that the people had one neck, that I may cut it off!”  

The rest is recent history, and the gains and losses lie where they fell.

To all who gave voice to their protests, I say- straighten up your shoulders. Do not slouch in disgrace. You gave life to your inner strength by stepping beyond silent murmurs. Sadly, you are only empowered to vote the government in. The ballots do not vote out, and any dissatisfaction in the interim is at best expressed informally. Protests are therefore destined to wither out in the long run, faced with a borderline legal perception as sedition or treasonable uprising.

To the starry-eyed optimists who may have been blessed with the necessary clairvoyance to predict that government would keep its word, despite these years of betrayals and falsehood. I say, congratulations, and I heartily hope you read the cards correctly this time.

The real losers are the cynics who merely dismissed the dissenting voices: “We have seen it happen before, nothing will come of it”. Yes, they may have been proven right once again, but they cannot even afford the luxury of a victory smile. Their faces remain a crisscross of bitter lines which curl their lips further downwards in a permanent grimace of rationalized despair. And every stirring for change is dead in their subdued loins.

One thing we will not forgive though, is viewing the Nigerian people as a mere bandwagon of ‘sheepish followers’. The impression was sold that a few people hijacked a sentiment and planted it in the minds of the masses. This view insults the Nigerian citizenry as a pack of clueless imbeciles and only time will tell how this will play out in our future dealings as a nation. 

For once, it was not convenient for government to label a protest ‘the idle work of political enemies’. The protests took a more enlightened shade beyond the normal whimpering of a disgruntled minority.  This crop of political enemies seemed to have struck a rare harmony with both logic and public support.

Logic and public support. These are Democratic concepts. But insincere leaders cannot contend with them. Thus, the opposition had to be quelled by a show of incumbent superiority.
And out poured the Soldiers!

Soldiers, an impressive band. They do not talk much, their uniforms do. They herald grim promises like the black raven, and exert sudden quietness to the uneasy skies.
The people’s voices died in their throats.

Once again, the soldiers saved the polity. Only this time, they returned to their barracks.

God Bless Nigeria!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Time we considered Outsourcing the Business of Leadership…

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The social contract between ruler and ruled fizzles into a shadowy jurisprudential abstract, in the absence of credible clauses that enforce performance - both ways. Fact. And mind, the contract is not saved if it merely provides one-sided enforcement (In the ‘half bread is better than none’ sense). One sided contracts are judicially ill-perceived for creating unequal bargains.

The fuel subsidy issue crystallizes the absolute convenience of the party wielding the upper hand in an unequal bargain.
Now, supposing Subsidy removal is a vital- if jarring- strategy (Hypothesis!); how have all the parties been carried along? The business approach would involve tonnes of painstakingly prepared (and credibly audited) documents stating exact facts and figures, charts and measurable deliverables. This would be necessarily followed by inquisitorial scrutiny from the other party, and it is only when the latter is won over that the contract is executed- under ‘mutually agreed terms’.  

But what is the scenario here? They simply sent professors to sound out vague intellectual phrases, and you either grasp it adequately to throw your weight behind the idea, or get a migraine trying to figure it out and simply say, to hell! Thus, it becomes yet another avenue for displaying superior intelligence, a mere intellectual debate, while its ravaging effects spread- mercilessly.

If this were a mere oversight on the part of government, it would be pardonable. But it is clearly not. It is yet another rough-shod ride over the governed, buoyed by an ill-woven enforcement environment.
The enforcement environment makes the citizen unable to claim damages when the dividends of civil rule are denied him. They are non-justiciable.  Even his Human rights are qualified to suit public (read, State) interests. RIGHT TO LIFE blinks conspicuously in the books, but does nothing to stave systemic murder.

My view of the Subsidy removal and attendant Beelzebub-ian hike in (all) prices remains absolute: IT IS WANTON AND WICKED. Sadly, my civilian nature has also exposed me to cheap shots from well, fellow civilians. They label my views ‘rants from an arm-chair’. They also condemn my lack of imagination for – failing to proffer alternative solutions to government. I leave the reader to figure out the fine irony in that phrase: proffer alternative solutions to the (Nigerian) government. Like, seriously?

