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Nigeria-The Feeding Frenzy,Violent Politics And An Endangered Democracy.

The Nigerian National Assembly

It seems that no day passes in Nigeria,without reports of people being violently and brutally killed.From one part of the country to another,it is the same story.Although the police authorities would tend disagree,the popular feeling is that these killings are politically motivated.If this reading of the situation is correct,as the 2011 elections draw near,we might be heading for a bloodbath.Given  such high levels of violence,you have to wonder whether the capacity to sustain democracy,would not be irreversibly compromised.Let us be very clear,politically motivated violence is a great danger to Nigerian democracy.

This level of violence is the result of the perception,that Nigerian  politics is the only  business in town.Certainly,it is the most rewarding.The level of corruption,and looting,being,reportedly,of augean proportion,it should be no surprise that people would kill,or have killing done on their behalf,to get into political office.According to the world bank,in 2009,Nigeria had GDP(ppp) per capita of $2,150 while the United States had $48,436.Yet,according to local reports,a Nigerian senator earns $1.74m while his American counterpart is paid $174,000,yearly.The U.S. president earns$400,000. per year.If you do the math,you will understand that violence is inevitable.This level of corruption can only be attended by “civil war”,among the politicians.This is your classic “feeding frenzy”.

The feeding frenzy is a metaphor used,in ecology,to describe a phenomenon,where the over-supply of food attracts the attention of a group of predators:as when a school of fish,attracts the attention of  a group of sharks,who embark on a period of  feeding so intense,frenzied,excited and feverish that they lash out and bite anything within biting range,including themselves.This aptly captures the scenario,playing out before our very eyes,in Nigeria.As long as politics continues to be viewed as highly lucrative,so long will it attract the sort of people who are more  devoted to self-aggrandizement than to selfless service.This sort of people,lacking any integrity,will do anything to get into political office.

If we are to reduce political violence,and improve the prospects of our democracy,we must intensify the fight against corruption.We have to make the system more accountable.Part of the reason the system is so corrupt,has to do with the personnel.As long as the electoral system rewards thuggish and criminal behaviour,so long will the politics of this country be vulnerable,if not hostage,to a thuggish element.A fairer and more transparent electoral system,one which punishes criminal behaviour,will tend attract people of integrity.People of integrity,normally,subscribe to values,which are necessary  and fundamental to building,the sort of sustainable democracy we all crave.


2 responses to “Nigeria-The Feeding Frenzy,Violent Politics And An Endangered Democracy.

  1. codliveroil September 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

    A nice write up.
    The solution to improving democracy in Nigeria, would be integral.

    Some thoughts that spring to mind are:
    1) Revamping, re-motivating and paying the police adequately to play their expected role in keeping peace and maintaining law and order
    2) The judiciary must be strengthened, kept independent and the wheels of law must be made to turn faster.
    3) A transparent body, that is responsible for vetting candidates, and screening out undesirables.
    4) Curbing the pay of the senate members, and members of the national assembly.
    5) Establishing an independent, reliable, competent electoral commission.
    6) Sensitising the public what democracy means, how to vote and abide by the established rules. Making the public realise that whoever they put forward to represent them, is a reflection of their hopes and aspirations, hence they should only produce candidates whom they have confidence in, going by their track record.

    With all this in place, then we might witness something more akin to an
    orderly electoral process which Ghana and South Africa have done. Although with Nigeria, I’m beginning to have my doubts, do Nigerians like order and organisation? That doesn’t seem to be the case, witness the “wahala” that caused Ekiti state to almost explode with tension, due to state elections held a few years back. We are not even talking federal elections, just tiny Ekiti state. One can see the trouble that caused.

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