We are said to be the largest black democracy in the world, which is quite an achievement. But what brand of democracy do we operate? After much thought, I am inclined to conclude that our system of government is in reality a Theocracy. Democracy is defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives, or as more popularly defined by Abraham Lincoln, a government of the people, for the people by the people. Meanwhile theocracy is defined as a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, or ‘a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God’. In a nation where we don’t hold our elected officials accountable but leave everything to God, are we practicing a democracy or a Theocracy?
Our collective brand identity is riddled with contradictions. While our ratio of religious institutions per person is the highest you may find anywhere in the world we are also ranked as one of the most mismanaged and corrupt societies on earth. We are slowly but painfully evolving this democracy and trying to make it work but it is as clear as day that it is simply not working. The strident cries of marginalization and clamour for restructuring shows us that our brand of democracy is but a contraption designed for other climes and contrived for us. We have not designed a unique brand of democratic system that takes into account our socio-cultural profile and our psycho social constitution as a people. We believe that all power belongs to God and He gives whom He pleases. That’s why we hero-worship our leaders even when they have fail woefully in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people. That is why the concept of ‘servant leader’ is alien to us. Our leaders simple see themselves as lords over us and expect to be worshipped.
In our historical kingdoms, the king was believed to have been divinely chosen, and was therefore beyond reproach. His word was law and no one would dare question the king. This is antithetical to the concept of democracy. In this country, we believe that in all things we should give thanks to God. We are constantly told in the churches that it is only because God loves our country that things are not worse than they are. This painful reality we daily cope with is only by the Grace of God, we are told. If it wasn’t for the special love that God has for our country, we would all have perished by now according to the priests. Religion has become deeply ingrained in our very essence to the extent that we simply hand over everything to God. When we have debates about the problems facing our country, we usually conclude with ‘May God save us’ or ‘Only God can rescue us’.
Meanwhile, two groups of people have formed an unholy alliance to benefit from this collective mentality. They are the politicians and pastors. In fact, political aspirants now make religious leaders key players in their campaigns. During the last elections, it was widely reported in the media that religious leaders were paid billions of naira to sway their followers in favour of particular contestants. The outcome of this criminal alliance is the continuous exploitation of our people by these parasites who disguise as preachers and leaders. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing who daily devour us flesh and bone! Our political leaders earn so much and steal even much more than they earn. Yet when they don’t do their job, we turn to God for divine intervention.
One of the most respected religious leaders in this country recently proclaimed that only God can deliver us from economic recession. What then, if I may ask, is our leaders’ job? Should they fold their arms and wait for God to take over Buhari’s desk at Aso Villa and run the affairs of state? The increasing incursion of religious leaders in political affairs should concern all those who want the progress of our country. Politicians make campaign promises, and we elect them on the basis of those promises. So when the preachers tell us only God can solve our problems, they are indirectly asking these politicians to dishonour their promises!
God has given us the power to choose and it is only by insisting on our democratic rights that we can overcome these greedy parasites. We must become more active in demanding accountability from our leaders. In our respective individual lives, we do not tell our landlords that only God can pay his rent. Neither do we ask God to come and fix our broken down car, or tell the schools our children attend that God will pay them the fees. But when it comes to governance and our nation, we leave everything to God. Because the religious and political leaders tell us that only God can solve the problems. I am yet to see any country on earth giving a testimony that God built their roads and developed their infrastructure. People are charged with specific responsibility. And they owe it to God and their people to perform such responsibility. Those who are telling us that only God can solve our social and economic problems are guilty of grand deceit. God has not given them any such message to pass on to His people.
This criminal alliance between our political and religious leaders has turned our democracy into a pseudo-theocracy with the sole objective of perpetual deceit. It has indeed evolved into the biggest scam known to man as it has subjected the world’s largest black population to perennial poverty and slavery. We must remove the scale from our eyes and wake up from this induced coma. We must insist on developing a system of government that works for our people. God has given us all the resources we need to build a happy and prosperous nation. This endless state of suffering can never be justified.
We have to begin by restructuring our minds and reject all this deceit in the name of God. Whether we achieve it through political restructuring or by any other means, we must urgently develop our own brand of democracy which works for our people and delivers us from the murderous grip of these agents of deceit.
Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.