The greatest threat to democracy in Cross River is not Imoke, but the leaders, the intellectuals, and the masses. This thesis is predicated on a critical evaluation of the prevailing political fix in our state, arising largely from historical political contradictions, the result of dysfunctional leadership that has rendered the people powerless, hopeless and helpless, compounded by intellectual hypocrisy.
I train to analyze politics scientifically and make predictive explanations of political events and behaviors that shape such events using mathematical equations. This kind of reasoning is dominant among political scientists in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.
For a long time I was looking at Nigerian politics through this lens. I thought I could use equations to predict outcome or Western political philosophy to understand human or political behavior. But the unfolding drama in Cross River defies this theoretical logic.
I am beginning to question whether Nigerian political scientists can claim objectivity in their methods of studying or theorizing Nigerian politics. I am wondering if there are domestic and context specific theories or methods of analyzing Nigerian politics or whether we simply adapt Western philosophy in our attempt to make sense of local political events. Above all, it’s appalling, but also interesting what conclusions are emerging from our analysis of Cross River politics.
These questions have become necessary to clarify some misinformation about the unfolding drama. I am prompted to raise these questions because of the intellectual hypocrisy that so becloud our sense of judgment, that blind us to political reality, and that narrow our reasoning. This hypocrisy constitutes a burden to our individual and collective memories.
I am saddened by the attempt to reduce objectivity to the reasoning of intellectuals who chose to demonize Imoke in other to promote Florence Ita-Giwa as Deputy Governor to Jedy Agba. And we think that citing Western philosophy to explain unrelated political phenomenon in any way make us less vulnerable to intellectual hypocrisy?
Can any reasonable person point to a single theory that explains the unfolding drama in Cross River? How do you theorize a democracy based on hypocrisy and corruption from above or below and expect to establish a moral foundation for your argument to the extent of casting blames where they do not exist? How do you theorize a political situation where the masses are suffering in poverty and insecurity and crying for jobs and good roads while politicians are arriving with hand sanitizers? This is symbolic oppression.
And then we condemn Governor Imoke’s political calculations and miscalculations, yet position ourselves as objective analysts. How do we maintain objectivity by demonizing one party or individual? What has been our contribution to the political process? What actions have we taken to correct the injustice we criticize?
In moments like this, I base my logic on neither realism nor constructivism. I chose to be pragmatic. Pragmatism is where political outcome is measured against practices that are working in a specific context. I argue that the context of our politics must be understood through events that shaped our political destiny since 2009.
Perhaps, if Donald Duke won election by imposing all 18 local government chairmen or sending armored tanks to destroy his opponents and even incarcerating some, he has defined a new way of looking at politics and the context of theoretical analysis.
If Imoke decides to emulate Donald Duke’s example, then Duke’s actions can be reasonably justified as a worldview, maybe the rise of “Political Dukism.” So how do we blame an individual for subscribing to a theory he didn’t create?
This raises another set of questions: Who killed opposition politics in Cross River? Who initiated imposition politics in Cross River? Who introduced violence in Cross River politics? Was Imoke the governor of Cross River State when these problems started?
The truth is these problems were created by Donald Duke. I would argue that Duke laid a faulty political foundation for Cross River. Imoke built on a foundation already laid by Duke. Some of Imoke’s greatest critics today contributed to the building process.
Yet the same Donald Duke came back to impose a candidate on Cross Riverians and all am reading from the intellectuals are lessons in Political Science, that is, lessons that Imoke didn’t learn or could have learned. They have silenced the critical lessons emerging from the historical foundation of our problems so long as they are indirectly looking for tactical ways to endorse Jedy Agba and grab his money. For me, this is the worst form of irrationality that produces followership, couched in cheap and irrelevant endorsements based primarily on eye service.
There is a second group of intellectuals blaming Imoke for every problem but taking directives from Governor Amaechi – a man that is considered to be intellectually and morally inferior to Imoke. Amaechi literarily controls the Cross River APC platform. From his home in Rivers State, he decides who become the APC chairman and other exco members.
I was ashamed to hear that Cross River APC, despite the change they preach, could not conduct simple election to determine its leaders at the state level until Amaechi intervened to impose the candidates of choice.
The same people will not give us a break about Imoke. Where is our pride? Today, some APC stalwarts are patiently waiting for Jedy Agba to defect to their party as insinuated and then grease their palms in secret. Some are ready to go against, if not already gone against, their party philosophy, just to grab money.
At the same time, most of us have been educating the public to make rational decisions based on vision. We have been asking Jedy Agba to sell himself based on his vision not his wealth. But the reality is that the size of a man’s pocket attracts more followership than the size of his vision.
I argue therefore, that Imoke didn’t make any mistake that caused people to gravitate towards Jedy. It is our nature of politics. This exemplifies the concept of “stomach infrastructure” – the politics of hunger and the hungry. If not, Emmanuel Ibeshi has communicated the best vision so far on how to propel our economy.
I will argue further that the politics of greed, hunger and the hungry has contributed in our lost political destiny. This has gotten us to where we are today, not Imoke as many are arguing. Imoke is playing the politics of the land. While some are arguing that the man has made a mistake, it might just be that our politics require such mistakes to happen for the needed political transformation in Cross River that would revive opposition politics.
Otherwise, what do we expect by selling our future over a meal and then turn back to vilify leaders who do not meet our expectation? How do we expect a man to spend billions of Nairas in campaign and not loot our treasury to recover his investment?
But when we support a leader – whether Jedy or Ntufam or Legor etc – for communicating a persuasive vision, we can certainly hold him accountable in the event that he fails to deliver on his promises.
This is why I chose to understand politics through practices that are working in a particular context rather than attempting to theorize the impossible. The behaviors of leaders, intellectuals, and the masses have so much to teach us about our political destiny.
Culled from Obasesam Okoi’s facebook timeline.
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