Africanized Democracy, National Elite Criminal Syndicates and Governance in the Third Millennium

Africanized Democracy, National Elite Criminal Syndicates, Governance , Third Millennium,
Ademola Araoye,

Ademola Araoye


Ideas regarding the deployment of foreign troops under the aegis of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ostensibly to combat terrorism in Nigeria, followed closely the decisive rejection by the public of a proposed establishment of an Africa Command (AFRICOM of the United States) military base in the Gulf of Guinea. In rapid succession came proposal for the formation of a stand by continental army to reverse military interventions on the continent. As if the provocative assaults were not enough, lately the notion of an “Africanized” democracy came from the familiar mill of dignified ludicrousness. As expected and as usual, the last was purveyed at a symbolically high fallutin status quo platform bereft of meaningful renowned credentials for serious intellectual perorations; the gathering of a self-serving political elite. These seemingly important enterprises were floated by the government and other public stakeholders with high visibility in the public domain. The issues raised are indeed elements of significant salience in the atomistic deconstructions of the larger profound and fundamental challenge of the post-colonial African state. The propositions, clearly borne out of the desperation of a delegitimized ruling class across the continent, were thus bound to elicit critical interrogations. The prescriptions entailed in the alluded ideas reveal an embarrassing dearth of appreciation of the radically altered character of state-society relation in the Information age, the vision of ascendant progressive impulses across the continent to recalibrate relations with the External Order by all means possible, including through restorative and restitutive military interventions in state affairs, and, critically, reflects an abject understanding of the implications of the dissipation of the old pretensions to homogenized political sensibilities on the continent. A lingering residue of the hollow rhetoric of old remains evident, but the practical expressions of the vacuity of the rhetoric of old fashioned pretend African unity stares the discerning and serious analyst in the face. The impact of the digital age has been very manifest in the multi-dimensional crisis emanating from clear normative and value dissonances in the competing visions of the future of Africa. The evidence for this for those equipped with acute discernment is just down the road. The facts lie close by: North, West and East of Abuja.

From a holistic perspective, the deconstructed and atomistic discursive narratives are all certainly integral to the more difficult discourse around the ultimate destination of the incipient revolutionary trajectory that Africa has taken at the end of the first quarter and the second decade of the Third millennium. In this crisis of the ultimate vision of the futures of Africa, the preferred choices by state actors and human agencies advocating diverse and clashing ideo-philosophical orientations are clearly delineated. An epochal collision of contradictory impulses and sensibilities across the continent is unfolding. These clashes can be appreciated at two levels of analytic engagement: at the level of the pervasive internal tumult of the post-colonial African state and in the context of the potential confrontational bifurcation of the continental strategic landscape. The two elements, though conceptually distinct, are interactive. The second factor seriously impinges the dynamic and outcomes of the turbulence that may cognitively be understood to be internal to the African state. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Somalia- four of the most populous states in Africa and three of the largest countries on the continent are all embroiled in internal conflicts that, in most instances, are traceable to a lack of a common organic glue to inspire life to the mechanically cobbled state spaces. Inherent in that scenario is the security dilemma that these amorphous entities are unable to transcend. To be sure, shorn of the euphemisms of political correctness, there had never been homogenized political sensibilities either within the state and, worse still, at the continental level to motorize common strategic policy frame works  and action across the patchwork of territorial silos under exploitative local headmen that are often beholden to the External Other. These are what are called states in Africa. They are proxies in the willing service of the puppet masters. Even today. That’s the condition for the gifting of continued international sovereignty that they enjoy. This is both because of and in spite of the rickety internal affairs, in particular to buy silence for the license to literally kill, maim and silence any dissent.

Accordingly, the paradigms of governing across the mechanically cobbled political entities of dubious value that litter across the continent conveniently repudiated humanistic values that are axiomatic underpinnings of authentic statehood. In its stead has been enthroned preference for coercion as the principal default instrument to advance the partisan cause of the criminal syndicates of the national elite that go for political parties and eventually for government in the largely deconsolidated state spaces of the continent. In this post-colonial state setting, humanistic values posed a threat to democratic practice. Democratic practice in Africa conveniently sidetracked the tenets of liberalism that are recognized as inalienable fundamentals and requisite guard rails of the social contract. Therefore, Africa long invented its brand of counterfeited democracy as convenient instruments to elicit bogus internal and external validation of monstrous governing practices that criminalized the free expressions of the autonomy of the will of the people. Coercion and deformation of democratic practice characterized by entrenched process chicanery became normative. These are reflexive of the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo (Brazzaville), Uganda, among many others. Therefore, against the ugly evolution of democratic practice in Africa, a proposed idea of an Africanized democracy can only elicit skepticism. This is particular so, when the major articulators of the envisaged retrogressive future of “Africanized democracy” have controversial dossiers on the practice of liberal democracy. There is thus an apparent misdiagnosis of the challenge of democratic practice on the continent. It is averred here that as often with all the malaise of the African state, the real challenge of democratic practice lies in the lack of imagination to rise above the booby traps inherent in the complexities of the social construction of the state with mechanical antecedence that lacks a common will. Along with this is the subversion of all the guard rails for the protection of humanity of the person and groups as legitimate stakeholders in the project of state consolidation. Worse still is the temperament and exploitative comportment of the human operators of politics as a “do or die” combat with no room for compromise, retreat or even flights. Finally and most compelling is the non-negotiable imperative to jettison the idea of the state as a sacred institution created by God. The state on Earth has to constantly validate itself through continued salience and relevance to the aspiration of the totality of its constituents. Otherwise, that state would have no reason to continue to exist. No amount of coercive instruments deployed can salvage the life of a state that has outlived its usefulness or not even satiated the natural instincts of humanity for freedom, autonomy and expressions of divinely ordained rights. Paradoxically, the need to fulfil these is the raison d’etre of the state. And democracy across the globe has proven to be the best mechanism to achieve this evolved mandate of the state that places the individual at the center of its universe. Democracy, where its values are faithfully adhered to, is in fact the ultimate conflict management tool in complex social constructions of multi-national state such as Nigeria.

