“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The clandestine political scuffle in Adamawa, my home State, is a sickening reminder of how individuals and families take ownership of government through the politics of might.
There are two sides in this fight for the soul of the state. On one side is the elected governor, Senator Muhammadu Jibrilla Bindow, and on the other a crew of Abuja based political “kingmakers”, who appear prepared to stop at nothing in their bid to wrest power from Governor Bindow come 2019 election.
In this cold war, every trick is employed. The well-read are hired as surrogates and media acolytes to pen and publish partisan assertions in mainstream and alternative (social) media, while ordinary citizens who bear the scars of hunger and poverty are hired as foot soldiers to take political loyalty beyond the normal demands of citizenship by spreading mistaken narratives on the streets.
Sadly, these victims and objects of subversive machinations by selfish individuals have, in many instances, failed to decipher that counterfactual political conspiracies shrouded in secrecy have over the years formed the basis of our underdevelopment.
To put it bluntly, the underprivileged in my region are often misled and firmly hooked on to the leash of the moneyed while advancing personal and political interests of the people in power or those working their way there.
The trend is troubling in its own right, and an attempt to make the unreasonable compatible with the reasonable.
Truth is, even before it was carved out of the defunct Gongola State, the entire land had suffered continuous rape from leaders who swore to by their faiths to carry out their duties honourably. The land was reduced to her lowest locus by corruption and the pilfering of state and local government funds.
To find the least offensive way of describing it, corruption was institutionalised. Misappropriation reigned supreme. Monthly distribution of funds from the state coffers, ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands to individuals, was said to be an entrenched norm. Office holders purloined funds amounting to billions meant for rural, health and educational projects with impunity. The Shelleng/Kiri road project constantly neglected but used to filch funds by successive governments since 1976 is one example.
In a rational world, leaders’ highest imperative would be to understand the threat that confronts their people rather than treating citizens like some hirelings who have no say in the direction the state should take.
Of recent, work on the Shelleng/Kiri road was continued by the Governor Bindow-led cabinet in prolongation of their road revolution exploits. But in a highly anticipated move, many are worried this attempt to put the project to rest might fail like it had in the past. Who wculd have predicted that Adamawa would see a “road revolution” and an attempt to end constant sharing of state funds amongst family and friends of public officials, and those in power?
For one thing, it has become difficult to evaluate the performance of Governor Bindow without incurring the wrath of some people who think otherwise or hold party difference grudge against him and his cabinet. I am not a propagandist. But I really struggle to understand how anyone would turn blind eyes to an evolving headway in a land once left in rot.
Whatever the case, I am of the opinion that we pay more attention and see how it pans out. The politicians’ have promised to move our state forward. But only the watchfulness of the people would get us there.
Finally, as we shake off the objectionable experience of the last local government chairmanship elections in some parts of the state, we should continue to promote unity in our pursuit for advancing and expanding the borderlines of development. We must avoid the disease of blind loyalty and become advocates of platforms for reasoning upon which democratic growth can be built. We should ensure the state moves towards development, instead of degeneration.
David Dimas, a author, blogger and inspirational speaker, writes from Laurel, Maryland, U.S.A. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dimas4real.