IT is true that every political leader prefers to be classified as a democrat. Unfortunately, many of these political leaders do not understand the true meaning of democracy, or they prefer to construct their own concept of democracy. The above relates to the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole. It is either he does not understand the true meaning of democracy or he has decided to embark on the construction of his own concept of democracy.
The lack of understanding of the true meaning of democracy or the deliberate construction of a convenient concept of democracy is the major index of tyrannical and dictatorial political leadership. In the contemporary world, we have seen the efforts of Russian and Chinese political leadership to convince the world into accepting their own mode of democracy. The Russian and Chinese political leadership will frown at any individual that refuses to classify them as democrats. Maximum rulers in North Korea and Syria are laughing at the world for refusing to accept them as democrats. Most recently, we have seen the conduct of a unique “free and fair” election by Asaad, the Syrian President. The USA, Britain, European Union and other democratic nations of the world described Assad’s election as a monumental fraud, but Asaad is in Damascus celebrating his victory in “Freest and fairest” election ever conducted in Syria.
Democracy is about procedure. The procedure must be transparent, known to and acceptable to all the participants. Democracy is about the Rule of Law. The rules and regulations for the participation and the rules and regulations for the organisation that is involved in the democratic process must be obeyed by all the participants. In other words, any organisation such as a political party or state that claims to be democratic must demonstrate the rule of law through adherence to the rules, guidelines and regulations.
Democracy is all about the attainment of Justice. The ultimate goal of a democratic political party or a state is to serve the purpose of justice to all its members. Justice is about transparency, merit, fairness and an outcome that is acceptable to all. It is the acceptability of the outcome of the process that defines “consent”. A political party that professes democracy or a state that claim to be democratic without the consent of its members for the representative authority is operating within the construct of a “contradictory democracy”.
This is the case of Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo State. The All Progressive Congress (APC) and the government of Edo State as presently led by Adams Oshiomhole are operating within the confines of a “contradictory democracy”. To sustain this contradiction and mislead the general public, the governor has no choice but to toe the path of all other world dictators who continuously exhibit ignorance of the true meaning of democracy or deliberately reconstruct their own fashion of democracy.
I watched the governor on Thursday, 5th June, 2014 on the Independent Television (ITV – Benin) and read with disappointment, though not surprise, the comments of Adams Oshiomhole on the Vanguard Newspaper of 5th June, 2014, page 12, where he stated that: “The APC lawmakers in Edo State House of Assembly who defected to PDP are ingrates, I marketed some of these people who were not known in their neighbourhoods, who rode on my back to get to the House of Assembly and some of them cannot walk on their streets”. For those professional hypocrites and praise singers of Adams Oshiomhole, we do not need to argue that what the governor said was absolutely incorrect. It is pertinent to ask those professional hypocrites and praise singers whether these statements portray Oshiomhole as a governor who understands the true meaning of democracy. From the comments of the governor, it follows that the remaining APC lawmakers in the House of Assembly are grateful to the governor who marketed them instead of their constituents, they were not known in their neighbourhood, they rode on the back of the governor and did not get elected by the decision of the electorate and some of them cannot walk on their streets.
Oshiomhole has consistently violated the rules and regulations of his party. The defunct ACN under his leadership had no regard for internal democracy. The candidates for election from ward councilor to all elective offices were not allowed to participate in a free and fair party primaries. The process of selection was his sole responsibility, with his posturing as the sole proprietor of his then political party. It is therefore not surprising that the governor could unabashedly come out and assert that the assembly members he imposed on the people of Edo are not known in their neighbourhood and cannot walk on their streets. Oshiomhole’s revelation of how his assembly members, not Edo assembly members emerged does not support the cardinal principles of democracy. It is anathema to democratic process, it is a violation of the principle of the rule of law and it is a mockery of justice which is the ultimate aim of democracy.
I am yet to comment fully on the conduct of the APC congresses in Edo which actually caused the mass exodus of APC members to PDP in the state, but it is noteworthy that the APC congresses further confirmed the ignorance of Oshiomhole as to the true meaning of democracy and his deliberate effort to reconstruct this own meaning of democracy. The chairmen and members of the congress committee appointed by the national secretariat of the APC to conduct congresses in the state were holed up in Government house, Benin City, and the majority of the APC members were excluded from participating in the ward, local government and state congresses. Despite this obvious violation of APC guidelines for the conduct of congresses and glaring disregard of democratic procedure, the governor and his professional hypocrites want the world to believe that Edo APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole is democratic.
Edo people are desirous of an assembly whose members will be elected by Edo people by virtue of their known antecedents, merit, knowledge of the neighborhood and the people they aspire to represent. Edo people do not want assembly members that will ride on the back of Oshiomhole to get into the House of Assembly. The 2015 general election will be an opportunity to demonstrate this.
I have seen and watched a long list of solicited solidarity visits and people paid to demonstrate in support of Oshiomhole’s contradictory democracy. I completely disagree with some commentators and writers that have criticised such visits and demonstrations. Instead, we should pity the governor in his efforts to sustain his contradictory democracy. Solicited solidarity visits and paid demonstration are major strategies used by dictators to sustain their ego and glaring contradictions. A huge amount of money is usually voted for it, and special advisers and assistants are employed to look after the department. The success of this department in terms of the high traffic of solidarity visits and paid demonstrations is a mark of the speedy failure of democratic governance.
There is no internal democracy in Edo APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole and there is no democratic virtue in the governance of Edo. However, the governor has a natural right to survival whether by his ignorance of the true meaning of democracy or by his deliberate efforts to reconstruct his own type of democracy.
• Dr Osifo writes from Benin City.