For clarity and emphasis, the evolution of the universe of humanity in the Third millennium has whittled down the centrality of state and sovereignty as a determinant imperative in the affairs of the individual and society in relation to the state. Old conceptions of sovereignty are giving way to more human-centered mode of social organization. The management of the state is purposively to advance the dignity of the self and the collectivities represented in the state space. This is reflected in the movement away from principles of governing associated with the preeminence of the state to a new paradigm in the organization of society largely alluded to as public governance. Public governance fundamentally rejects the overwhelming centrality of the state in human affairs and its control and administrative mechanisms infused in the practice of public administration. Public governance is the art or science of managing human affairs to achieve, perceptually and in existential reality, the greatest welfare of the greatest proportion of society. This is achieved through effective mobilization of all stakeholders and the most inclusive participation of all partisan constituents and diverse interests within the state space. In depth penetration is thus an inviolable imperative in public governance. The cardinal principles of public governance are thus the barest application of coercion and optimized deployment of consultative suasion as the instrument of the management of conflict in advancing the common and public good that is distilled from the cacophony of legitimate voices and clashing interests of a multiplicity. The ultimate objective of is to attain beneficial dividends across the system from ordered social interactions of all interests and stakeholders in the polity. These are practical expressions of the substantive tenets as well as the procedural requisites of classic democracy. What then would Africanized democracy look like? A Mobutiste One Man State, a Kerekouan One Party State, a Sassou Nguessoan life rule, a buffoonery of an African empire of a Jean Bedel Bokassa, the embarrassing gerontocracy of a Paul Biya, a Houphouet Boigny and who knows, the egomania and kleptomania of the sleek Nigerian “democrat”? Just what? Perhaps unlimited term elongation through the instrumentality of dollar saturated “Ghana Must Go” bags dispensed in the dead of the night to legislators to satiate rogue ambitions? He who comes to equity must come with clean hands, our legal luminaries affirm every time. Africanized democracy!

Meanwhile, against the background of the search for the institution of the universally acknowledged liberal sensibilities as the foundation of the post-colonial state, the force generated by the fission of colliding viewpoints defines the dynamic to the new future that is envisaged by the digital generation in Africa. The sensibilities associated with the universally shared world view of this digital generation sharply contrasts institutionalized caricature of states and the toxic operative mantra of a compromised political elite as well as the noxious principles underpinning the post-colonial African state. The clashes thus reflect the resistance of delegitimized obsolete structures, institutions, and ways against newly evolved realities that repudiate about just all that. This is not unexpected in an age when profound technological advances are altering conventional approaches to every facet of human life, including societal norms, sensibilities, values, and culture. As Africa is learning, the implications are grave. In the digital or information age, access to information has been liberalized beyond the capacity of old institutions of control, including state mechanisms, to manage. Thus, for both the state and the individual citizen, there are no more hiding places. And despotic states and regimes are naked for all to see in the market place. In the new age with roots in the mid twentieth century, unimpeded diffusion of information has in turn fuelled transformations that have impacted the evolved parameters of the legitimacy of the operations of the political realm. Accordingly, comprehensive transformations have accelerated rigorous questioning of the fundamentals of everything, including the political.  The traditional exuberant notions of inviolable sovereignty rooted in the Westphalian model has been exorcized in the evolution to the era of post-modernist statehood. The post-modern state has evolved to jettison the idea of the inviolability of state sovereignty. For good effect, the institutions of global humanity are advancing the frontiers of human centeredness against the prerogatives of statehood. The state of Israel and the United States are reeling under the evolving dispensation. Indeed, prominent analysts have advanced that the year 2024 marks entry into the next quarter of the 21st Century and also the start of the most exciting phase for the human race. As linear trajectories are anathema to history and social progressivism, the excitement of the human race derives from the potential feel of the roller coaster in the bumpy ride to the next station before the constant resumptions of ever new beginnings for humanity. But is Africa, held by the jugular by its self-serving elite governing criminal syndicates and fixated on the immovability from its obsolete structures, be part of the excitement in a global universe of constant reaffirmations of new springs?  Is further coercion of ruling or the further institutionalization or deepening of the atrocious model of African democracy a progressive futuristic vision? Or, do they simply express a desperation borne out of the fixations of old tired and unimaginative faculties incapable of appreciating the huge transformations in society and the reconfiguration of the continental strategic landscape beyond recognition by these spent forces?

