It is another Friday, and for me it is about another pain coming from the pulpit. Another pain in a long list of how politics, religion and ignorance have combined to keep my people below the sea level.
I had passed through three distinct stages in my political evolution.
First was at purely ideological levels. It was a naive assumption with ideas. I believed entirely then our problems were that of political leadership. Get the right guys at the top and all else shall be added on to us.
Infact precociously; that made me politically concious initially, before evolving to partisan politics. I wanted to not only add my voice but also participate. It would be easy, I had thought. Just get enough good guys. Just that.
But my experience of almost a quarter century; fifteen years in non partisan activism, ten of partisan politics, four as a top government official and barely a year as a deputy gubernatorial candidate, as well as being in the opposition for roughly three years now had finally succeeded in bursting that delicately nurtured burble of my sheer naivety.
What I saw, heard, asked of, demanded and expected to do by the people (both electorates; partisan from both ends and community leaders) have transformed me into a cautious ideologue. While I still subscribe to the necessity and perhaps even the primacy of a quality leadership, I am now more inclusive, cautious and pragmatic in conceptualizing our prennial problematic development process.
To what extent do the people (electorates) encourage the emergence of good leadership (or it’s opposite) at all levels of governence?
How free is the ‘freedom’ to choose freely?
At what level of ignorance and poverty can a people be reasonably excused to self
disenfranchise and negotiate away quality leadership options to material and emotional gratifications?
To what extent is the society complicit in hamstrunging the few good men who eventually get there through unreasonsble personal expectations and nepotistic exploitations?
Does our collective consciousness and actions as a people encourage even a good guy in a public position to stay true to his Oaths of Office and Allegiance?
Remember, it says in parts:
‘I will do right to all manner of people… without ill will or affection….’
‘I will not allow my personal interest to affect my official conduct…. ‘
How rational is the logic or lack of it to exchange any form of gratification from anyone in political position with your political loyalty under the assumption that he is stealing or will soon start stealing from you (public purse)?
How would you demand of a thief who has stolen from you just a share of that which he has stolen that is yours?
And now finally, at what level of this cyclic and intentional exploitation do the majority of the people become the victims and maintain the cycle?
Who breaks this impossibly vicious cycle and how?
These nine posers symbolise the second stage of my political thoughts and evolution. The role of the people, their history, culture, values, norms and ethics in Develpment Politics.
I am aware of the limitations of any attempt to apply purely anthropologist’s constructs to address complex social behaviour like human development. Because a predatory, greedy and exploitative elite can over time systemically program the mind of a people to support and perpetuate it’s exploitation. What I refer to as the second colonization. Which unlike the first by the foreigners, is more effective as it appears more consensual, participatory and has no timelines for freedom.
For example, how can in this 21st Century, a Governor from my State ever contemplate the idea of paying money to his citizens directly at the polling units on monthly basis? Just how? It is an appalling, exploitative, and very slefish attempt to use our people’s poverty and ignorance against them to win a re-election. It is not only immoral but symbolises every bit of the predatory and clueless nature of the elite class
This willingness to partly consider a majority of the people as victims (to an extent) for their ‘willful’ and ‘consensual’ participation in their underdevelopment led me to my third and present level of political consciousness.
Here, the blame is broader and the science less precise. It relates to the title of this piece; Another Friday, A New Pain.
I have now fully concretized my views about the over riding jurisdiction of Friday sermons on the spiritual, social, economic and political growth of the average Northern Muslim. The pulpit controls us. It is that simple. Progressive politicians from this part of the country must synchronize their development strategies with what comes out of the pulpit. This is what most Muslim majority societies that had achieved scientific renaissance over the last century adopted with a measure of successes.
That is quite possible as long as the political elites can be sincere and committed. Because Islam and human development are inherently complimentary.
It is only when Islamic clerics are involved in the grand scheme of things, have a stake in negotiating/drafting the agenda, along specific non controversial development goals and then tasked with the advocacy, that a small group of a conscious and conscientious elite can take a realistic shot at fixing the North.
But for now, Boko is demonized from the pulpits. Poverty is ignored in the pulpits. Health is undermined from the pulpits. Polio stayed with us from the pulpit. Peace is sometimes sabotaged from the pulpit. Politics is twisted by the pulpits. And so anomie prevails!
Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad
Former Minister of State Foreign Affairs & Information is a Politician and political analyst from Jigawa State