Elites are powerful, very powerful; especially so the political elites otherwise also called the power elites. Philosophers, political theorists and thinkers posit that the history of all societies is the history of elite rule. Elections do not abolish elites but merely replace one set with another. What even a revolution achieves is the replacement of one set of elites with another. The people never ever rule; elites do!
Geraint Parry, in the introduction to his Political Elites, began the discussion thus: Ever since the issue of the political role of elites – small minorities who appear to play an exceptionally influential part in political and social affairs – was first explicitly raised with relation to liberal societies in the closing decades of the 19th century, it has remained a central concern of political science, sociology and political and social thought. For some, elites are the ‘decision-makers’ of the society whose power is not subject to control by any other body in the society. For others, elites are the sole source of values in the society or constitute the integrating force in the community without which it may fall apart. Elites have been regarded as the chief threat to the survival of democracy. Their existence has been taken to be the very denial of democracy. Elites which have exceptional access to ‘key positions’ in the society or which appear to wield control over crucial policies disproportionate to their numbers can understandably seem to be living contradictions of the notion of ‘government of the people’ Despite this, other writers have seen elites as the bulwarks of democracy, protecting it from the dangers of totalitarianism”
As in most things Nigerian, the best of the benefits of elites in other lands have eluded us here while we have seen the worst of its drawbacks. A case in point is the ongoing Sanusi Lamido Sanusi dethronement debacle where the elites are not only papering over his alleged atrocities but are also blatantly and garrulously presenting him as a saint and presidential material come 2023! You would then think 2023 was the real reason Sanusi was taken off his stool, and that all the orchestrated “disagreement” between him and Kano State’s Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje (aka Gandu-dollar) were mere make-believe and the usual elite ploy and conspiracy to draw the wool over our eyes and railroad us into another “one chance” bus like they did in 2015 and, again, in 2019!
Realising the dangers that unrestrained elite influence and power pose to the rights and well-being of citizens, thinkers from time immemorial have advanced the rights of man to rebel against bad rulers; the necessity for rulers to derive their authority from the citizens and to be subject to them; hence, the theory of the social contract which emphasizes the citizens as sovereign and the source of all powers; hence, also, the theory of separation of powers between the three arms of government. Not done yet, modern society has installed a fourth estate of the realm in a free press saddled with the responsibility of holding government accountable to the governed. But only where strong institutions exist do we have a semblance of these benefits.
In Nigeria where the Executive looms large and makes a mockery of Montesquieu, the Legislature and Judiciary are often seen as pliant; the truth, however, is that here, all three arms of government are members of the same political elite, a comprador class with same interests and objectives, mingling freely and crossing carpets at will. The motivation is where their bread is buttered – without scruples, principles or the oft-trumpeted common man’s interests considered. The bestiality of the Nigerian political elites has been on open and naked display since the Sanusi saga unfolded last week. It has been a parade of the naked, churn of all decency and decorum and throwing all pretensions to the wind!
Fortunately, not everyone is sucked into this vortex of impunity and crass class solidarity. One man who has taken exception to the Sanusi theatre of the absurd is a friend of long-standing, Ayo Lijadu. An accomplished theatre man himself and younger brother to the famous Lijadu Sisters (one of whom transited recently), enraged Ayo considers what is going on as one theatre too many. I publish here excerpts of his intervention titled Like Ese Oruru, Like Lamido Sanusi.
“The kidnapping of Ese Rita Oruru, the youngest child of Charles and Rose Oruru, occurred on 12 August, 2015 at her mother’s shop in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Ese, then 13 years, was abducted by one Yunusa Dahiru (alias Yellow) and taken to Kano where she was raped, forcibly Islamized and married off without her parents’ consent. The conversion and marriage took place in the palace of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.” (Culled from Wikipedia)
Days ago, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, erstwhile Emir of Kano, was also forcibly removed from his opulent palace where, five years earlier, Ese had been forcibly converted to Islam and married, without her consent or that of her parents, to one of Sanusi’s subjects and under Sanusi’s watch!
Since Sanisi’s dethronement, there has been a cacophony of voices eulogising to high heavens the “quintessential qualities” of the man Sanusi! Oh, what an exemplary reformer; fighter for the oppressed and downtrodden talakawas and almajiris of the North; fighter and defender of the girl-child and the female gender; what a blessing not only to the North, his region of origin, but also to Nigeria as a whole! Some have even started to canvass that he is a worthy material for President, come 2023!
We are, indeed, a people with such stunted, retarded, and diminishing memories and muddled up and diluted principles; fickle, and lacking in morals and integrity who abhor upholding the truth and standing by it at ALL times!
A man, a leader, an exalted and revered king such as Sanusi was at the time of Ese Oruru’s illegal and criminal abduction, forcible faith conversion and marriage, who could have, by fiat, ordered her immediate return to her parents and prevent such criminal and ungodly act within his palace, the headquarters of his domain in which he was the ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY, Sanusi did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING until overwhelming public outcry compelled him to make a reluctant intervention – but not before the hapless girl had been severally sexually violated and impregnated.
Even the Inspector General of police at the time, Solomon Arase, when confronted with the Nigerian Police’s inability to effect Ese Oruru’s release, was reported to have said Ese Oruru’s release was “dependent on the intervention of the Emir”!
It is this same man that thoughtless people, even those you respect as highly cerebral, introspective, and current with recent history, are singing his praises and vaunting as a reformer, intellectual, and progressive! Where did Sanusi throw all these ‘progressive qualities’ when a hapless and helpless girl was thrown virtually at his mercy; yet, he did nothing? Is it because, as an Islamic extremist, he saw nothing wrong in the forcible conversion and marriage of an under-aged ‘kaferi’ with no rights?
Sanusi could not even demonstrate the natural, sympathetic fatherly instinct towards Ese Oruru! Recently, I watched a video of one of Sanusi’s daughters speaking eloquently and glowingly about her father’s “qualities” How would Sanusi have felt if that daughter or any of his other daughters had been abducted at 13 years, whisked hundreds of kilometers away, is forced to renounce Islam, raped and forced into marriage without her consent and or her parents’? Oh, how Sanusi and other Northern leaders would rage! Oh, how Kano and the entire North would erupt!
Just like they white-washed Buhari, a known religious bigot, autocrat, and ethnic irredentist, who publicly declared he would do everything in his power to see that Sharia is established everywhere across Nigeria, and they presented him as a born-again democrat ahead of the 2015 elections, these same people are again surreptitiously bombarding our sensibilities with Sanusi’s so-called high morals, integrity, and reformist credentials, and have started suggesting him as a possible presidential material ahead of the 2023 elections!
For as long as we have such short-sighted, moronic shallow thinkers among us, for so long shall the more educated, so-called more enlightened South continue to be slaves to the largely uneducated and backward North whose elites, notwithstanding, are, without doubt, more cunning, more deceptive, and more politically savvy and calculating than their Southern counterparts.
Ese was completely innocent and did not deserve the indignities she was subjected to; Sanusi, who, five years down the road, got banished from the throne and was equally subjected to indignities was not at all innocent. Sanusi’s many sins, which have been swept under the carpet, reportedly include his alleged culpability in the beheading of the Igbo trader, Gideon Akaluka, whose severed head was paraded on a spike around the streets of Kano on December 26, 1994.
Sanusi’s travails are Karma serving him dinner – a la carte. Who knows, the dessert may be on the way! Karma is a patient bitch!”
Need I say more!
Mr Bolawole is a former Editor of Punch Newspaper.
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