By Dele Sobowale
“There are two forces in the world; the sword and the pen. In the end, the pen will overcome the sword” -Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821.
That was true, and is still a fact, of the civilised world. But, this is Africa, the Dark Continent; and this is Nigeria, the biggest of all dark races on Earth. Here, in 2022, the contest is not between the Armed Forces of Nigeria and pen pushers as such. Today, it is a straight forward contest between two novel forms of government. One, for lack of another title, might be called Buharitocracy.
Historians and political scientists of the future might want to conduct research into the origins of this method of governance, how it emerged and how it eventually gave birth to its rival – Banditocracy. That is also a Nigerian innovation; which should be studied side by side with its parent – Buharitocracy.
Every school boy or girl knows that democracy is often described as “the government of the people, by the people and for the people”. The best definitions that we can have for Buharitocracy is “government of a small group of people, especially northerners, Katsina and Daura people, by the same group of people and for the same group of people”. Anybody else benefiting from the activities of the Federal Government from 2015 till now is only lucky. They really don’t count.
Banditocracy is a “government of northern hoodlums, by hoodlums and strictly for hoodlums. The hoodlums include Boko Haram, herdsmen, gunmen of all categories and kidnappers.
Under democracy, every citizen counts, has equal rights and governments serve at the pleasure of the people. Under Buharitocracy, a government elected by majority of eligible voters has been turned into one in which all Nigerians are equal, but some are more equal than others. Examples will follow.
Under Banditocracy, a gang of hoodlums, mostly northern Muslims, heavily armed and totally savage, establish their own fiefdom – an area which they rule by force and without the consent of voters. Buharitocracy gave birth to Banditocracy because the latter was unheard of in Nigeria until after May 29, 2015 when a new government was elected. And, with only 16 months left of Buharitocracy, the rule of hoodlums over wide areas of Nigeria might be one of the lasting legacies of the eight years the country has wasted – while going rapidly backwards.
ELEMENTS OF THEIR GOVERNANCE
“All animals are equal; some are more equal than others” – George Orwell, 1903-1950, in ANIMAL FARM.
Demonstrable and deliberate unequal treatment of Nigerians, under Buharitocracy, is one of its distinguishing attributes. When Shakespeare, 1564-1616, asked, “what’s in a name?” Buharitocracy never existed. For that matter, Nigeria was unknown. In Nigeria today, perhaps over 250,000 different names exist on our record books. Yet, two names dominate among top Federal Government officials – Mohammed/Muhammadu and Abubakar.
From the Presidency to the MDAs, the most common names of appointees are those two. The rest of us have little chance if we are competing against any of the favoured ones. It is not an accident. It is the manifestation of a mind that is totally bent on nepotism and does not give a damn how the rest of us feel about it.
Herdsmen, who, until May 29, 2015, were docile, now roam around all the states of Nigeria destroying crops, killing farmers, raping women and abducting people at the point of AK-47s. They are never arrested. But, let a farmer deal machete blow on a herdsman and the wounded invader goes to report at a police station; an arrest will surely follow. Under Buharitocracy, the immunity of herdsmen has become more important than the rights of other Nigerians.
A Muslim cleric has been visiting bandits in their dens. He has also started advocating for the FG to grant the hoodlums amnesty. He has made several trips to the bush and he remains a free man. Is it possible that an Igbo Christian clergyman can go into the bush just once, have discussions with armed IPoB members, come back, ask for amnesty for the IPoB fighters and live to go a second time? Honest readers know the answer to the question.
Obviously, security units – Army, Police, DSS – have been instructed to allow the Fulani Muslim cleric immunity which no non-Fulani Christian cleric will ever enjoy under Buharitocracy.
There is no need to list seriatim the number of ways Buharitocracy deviates from standard democracy which rests on treating all citizens as equal before the law. Even Lai Mohammed will find it difficult to deny that herdsmen, bandits and Fulani Muslim clerics visiting them have enjoyed extra-ordinary privileges which are denied to the rest of us. But, trust Lai; he will try.
WHERE THE TWO MEET – TAXATION OF PEOPLE
“Taxation and representation are inseparable” – Charles Pratt, 1714-1794.
Pratt, English jurist, lived at a time the Nigerian versions of governance have not emerged. Today, the vast majority of Nigerians are taxed one way or another (income tax, Value Added Tax, Land Use etc) by the Executive branch of government – Presidents and Governors – but their representatives in the parliaments don’t represent them. Instead, they conspire with the Executive to rob the people. Corruption did not become an issue for no reason. Voters observe how dirty, poor individuals reach office and, without any visible means of revenue, amass stupendous wealth. Citizens are taxed and revenue collected and there has been relatively little service delivery or progress.
In most states, North and South, water, sanitation services, security, education, health and power are provided by the people. Governments provide very little. Yet, they collect taxes.
For a long time, the masses in the North lagged behind their southern counterparts with respect to voicing resentments against governments for the neglect of their social responsibilities – after imposing various taxes, levies, tenement rates etc. Suddenly, the almajiris woke up first to the injustices in the system. Then, they woke up everybody else.
Few Nigerians believed me in April 2019 when the article warning Nigerians was published. Our self-deluded leaders in Aso Rock and their apologists in the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, like ostriches with head stuck in the sand, had hoped that the revolt was a passing phase. Now, everybody can see how prophetic that article was. Here is the article partly recalled:
“FROM BEGGING TO BANDITRY: REVOLT OF THE ALMAJIRIS
“No revolution is the fault of the people but the fault of the government” – Johann Goethe, 1749-1832, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ.
A revolution is underway in northern states of Nigeria. The downtrodden constituting 99.9 per cent of the population, hitherto docile beggars, saying rankaindede to the privileged 0.1 per cent, are sick and tired of begging. They are now demanding their own share of “the national cake” to be delivered to them – at gun or cutlass points. Nigeria will never be the same again. The North is now gradually sliding into the dictatorship of the beggars or almajiris”.
“N24m tax demand by bandits: We dare not disobey – Zamfara communities lament” (News Report, January 29, 2022).
Rural communities in Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara know who rules them. They may refuse to pay levies imposed by Buhari and Governors. A Senator, who, despite almost twenty-five years occupying different high-profile public positions, had not paid up to one million Naira in taxes all his life, paid bandits in his state N25 million within a week when his mother and daughter were snatched by bandits. They dared not fail to pay the rulers of Banditocracy. That is their government NOW!