By Innocent Okon
My limited knowledge of Political Science makes me to think that there is yet no statistics and theoretical construct establishing a mutual relationship between politics and sycophancy.
But as an armchair social critic, an unchartered public affairs analyst,a lawyer and journalist at-large, I make bold to posit that politics and sycophancy are mutually inclusive!
They complement and compliment each other like rice complements stew. No politician wants to be seen and projected as a non-performing elected or appointed public officer, even when his/her score card confirms same.
In Nigeria, sycophancy was a low rewarding pastime for jobbers until one Arthur Nzeribe in the 1990s turned it into a thriving professional calling and vocation.
To prosper his self-appointed enterprise, Nzeribe floated a sophisticated, urbane and well organised Dollars/Pounds lubricated network called the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). The lone but thinly veiled objective was to project and elongate the military rulership of IBB, the self acclaimed evil genius.
Nzeribe’s novel project on state sponsored sycophancy morphed into an advanced level in mid-90s with an amoebic organisation called YOUTHS EARNESTLY ASK FOR ABACHA (YEAA). This one was headed by an urbane upwardly mobile young Nigerian of Igbo extraction called Kanu.
Like Nzeribe’s ABN, YEAA had same objective and mission: to massage the ego of the sitting military ruler for tenure elongation.
Sycophancy and constructive criticism are strange bedfellows and only few leaders would prefer the latter to the former.
A legislator wants to hear in a town hall meeting that but for him the dry weather that made it possible for the constituents to attend that meeting would have been impossible! He wants to hear that the water scheme he commissioned has increased the life expectancy of thousands, instead of a probing question on the budget size of his constituency projects!
When sycophancy holds sway, the politician rejoices at the expense of meaningful development and quality discourse on statecraft.
The politician is disconnected from his power source – the people and reality. And since the “falcon can no more hear the falconer”, coercion, intimidation and blackmail would now be deployed to make up for the shortfall in service delivery and integrity!
Both the Executive and legislative arms of our fledgling Presidential democracy have been malignantly ravaged by this Acute Service Delivery Deficiency Syndrome (ASDDS) since 1999.
But with greatest consternation, no leader, both at the national and state levels, would own up for any dismal performance traced to his stewardship!
Even the few who have been jailed for corruption would tell you that it was a grand witchhunt fuelled by religion, tribe than piety. While the nation bleeds, these politicians and professional sycophants are hands in glove projecting and defending an eldorado that only exists in their warped mental construct!
It is this despondency that provides the excitement and exhilaration when the two chambers of our national Assembly failed to disappoint expressed national yearnings, while voting on amendment of the Electoral Act, and the alteration of the 1999 constitution recently in Abuja.
From their decisions on the Electoral Act and the Constitution, you could see and feel the opinions of both the cowed elites and the hapless majority. Even when spouses of highly placed Executive gladiators decided to register their presence in the gallery as a moral force of intimidation, our gallant legislators in the Green and Red Chambers democratically expressed their people-centred decisions without fear or favour!
This is a radical departure from both the distant and not too distant past where both chambers shared notoriety as rubber stamps of the Executive arm of government.
Their landmark decisions on financial autonomy for local governments, unbundling of the power sector, value added tax (VAT) and railway transport are heartwarming and worthy of accolades.
The ball now moves to the penalty yard box of the 24 out of the 36 Houses of Assembly to make or mar this sterling contributions of our national legislators.
The Abuja legislators in both chambers have done their best and are bowing out with garlands. Let’s see if their counterparts in at least 24 states will refuse to tread this path of honour and go for infamy!
Okon,a legal practitioner, lives in Uyo