There are many Nigerians who remain dazed about the announced results of the recent Nigerian elections. Our confusion and angst may stem from our belief that in a democratic election, the best man always wins. Not really! See what is currently happening all over West Africa. Military coups which we thought had died, appear to be popping up everywhere again. Are the people tired of our experiment with democracy?
I have written here before that the entire democracy project hangs on the fascinating concept that all men are born equal. In other words, the great Aliko Dangote with his zillions of Naira, many trucks and thousands of employees has the same voting power as his cook. A Barack Obama with his political sagacity and deep experience in world affairs casts one vote and that vote is in no way superior to that of a homeless man begging for coins in front of Washington DC’s Union Station. The vote of any of the hyper brilliant young men in Silicon Valley who are driving Artificial Intelligence that is radically changing the world, has the same weight as that of any janitor in America!
I told people that the British would never vote to leave the European Union. It made no sense to me. I was wrong, terribly wrong. Please forgive me for believing that the British are a thinking people and as a thinking people, would not ignore the warning of the array of world leaders and experts that told them of the devastating effect of walking away from their kith and kin in Europe.
I was sure that the British had a high opinion of Barack Obama and would listen to him. But, if they had suddenly changed their minds with respect to Obama who is an American, what of David Cameron who the British elected as their Prime Minister? Gordon Brown, Prime Minister before Cameron warned them not to leave and so did Tony Blair, the one before Brown. Even David Beckham, their football duper star begged them against Brexit, yet the British, in a one man, one vote process, resolved to exit the European Union!
Voting is one thing and making sense of the vote is another. To make Brexit work, former Prime Minister, Theresa May, wrestled with crocodiles. Brexit made the poor woman dizzy and her grey hair became greyer every day. She found no way to implement the result of the referendum until she was kicked out. Her loquacious Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, the flame thrower, who sniped at her and took over as Prime Minister, did not last long either. His successor, Liz Truss, resigned just after 50 days in office! Rishi Sunak is the 5th British Prime Minister in seven years, battling with the result of Brexit. To fully understand the situation, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Great Britain for 11 years. Tony Blair, after her, was Prime Minister for 10 years. For the 8 years that Muhammed Buhari was Nigeria’s President, he had to deal with David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, as British Prime Ministers!
The guy, Donald Trump, who could not keep his hands off the twitter handle of his smart phone and who tells lies about practically everything was elected by Americans in a one man, one vote process, even if it is the electoral college variety. Donald Trump has been twice impeached by the US Congress. He has been three times criminally indicted in three different US Courts. A fourth indictment seems to be on the way. Trump has even been found liable for sexually assaulting a woman by a US court. You would think that such a guy would be politically dead. The truth is that in a one man, one vote process, the Republican MAGA crowd in America may soon make Donald Trump President again. Should that not make us stop and think?
The world must watch out! What has happened to the British and probably the Americans should be a warning to humanity as to how dangerous a romantic term like ‘one man, one vote’ can be in the hands of a demagogue with a lot of resources and the skills to manipulate innocent people. Is it not time to seriously interrogate the system of one man one vote?
It is not particularly difficult to aggregate the votes of thugs, the uninformed and area boys around us and unleash mayhem everywhere. One man one vote does not mean one good man one vote. It does not mean one intelligent man one vote.
I have little doubt that if a one man one vote referendum is held in Nigeria’s South-East today, it will be very easy to get enough people to vote for an independent Republic of Biafra. The concept is romantic. I am a proud and unapologetic Igbo man. I am however not sure that just like the British, we have given sufficient thought to the cataclysmic consequences of Independence. For instance, where do you fit the millions of Igbo men trading in every nook and cranny of Nigeria? What do you do when your market of 200 million people suddenly shrinks to 40 million? What happens to the investments, property and deep ties that the Igbos have developed across Nigeria? Where is the guarantee that the suspicions and persecution that we complain about in Nigeria will not be replicated in Biafra or even made worse with some Igbo groups lording it over others? There is no question that we love the concept of Biafra, a romantic concept, but we must think.
The problem with romance is that when you are in love, you see only the good things about the one you love. Almost always, you are blinded to the fault of your lover. Why do you think there is so much divorce?
What applies to the Igbos applies to our brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta who may want to blow up the country because they want ‘self-determination’, ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’. Investigate and you will find that always, there are puppeteers pulling the strings and hoping to deploy the system of one man one vote to achieve their pecuniary objectives.
I hope you do not come to the conclusion that I object to the concept of one man one vote. No! I am a democrat, but we must recognise that this human system has big flaws. It can be hijacked and is being hijacked with dire consequences. See what is happening in Nigeria today.
I had asked a big player in the immediate past Nigerian government why the government does not appear to listen to what the Nigerian intelligentsia says. He looked at me, sighed and said mockingly, “the government does not need the votes of the intelligentsia. Their vote is too expensive! Go to the motor park and the marketplace with some bags of rice, salt, ogogoro and some Naira notes and all the votes you are looking for will be there with very little grammar”. That is why thugs with money and power have taken over Nigeria.
You see the wahala with one man, one vote?
See you next week.