In Africa, the gladiators are an entrenched pole of retrogressive demagoguery against evolved transformational forces driven by emancipatory, and restorative impulses that repudiate the very construction and practical expression of post-colonial statehood. There is therefore the alienation of society from the mission state and the delinking of the state from the aspirations of society. Such discrepancies elicit mobilization and action on all parts, including forceful extrusions of volcanic lava into the public. Coup d’etat, irredentism and secession that vitiate the monistic locus of state power are on the cards. The situation has generated pandemonium in the circle of elite criminal syndicates who dominate the contrived continental political spaces. Their common objective is to consolidate a culture of partisan loot entrenched as normative since the launching of the African state system into the global universe of states. At the other end is a “got ya” and a euphoric “about time” among the forces repudiating the foundational axioms of African statehood and its dominant governing (note, not governance), paradigms. In the last four weeks or so, panicky response to coup d’etat and the evolving reconfiguration of the strategic template on the continent has been accentuated. The advocates are mainly dubious latter-day democrats pontificating on the imperative of an Africanized democracy or opportunistic political buccaneers seeking refuge from their threatening long shadows. To complement this, has been the floating of an enhanced role for the military in West Africa and, indeed Africa. It is the old fashioned deployment of coercion to protect the integrity of contentious borders, assure the sovereignty of the state and a distraught plea to revitalize the idea of a continental African army to guarantee the longevity of the toxic and counterfeited bogus democratic regimes constituted by syndicates of criminal elites that go for political class across the continent. Both express the dearth of serious analytic explorations of the true sources of the problems of the post-colonial African statehood.

The crisis of statehood and nation building in the post-colonial state environment is rooted in the peculiarities of the processes and practice of democracy that reflect varied monstrous adaptations through vacating democracy of its core essentials and even gross distortion of the barely procedural elements. Through this defection from the principles that are inalienable to democracy, Africa is saddled with outmoded governing principles that rely heavily on the centrality of coercion in the operation of the post-colonial state. The state is thus perpetually faced with the crisis of legitimacy. The state freely deploys its coercive arm, including the security services, to seek compliance. In this scenario, the military are focused on repression of the citizen rather than the function of protecting territorial integrity against external threats. Accordingly, one key characteristic of the military in post-colonial states is that a preponderant occupation is keeping the restive citizen under control. From this emanate the dangerous mindset of deploying state coercive instruments to attack every political grievance that is aired. Recourse to consultation and full citizen participation in national affairs associated with states with high penetration of its society is alien to the post-colonial African state.  The strategy of the entrenched political syndicates is to burnish democratic credentials as if their practice of democratic governing is not at the heart of the fundamental deficits of statehood and nationhood that are expressed in the multi-dimensional crisis of legitimacy, identity, distribution, participation, gender alienation, among many others. Given the historicity of the political evolution in the post-colonial African political firmament, the effort to forge a narrative around democracy and containing coup d’etat in a faux discourse. The false discourse is reminiscent of the historic fact of the politically convenient deflections of the authentic and core tents of pan-Africanism to perpetuate the self-serving agenda of a criminal elite in a continental conspiracy of the elite against the peoples of Africa. The summation is that effective governance and leadership in the digital age have clear measurable metrics that include the pacific mitigation or resolution of conflict through constructive management of perceived interest dissonance.

The fixation on the instinctive deployment of coercion by the coalition of elite criminal syndicates to quash legitimate interests betrays the true character of the state as a private enterprise of a mafia-like organization holding society hostage. As for the proposal for an African Army, it instigates a question. Which of the contesting ideo-philosophical perspectives on the future destination of Africa would direct the structures, institutions, and operations of the continental army? Would that be The radical vision of a renascent continent deploying all means available, including restorative military interventions in state affairs, (note: not politics) to realign the locus of Africa on the hierarchical totem pole of humanity that is championed by a few but impactful progressive African states or the alternative of continued vacuous rhetoric of old roguish polipreneurs (political entrepreneurs) and criminalized elites determined to protect their ill-gotten privileges for their family of generations yet unborn? The lessons of the past are found in the alignment of African forces that protected the Mobutiste state against the progressive allies of Laurent Kabila? Or, more recently in the Sahel.