By Isqil Najim
Looking at socio political mood of the country, I can see that there are three powerful tribes in Nigeria right now. All cohabiting in the same geographical entity. Each with its own mindset and clan. Each struggling for recognition and power.
The first tribe is the masses whose reality is dictated and influenced by bread and butter and individual survival. They drift in the direction coordinated by their local and national leaders; regardless of whether they like those leaders or not, as long as there are promises of better bread and butter, and of course, security of all kinds. The masses feast on hope and when carefully presented, they worship the actor(s) who delivered and could go a long way in sacrificing their life and loyalty for that person or group. Promises are the wine they can drink until they lose sanity. Strangely enough, this intoxication is well tolerated across board.
The second tribe is the tribe of intellectuals who know everything in the books as well as have clearer ideas on how to move the country and their community forward. Privately they succeeded in what they do and they know their onions. They are not just educated but very sound analytical thinkers.
However, they tend to have a penchant for taking self-delusional path that disconnects them from reality. Yes, they are educated. Yes, they are intellectually and logically sound but they forgot to marry their education with existing reality and then forge a clear workable plan to blend with the masses where they are needed and where the support is crucial. Instead, they spend time and time again condemning the Masses for being pawns and victims of poor governance and dysfunctional system. They do not realise that the best way they can achieve their reform plan is to win the hearts of the masses. They expected the masses to just reason with them.
This tribe is subdivided into two groups. .The first are the ones that want to ride to power or reform through pure intellectualism. They can be in politics or activism but they use the platform to achieve the goal of working for social reform. The second are those who think the only way to achieve this goal is through rebellion. They can be secessionists or militants and they can be bloggers who are adept at fabricating false news in a bid to force the system to drift into confusion while hoping that the confusion will compel everyone to think ‘reform’ or pander to their demand. This tribe basically use their power of oration and intellect to draw attention and achieve their goals. Sometimes they call for war and civil disobedience or outright revolution when they are frustrated.
The problem with this tribe is that they build a high wall of expectations and Utopian community around their visions. They completely assume that every other person, including the masses they “want to liberate”, do not have a vision or direction of where they want to be. So they have presumed that their own ideals are the best fit for everyone, while every one else is not as smart as them.
Unsurprisingly, they are divided among themselves to such a level that they are mostly in splinter groups. Even when they succeed in winning the affection of the masses they divide their support base to such a useless and powerless smaller groups that they barely have much impact beyond the little storm they create through media. The status quo is maintained. They are mostly victims of their own intellectualism. Every one of them sees himself as a king or potential king who cannot bow to anyone else. Hence their preference to build their own groups.
At the end of their failure, they would find a lot of people and factors to blame except themselves.
The third tribe is the tribe of politicians and clerics . They are not created out of the blue and they are not as evil as the Utopians often painted. Politicians and clerics evolve from the masses after being chosen to lead them. Some of them pass through the Utopian group and get out after realising that the world of Utopian is a blindfolded one that has chosen not to see the reality.
They work hard to identify with the masses by playing on the (masses) fantasies and expectations. They actively capitalise on the problems and challenges of the masses to build their clans. Some are genuine and some are deceitful. They all share common aspiration and have mastered the art of unity for the purpose of grabbing power.
“We versus them” is a powerful weapon they have deployed toward achieving solid power base. Unlike the Utopians that have mastered the art of disunity and segmentation. The politicians fight for power. Clerics fight for power though in subtle ways by taking absolute control of the minds and soul of the masses using some ambiguous supernatural terms that they, too, do not fully comprehend. And after the contest is won and lost, they return back to their parent platform, as a united front to battle together against the opposition, using every arsenal from tribalism, religion, to barbarism. To them, all is fair in war and politics.
What is more, there are no permanent foes among this tribe even though the masses and the Utopians are allowed to destroy each other by choice and under the invocation of patriotism and loyalism and spiritualism. The masses and Utopians think they are fighting for a cause while the politicians and clerics simply lead them on and use the opportunity to consolidate their grip on their consciousness.
When a Muslim cleric becomes a Christian he is welcomed as a new saint and admitted to join the force against Muslims. The same is true when a Christian cleric converted to Islam. In politics, it is even more pronounced as people considered to be bad become good, once they cross over to the rival party. The masses, on the other hand, cannot read into this trend and continue to hate people among themselves who have not offended them in any way except that their leaders and group condemn them as enemies and evil.
As another election period approaches, the mood in the land points to the status quo. The masses are still confused and searching for saint leaders. The election in Osun State and a couple of others point to the fact that the masses are yet to grab the reality of power struggle. They are being played like ping pong by the two other tribes who are strenuously working to have their firm grip on power for varying reasons.
It will be instructive to note that not all of the members of the tribe of masses are irrational, neither are all of the tribe of intellectuals so disconnected nor are all politicians and clerics exclusively self-centered. However, in the game of numbers, the majority voices rent the air just as their will will predominate and define the group.
The road to genuine reform lies with the masses and this will happen when the tribe of intellectuals learn to concentrate their energy and unite without everyone thinking and seeing himself as a potential king in a divided Kingdom. When this happens, the tribe of politicians and clerics will loose their grip on power and a new order entrenched.
Anton Chekhov was right when he said: “Man will become better when you show him what he is like”
Isqil Najim tweets @isqilnajim
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Oriental Times
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