“This bird so crippled – little bird
Just wants to learn to fly – Longing for the sky
Tell me fellow – sufferer – Tear apart my fate
Who broke them and why – Just another try
Tar-stained feathers – broken wings
Preachers raise your hands – Like shattered pride…”
Alas! The end has justified the means in Nigerian ‘democracy’. Votes have been bought, votes have been sold. The ‘end justifies the means’ is definitely the philosophy of our rampaging ruling party, and we seem to be stuck with it for another four years, except for a few flashes of change here and there. Again, that lament of the afflicted is repeated: “Inna lilLahi wa inna ilaiHi raji’un!” (We are from Allah, and to Him shall we return.) We, all 150 million of us Nigerians, are back in that Chile Mine where we struggled to extricate ourselves; to no avail, it has turned out to be.
Where else in the world would people celebrating a victory kill the losers; and then people protesting a loss kill the winners? Only in Nigeria! Where else in the world would someone be killed just because he approximates the name, region or religion of someone hated somewhere? Only in Nigeria! Every which way, the Nigerian is a loser. So is this ‘democracy’? Is this the same democracy being played out in Ghana and Niger Republic, fellow West African nations with similar historical colonial and developmental antecedents? No! This can’t be democracy. This is a Killing Filed!
One wonders if democracy is really meant for our types! Elections have come and gone, for another cycle of four years. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost already. There is a feeling despair in the land! We may be ‘independent’ as a nation, but we are not ‘independent’ as a people. Indeed, we feel as entrapped as the Palestinians in Gaza, or worse. And come to think of it: was it all worth it? Did the so-called international election observers (who are now singing the praises of our electoral process) see the changing of hands of Two Hundred Naira plus a bar of soap plus a sachet of Indomie Noodles that made that elderly woman choose a particular party, after she was made to swear on the Qur’an? Or did the election umpires avail themselves of the copious evidences of electoral fraud that occurred almost everywhere in this nation, before they announced their results?
On the periphery, 2011 looks good, but underneath, it may perhaps be the worst political exercise in the history of politicking in this country. It is rotten. It smells. It is a festering wound. This is no democracy. This is feudalism. Indeed this is worse. At present, I am what the revered philosopher Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi would say, ‘Confused and Distraught’, a title of one of his poems:
“Again I am raging;
I am in such a state by your soul that
Every bond you bind, I break, by your soul…”
Or what another group, Five Iron Frenzy, sang in their ‘Anthem’:
“A nation stands with heart in hand to sing their anthem proudly
Voices raised to sing their praise of their hollow country
All this talk of freedom, and this talk of liberty
From your plastic podium you try and convince me
I can’t fall anymore for some silver-tongued song
Your freedom isn’t free…”
Finally, let us remind the very few who genuinely won their elections this week without the use of extra- and unorthodox means; that they would do well to take the following exhortation from a President to one of his Governors. Imam Ali bn Abi Talib, Fourth Caliph of Islam, admonished Malik bn Ashtar whom he sent as Governor of Egypt, thus:
“Never think of raising yourself to such a false prestige that you can declare war against Allah because you cannot ward off His Wrath. Never say to yourself, ‘I am their Lord, their ruler and all in all over them and that I must be obeyed submissively and humbly’ because such a thought will unbalance your mind, will make you vain and arrogant, will weaken your faith in religion and will make you seek support of any power other than that of Allah.
“Take care never to think of bringing yourself at par with Allah, never to think of matching your power with Him and contesting His Glory and ever to pretend that you possess might and power like Him because the Mighty Lord will always humble pitiless tyrants and will degrade all pretenders of His Power and Might.
“Every tyrant and oppressor is an enemy of Allah unless he repents and gives up oppression. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the have-nots and the depressed persons more overbalances than the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you.
“Usually these big personages are mentally the scum of the human society, they are the people who will be the worst drag upon you during your moments of peace and happiness, and the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity, they hate justice the most, they will keep on demanding more and more out of the State resources and will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favour shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused, they will never accept any reasonable excuse or any rational argument and when the time changes, you will never find them staunch, faithful and loyal.
“You should never overlook the fact that around the rulers there usually are certain privileged persons (relatives and friends). They may often try to take advantage of their status and may resort to selfishness, intrigues, fraud, corruption and oppression. If you find such people around you then do away with them (however closely connected they may be with you), immediately bring an end to the scandal and clear your surroundings of all such moral and spiritual filth.”
A wise man once said: “Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have.” Nigerians have been deprived of hope, and hope was all that we had in the first place. Alas! But someone had added: “Don’t kick a man when he’s down unless you’re certain he won’t get up.” We will get up again, in sha Allah.