The Pestilence of Political Sycophancy: Lessons from Within

We Know the territory called ‘Nigeria’ – politically, economically, socially and religiously. With our fingers, we can count the leaderships that have governed this country. This is nothing magical; it is simply because we were born, bred and nurtured within its territory. And, by this we also know, in this country, we have no future!

Though not extensively taught in basic and post basic classrooms, we can tell the history that we have lived through – from the times when we saw and believed in the silver lines, in the rising clouds of independence, to the civil war that smothered us and left our lifeless bodies for the vultures, the decades of brutal military dictatorship that dehumanized us and the emergence of a pseudo-democratic culture, in 1999, rigged with extensive political corruption and hopelessness. In all these that has run for the past fifty-eight years, we find it difficult to see where we are coming from and where we are going to.

Before 1960, it was simple to accuse the colonialist of robbing us of the opportunity to be who we really needed to be. After the flag of independence was raised, our greed and our pride placed us before the barrels of the gun and sapped out our lives in such recklessness that it was more dignifying to be anything other than human. Nigeria had the murderous pride of paying pay-loaders from foreign country to fry the eastern part of its country, not only killing her men, women and children but plants and animals – economic trees!
photos of the Nigerian Civil Wars-- Getty Image
In 1999, when some stroke of chance gave us a new form of government different from the rule of decrees, the hopes came on again. We blamed the moribund country on the over forty years of military rule and looked forward for a change. Today, Nineteen years after, not only have we decayed to such a state that our military ancestors will be forgiven, having only been guilty of lesser evil, we have savagely, with the help of our hands and our minds, stirred ourselves to a level of lunatic emptiness that the least thing as the glory of a sovereign state is but a sigh of comic relief whenever it is applied to us.
President Obasanjo, 1999 -- Britanica
Today, the rhetoric is a classic farce and sarcastic! The same people who were corner stones in the past government – full-blooded PDP members – changed their name and assumed a new identity. In this present administration, eighty-five percent of the leadership, are former PDP members. They wake up every morning to blame the past administration for all the troubles Nigeria is facing today, when, in reality, they were the problems of the past administration and still are the problems of the present administration!
The heart-bleed is that, what keeps them alive, (by ‘them’ I also mean corruption of which they personify) in not so much as their strength and dexterity, as it is our applause, accorded them on the account of our sycophantic greediness!

The system is so deplorable. The level of illiteracy and laziness and the resultant poverty and inordinate quest for survival by youth are so deeply rooted that many youths, who have the above-mentioned diseases, are constant patients on the sickbed of aimless politicians.

If the passion of youths that flood the social media and the columns of local tabloids on daily basis, drumming their support for their candidates and lambasting their perceived opponents are channelled into productive enterprise and scholarship, the Nigerian society would have achieved it true change!

Nigerian politicians would have come to the consciousness that they are leading intelligent subjects who do not tolerate nonsense of any kind; such that budgets on education, healthcare and security and other basic priorities of government would have been a cup of tea in the dining table of every politicians. And, those who know that they are incompetent would simply chicken out by the whip of intellectual fright. But here, the reverse is the case. Nigerian Politicians know that they are leading or better still, lording over lazy and un/educated youths whose future can be mortgaged for a plate of porridge with their own consent. And, Nigerian politicians are working assiduously to maintain that status quo.

For instance, on 10th December 2016, Akwa Ibom State saw its worst nightmare in broad day light. Almost a thousand-capacity auditorium, filled to its brim – again, by aimless, jobless youths, religious and political sycophants – flattened on the spectators and the mortuaries in the metropolis ran over. The government, for whatever reason, announced to the public that only seventeen, or about twenty people died. Was that to calm the fears of the public? But, years after that incident what has happened? Nobody has been arraigned for that terrorism. What we have now are basically ‘exchange of words’ between government and the committee that was set to investigate the horror, with the government acting as a ‘lawyer’ to the principal culprit.
The horror of December, 10. 2016, -- Cable News
But when you open the screens of the social media, hundreds are thanking the government for the ‘expression and maturity’ and the ‘speed’ in which the government handled the matter. And, when you look below these sick comments, you see hundreds of likes and shares, obviously, from people whose brains have been soured by sycophancy.

In a country where more of production and cultivation should be emphasized in all spheres of life and where scholarship should be given a priority attention for the development of formidable manpower that will see the country through in all its scientific and ideological inadequacies, our house members, from the states to the national assemblies are noted and canonized for buying and distributing cars and other items to their stalwarts in the name of constituency briefing.

You find pictures of old cars, old computers, motorcycles and all, worth nothing, litter the pages of social media by their fans. Yes, we would say, some items like sewing machines and cars could be used for commercial production. But then, will everybody be a taxi driver and cyclist? Of all these, if the person ‘briefing’ is a PDP member, how many non-partisans have ever received gift items? How many civil servants? Or, is a house member only representing his party or the entire constituency that makes up of PDP, APC, civil servants, technocrats, students, men, women and children of no partisan affiliation?
Constituency Briefing
The most rib-cracking outing by the governor was laying a foundation stone for the building of a church that will consume whooping thirty billion naira or there about on Sunday, January 21, 2018. While the comedians on social media and the local tabloids thanked God for the gift of ‘Emmanuel’ and ‘Solomon’ combined, it is high time we asked pertinent questions.

