By Oludayo Tade
DIAGNOSING the problems confronting Nigeria, Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora, we consistently accuse the military’s long stay in power as a major cause. The same factor created behavioural loopholes which birthed impunity. The military carries the blame of socialising Nigerians to entrenched lies, corruption, sectionalism, favouritism, among others. To some extent, this standpoint is accurate. Still, post-military governance has democratised impunity across actors and social institutions and the problem is assuming a national character. What is even worse is when you ask Nigerians what they believed to be the cause of our problems. Many adopt the technique of neutralisation by shifting blame and pointing accusing fingers to the leadership of the country. Most of us forget that there is a thin demarcating line between the leadership in Nigeria and the followership. It appears, as Lagbaja says, all of us na the same.
It is now 20 years into democratic dispensation. By now, we ought to have a government that is people-initiated, people-driven and people-focused. The government is supposed to provide level playing ground for all actors, ensure that rule of law remains supreme, engender equality before the law irrespective of place and language of birth, and enforce the fundamental human rights of the people. Unfortunately, these expectations only exist on papers with Nigerians suffering. As if good news has been banished from our land, nothing seems good enough to read in the dailies. What are shared on social media are oddities happening as normal everyday occurrence.
To foreground this thought, I employed Bisade Ologunde’s (Lagbaja) song, 200 Million Mumu to argue that the misfortune that Nigerians encounter on a daily basis are caused by the ‘wicked 80 percent’ who carry the label of ‘ordinary Nigerian’.
Highly active in making reference to and accusing the leadership as bad, Lagbaja, like myself, reappraised and substituted the top-down analysis, which only constructs Nigerian leadership as bad, unfeeling, corrupt, and criminal, for a bottom-up analysis that placed Nigeria’s followership at the centre of the precarious conditions facing Nigerians and Nigeria. After all, the majority of followers, rather than the leaders participate actively during elections. We are the ones electing monsters and excessively selfish characters who deny welfare to the people but enthrone elitism as a way of life. My position points to a wickeder followership cohort who is not fundamentally different from the leadership being accused. In Lagbaja’s words, mumu plus mumu… the same, the same. Leader is wicked but follower is wickeder.
We, as callous followers blame Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha as ‘dealers’ absolving ourselves as co-creators of Nigerian realities. In that song, Lagbaja sees no difference between the blamers and the blamed. Characterising the blamers within the microcosm of their influential spaces, the musician spotlights the hypocritical critics whose behaviours are the same the same. Clothed in his symbolic faceless attire which represents the voice of the unheard, Lagbaja recalls how Nigerians asked him to lampoon those in government, claiming they are all thieves. In a conversational tone, Lagbaja replies na you be them, na dem be you, you and them na the same. In other words, ‘we’ are the thieves we asked Lagbaja to lampoon. Lagbaja after years of castigating the leadership, reflected and realised that the leaders and followers possess a difference of a cup half empty and half full.
By minority na exception, majority na corruption, Lagbaja depicts why Almighty Formula has refused to solve the mounting structural problems and normalised acts of corruption. Sociologically, the family begets unto the society a nurtured conformist or deviant/criminal. In Nigeria mothers and fathers dupe other persons to send their wards to school. Now in private school, the children enjoyed no failure as practised in such settings to retain patronage. To cross into the university, they need to pay to get solution centres where the child will get over 300 marks.
The 2019 JAMB exercise where over 100 are being prosecuted for examination malpractices, including professor accomplices tell the tale of the same the same. How can parents who failed to cater for their homes accuse the leadership of lacking human feeling? Marginalisation starts from the home when a wife gives her husband meat more than the children who need it to grow. Irresponsible parents cannot produce responsible children; they cannot support or vote responsible persons into leadership positions except their cronies who are dealers, traders and wasters of destinies.
Besides, do you wonder why professors of political science, medicine or whatever the speciality, hardly make headway in government? One, they are overwhelmed by the majority who pilot corruption aircraft of the country. Two, most of them leave science behind but go with politics. Their families expect returns, favour and opportunities while their son or daughter is there. Churches and mosques do special thanksgiving on appointment. They call them to make donations to build mansions as mosques and monuments as churches. Their school mates pay courtesy visits; they receive favours in contracts and others; the rest suffers. These social relations of corruption are the German floor upon which corruption and impunity foundations have been built and watered. Like the professors, activists fight tyrants in power. When they get into office, they beat Hitler’s records. Unionists who fight for freedom of expression and students rights while in school become lecturers and heads of institutions only to shut down dissent voices from students. Yet we hypocritically claim we no longer have vibrant student unionism when indeed we make them go astray as sheep without shepherd.
Developing a mumucracy thesis, I argue that the foundation of depreciation of Nigeria is laid by the common, ordinary man who populates geo-political spaces and enthrones the minority who trades with the cheated but unperturbed majority.
The way Lagbaja puts it: na common man dey do common man pass. Before we dey shout na military, na military now wey civilian government dey, no be our people dey inside? Common man in Police uniform shoots another common man’s child dead. Is it not the common man who sold votes during elections that have now started complaining of bad leadership? We have laid this bed and we shall lay on it.
So, if the foundation is faulty, what shall the righteous do? The overwhelming majority are corrupt while the minority exceptions do not have the wherewithal to pull through. Hence, Nigeria’s trend of five steps forward, ten steps backward. From ought-to-be paradise, Nigeria’s political, economic, religious and social realities are a paradox. The leadership in Nigeria are playing out a script written for them by the unthinking majority. Mumu people can only promote mumucracy and still be living in denial as the harbinger of the negative realities which they face. Unless the common man does the uncommon thing by realising their errors and reset themselves and then the polity, we shall collectively face the consequences of our complicity.