Thursday 12 March 2009

Nigeria: The crude franchise of stones

Stones may atone

Whilst one is not given to violent protest of any sort, it was amusing to read that the Nigerian Presidential convoy that malingered to Jos to condole the people on the death of their king; the Gbong Gwom of Jos, Da Victor Dung Pam was pelted with missiles.[AllAfrica/Vanguard Obateru/Shaibu][Leadership Abimaje/Timothy]

Now, I do remember when we lived in Jos and the Head of State visited, we were out there proudly waving our Nigerian flags, glad to have him visit, even though it was his home state.

Considering it is easy to find a belly-driven paid or coerced multitude to sing the praises of despots in Africa as witnessed in Zimbabwe and Sudan recently, one can only wonder at the disconnect between the corralling sycophants who were to marshal the plaint masses to welcome the benevolent leader and the reality of discontent rather than malcontent leading to the pelting with missiles.

It might well signal a time where African masses have decided to give non-performing leaders their just desserts.

The Gbong Gwom

When a big traditional chief dies in Nigeria the multitudes of political bigwigs and their clique troop to the palaces of the dead kings and declare all sorts of atrocious allegiances and statements that bare no significance to the truth. [TheNationOnlineNigeria Ayuba/Ologun]

The Gbong Gwon who might in other lands have ascended the throne took the stool in 2002 having been a Deputy Inspector General of the Nigeria during which time there have been serious religious and tribal tensions leading to riots and many deaths in late 2008, his predecessor presided over those of 2002 and 2001.[Wikipedia][Wikipedia]

Whilst the Gbong Gwon might have served his country meritoriously as a policeman, it is disingenuous to suggest that his leadership as a traditional chief was that beneficial considering the last riot was alleged to have been instigated by political powers, these powers that he should have been able to lean on from his sphere of influence. [LeadershipNigeria Nkwocha] [LeadershipNigeria Umunnabuike/Shuaib]

A cultural present

A bigger false notion is even being purported of his death creating a vacuum in the cultural heritage of the people – history tells us that the Berom tribe of which he was “political leader” maybe tribal ruler only had this kind of “royal” leadership from 1947, a mere 62 years ago – I am sorry, he might have been a figure head for the Berom but amongst the Berom their leadership structures are clan centred. [Wikipedia]

As one should not speak ill of the dead, paying tribute and respects should not be the occasion to embellish the truth and in being nice tell blatant lies peddling falsehoods.

Investigating a symptom

However, the police would investigate and try to apprehend those who dared to disrespect the President, but I would contend that respect is a two-way thing – the leadership has to earn its respect to have reciprocal respect.

Much as the paternalistic elements of the society would fulminate about the people being malcontents, it is time to reflect on the possibility that the lack of a truly representative democracy that imposes the unsatisfactory on the powerless, where the powerful act with impunity and masses are herded at the bidding of a corrupt elite some form of expression must find an outlet.

Something to ponder

Given this is not the first time a President has been pelted with missiles in that vicinity the security detail have been naïve if not in plain dereliction of their duties to have allowed the President to run the gauntlet of the aggrieved.

In Nigeria, where justice is pricey and due process mostly comes after the grave, a stone here or a stone there at the people who are in leadership but fail to lead or deliver progress and development might just be the only means of the electorate connecting with the elected.

It is then incumbent of those who suffered such indignation to consider what can be done to avoid such situations by addressing the causes rather than corralling everyone who does not have a godfather for punishment which would be unjust, unfair and inimical to possibly the only kind of public protest that can make the leaders listen.

Rest in peace, Gbong Gwom.

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