How important is such a project to the good of the people? What of the non-Christians, Muslims and pagans et cetera, what will the government build for them? Is Christianity a state religion? How will this building solve the countless problems of the citizens. In a state that has no meaningful industry and millions of people are living below poverty line, have we ever think of what thirty billion could do for us? Whether the money is from donations or government purse or whatever, it does not diminish the fact that such amount could have gone to something better or more productive.

Yet still, the governor flouted the protests and the cry of the people and went ahead to invite a pastor to lay the foundation stone in the presence of hundreds of political and religious spectators who stood by to clap for him.
Designs of the Mega Worship Centre 
What actually made me conclude in the redundancy of our youths are the events of the recent days. Firstly, the honourable speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly decided to perform the role of a best man for his chief press secretary. As personal and as filial as this is, hundreds of youths took to the social media to congratulate the speaker. And I asked, for what? Even when Regal Ibokette tried to reason that a Governor had once done this for this driver in Benue State, he was met with rebuttal fiery attacks and name calling. Secondly, Iniobong Ememobong’s gesture to drive his driver, for whatever purpose that was, became a hallmark of achievement to celebrate.

The sycophancy is not really the problem. The problem is that in the midst of this noise, nothing tangible can be achieved. We lose focus. We fail to do what we are supposed to do; we keep vigils for a change that will never come. Inspired by the spirit of laziness that is now our own spirit, we become cheep tools in the hands of purposeless politicians.

Furthermore, for reasons that still are not clear, Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential elections in 2015. Pictures of underage voters filled the internet and extensive reports of irregularities in the northern part of the country went viral. Jonathan chose not to listen to these issues but was quick to throw in the towel. For him, it was perfect to surrender so peace could reign. Again, I asked, which peace?
Reported Images of Underage voter, 2015--Punch
What is actually the difference between the clear political killings that happened in 2011 after Buhari lost the presidential election and the wanton destruction of lives and properties by Fulani herdsmen and all the assaults of Boko Haram? When once the object of choice and the intentions are good, the outcomes will be good. If ascertaining the credibility of the 2015 elections needed blood of bigots, that would have been far better than the economic, political, religious and social plague that has besiege Nigeria since 2015.

The present APC administration came on the auspices of an anti-corruption campaign. Beautiful enough, the candidate that presented himself as the saviour had serious contentions with his academic qualifications. We glossed over it! The sycophants who never knew who or what Buhari is, jumped to the media and rained the noise. Accusations on PTF funds came, the noise drowned it; stories of who he was resurfaced, sycophants who were not born when Buhari was a General, flooded the air space with the gospel that he had changed.

Today, when we see the dehumanization of the Igbos for asking for independence from a country they do no longer feel secured about; when we listen to the thoughts of giving amnesty to terrorists; the thoughts of usurping peoples’ land for cattle colonies and most bitterly, the canonization of corrupt PDP members who declared their support for APC, how wrong are we to call Buhari a sectional, tribal and religious tyrant?
Python Dance in Eastern Nigeria-- Naija watch
A senator stood up on the floor of the Senate to suggest a death penalty for people who come up to express themselves in the media. The same phylum of senators believe that terrorists should be given amnesty and landowners and farmers should forfeit their lands for cattle colonies to appease herdsmen, who, by the senator’s standards are right to ‘kill for the sake of their cows’.   In the light of all these, people who lick the crumbs from the table of APC politicians still come on the media to sing praises to this evil!

Forgetting completely about the loud campaign promises of the APC government, – from constant power to reduction of fuel prices, employment, Naira/Dollar equation and all that noise – the reality in that the APC government has given to Nigerians an anaemic economic system that has rendered us useless.

One of the resounding business mogul, philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gate, on his analysis and observations swung his head in total disappointment, at the special and expanded National Economic Council held in Abuja, for a country whose “economic templates, being used by Muhammadu Buhari’s government, do not have the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians at present.”  
Bill Gate in Nigeria -- Techpoint
Beside the woes that the pages of this paper can never contain, a seismic loss of national pride and value in comity of nations, even in Africa is a subject of concern to any sane individual.  That the American president, Donald Trump and the former British Prime Minster, David Cameron could disparage Nigeria and her leadership is not as heart bleeding as Ghanaians shouting down on Nigeria’s president ‘to go home and find the snake that swallowed thirty-six million Naira.’

In the Hades of a country that we are, and in the presidency that has spent fifty-percent of its time and resources in a hospital overseas, Buhari, at an old age that cannot be correctly given numerically, has declared to run for another four years. This declaration is not as painful as the fact that there are people, young people, who have again taken to the media to wail their support. It begs the question, to what extent of damages is the sycophancy of the greedy and the opportunistic? Because, from all available data, they are now becoming psychotic! 

May God help us!

Idiongo Ebong

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