I assure you, if I had licensed guns, I will shoot them wildly to register my protest. But then, the issue is far more grave than interring or exhuming private hatchets. It is a collective battle for survival by an irate, nay, volatile citizenry. And we must all take our sides, firmly.
But then…when the battle is won or lost, how do we move on? Even though the chants of revolution stir in my breast, I have grown to understand that it is not an end in itself. The late Heavy D crooned- “Now that we found love, what are we gonna do…with it?”  
So if the battle is won, or lost, what are the feasible options towards avoiding this recurrent stalemate between ruler and ruled?

And I say, maybe it is time we seriously considered outsourcing the business of leadership. To foreign technocrats.

No, it is not a return to colonialism. The world has outgrown that. Nations now act as joint-watchdogs for one another against racism.  

Call it a Diplomatic Doctrine of Necessity (DDN). Our leaders have failed us, roundly and repeatedly. But we need not make a sorrow-tale out of that. So we would invite these foreigners to operate every policy corner (Federal and state) in their stead.
We do not have less learned nationals of course, but the lure of cash and the fear of the system have proven acutely overwhelming.  In the light of this, once the technocrats are invited, they will be shielded with a modified version of the immunity clause, tagged- Freedom from Government Interference (FGI).

Their contract tenures will be contained in collectively agreed agreement, and they will be mandated to function according to laid down Standard Levels. Thus, their remuneration will only be accessed upon performance to certain measurable indices of the contract.
If they under-perform, their contracts will not be renewed, and they will leave our shores. If they engage in any criminality, the Immunity clause does not avail them and they will face the Law’s full brunt. Otherwise, their contracts are renewed for another term.

This will not preclude our normal rulers from being elected to office. Nah, are we not an Independent state?  By all means they can claim the glory of the technocrats’ successes. But then, their salaries will be payable out of the ‘profits’ from the technocrats’ operations, after the national/social needs are adequately met.  Nevertheless, let the politicians look on the bright side. It will free them to iron more pressing issues…their agbada for instance.

Going forward, when the needed transformation is achieved in the nation’s critical sectors (in line with specific timelines); the outsourcing contracts will be reviewed to cover management and maintenance. And so on.

This may be a dim-witted view, but I had scratched my head vigorously to come up with a more nationalistic approach and my brain could only swim in circles. At least, I will not be accused of being a blockhead.


PS: I am playing Eminem’s MOSH as I write. Readying for tomorrow’s great march. Bite me!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

When the 'other party' must not be heard!

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A vital ingredient of Justice is also its biggest weakness: The insistence that the other party be heard. Afterwards; Justice then tilts to the favour of the party with a stronger voice.
Another weakness here is that it focuses only on one aspect of an otherwise dual nature of humans- the intellect and the untamed instinct. Thus, a refined lie will always emerge victorious over raw truth- shoddily presented.  
Every human craving cannot be rationalized abstractedly in finely woven arguments. Sometimes, we are faced with actual expiry of our very physical selves; and in such scenarios, the untamed animal must sprout its natural defences...urgently!
This latest brazen attempt to force-feed a nation with the toxic policy of Fuel Subsidy removal is not to be rationalized. The Government has lost its right of audience in the intellectual court. The policy is a terse declaration that the ultimate master-plan of the ruling class is to rid the country the embarrassing sights of the ill-fed common man.
As extinction looms large; what does the common man do? Proceed to the courts with a valiant hope of emerging the stronger voice?  Albeit a disembodied voice?
I recently saw the movie, THE CONSPIRATOR, where the trial of the alleged band that conspired to murder Abraham Lincoln was relived.  A line from the movie sticks out in my mind now: Inter arma, silent leges (In times of war; the law grows silent).
The Ruling Class has declared war on the Common man, and is smugly awaiting its turn at the courtroom bolstered by the knowledge that the jury will be inevitably swayed by its seasoned oratory. Unfortunately, this is one case where the other party must not be heard.
Let them shoot down protesters, and prove that it’s a base war after all; devoid of intellectual content.
But then, the problem with the animal instinct is that it has no sense of time, or proportion. Once a little spark is ignited, it might as well burn forever. Let our Rulers pay heed to this before they unfasten the Feud-Chain.
We need not fall prey to violent histories that pre-date us.