Not long ago, Mr. Mujahid Abubakr Dokubo-Asari of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, along with other groups from North-central, South-east and South-south geopolitical zones were said to have held a meeting to strategize on how to retain power in Nigeria beyond 2015. According to reports, part of the agenda is to ensure that power does not shift to the core North now or in the nearest future. Mr. Dokubo-Asari and his group have not denied this meeting and its agenda.
Surely, part of the strength of a democracy lies in the extent of its openness. Thus, on the surface, the openness of democracy would seem to confer moral soundness and legitimacy on Mr. Asari’s groups and their agenda. Also, it would confer same soundness on the agenda of similar zonal groups who are presumably doing the same thing Mr. Dokubo-Asari’s groups are doing-either to get back power or to strategize on how not to relinquish power. But this is an unsound proposition for it is not obvious if this is what ought to be the face of power or how it ought to be used.
Talking about power this way without showing how it has benefited the material and living conditions of Nigerians is morally unsound because the open nature of democracy that allows people to articulate their position is one thing, what is done with such openness is another.
Thus, there is a serious moral problem with the agenda of Mr. Dokubo-Asari and similar agenda across all of Nigeria’s political zones that are ready to take advantage of the openness of democracy while ignoring the moral entanglements, and moral expectations and obligations of democracy to Nigerians and their material conditions.
This is because Mr. Asari and other so-called leaders of Nigeria’s geographical zones on one hand protect their political elites who wantonly raid and loot the resources of the country and store them for their families while on the other hand they take public stand on behalf of the “masses” and some silly, ill-conceived and amorphous geographical zones. The relevant question is never asked, which is that: what have the likes of Mr. Dokubo-Asari – who perhaps must have felt he and his terrorist and armed bands in the Niger Delta are responsible for Mr. Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency – done to improve the living and material conditions of the “masses” on whose behalf they want to remind us they hold power and wish to retain it?
Until Mr. Dokubo-Asari’s open declaration, I never knew that power is seen in our country as residing in a particular zone, or that it is being held on behalf of a zone, and that it is waiting either to be retained in its present zone of residence or reclaimed by power’s previous hosts. This seems to be a dreadful conception of power in our country, a country that is facing serious challenges of infrastructure and massive poverty. This conception of power, which is not tied to how the living conditions of peoples are improved on a massive scale, simply shows that the so-called present power hosts implied by and in Mr. Dokubo-Asari’s words do not care a hoot about Nigeria. And that is sad.
And If Mr. Asari’s proposition is true and not challenged by the presidency, it implies that the president, Goodluck Jonathan is seen as ruling on behalf of Mr. Dokubo –Asari’s zone and not on behalf of Nigerians, and that other zones are trying to dislodge Mr. Goodluck Jonathan on behalf of their own zones. This is equally silly and unserious when the primary task is how to make Nigeria work and become competitive and attractive again.
Some commentators see this way of looking at power as a recipe for disintegration. While they may be right, I think Mr. Dokubo-Asari and his clique’s way of looking at power in the 21st century is worse than being a recipe for disintegration. The simple thought of keeping power on behalf of a zone is primitive, it is archaic, it is a village conception of power, and it is morally opportunistic.
Sadly, given the environmental devastation, historical neglect and the acute injustice and poverty in the oil producing areas of our country, Nigerians understand the basis of the position and demands of the oil producing areas of Nigeria. But what are incomprehensible are the demands of elements like Mr. Asari on one hand and the readiness to look the other way when leaders from same region loot and raid the treasuries of their zone. When zonal men like Mr. Dokubo-Asari are ready to look the other way when their own political elites raid the treasuries in “their zone” we must ask for the meaning of power.
In this regard, I will like to know what Mr. Asari thinks of the daylight robbery and raid that both Messrs Diepreye Alamieyeseigba and James Ibori, former governors from the same zone as Mr. Dokubo-Asari, conducted on the treasuries from their zone and what this means for power. Were Messrs Alamieyeseigba and Ibori holding power on behalf of their peoples? What is the impact of their keeping power on qualitative education, security, food, good clothing, infrastructure etc. I am not sure if Mr. Dokubo-Asari’s understanding of power has any moral content to it beyond the crudity and nakedness of power and that is morally unsound.
Adeolu Ademoyo: email@example.com Africana Studies Department, Cornell University, Ithaca New York.