The scenario is well known to Nigerians: meetings are held in the dead of the night and with adequate precaution in order not to give anything away. Plans are made and, in some particular cases, signatures are collected clandestinely; nothing is done to allow the person who is at the centre of the plan to have any whiff of the negative action in the making against him or her. In some specific cases where the person gets alerted, elaborate designs are presented even publicly to assure him or her that nothing is amiss and that all is well including his or her position. Then the D-day comes and the plan is put into full action, to the consternation of the person concerned; he or she tries to mount a challenge and finds that it would be feeble indeed as the plan has the support of virtually all the power groups which were responsible for his/her ascendancy in the first place; he or she realises that the deed has been done as a new person mounts the saddle and he or she is left to rue what could have precipitated his/her fall.
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Yet, the point has to be made that this rule by subterfuge is not only one of the undoings of democracy in Nigeria, it is a practice militating against the growth and deepening of the present democratic experiment. The truth is that politics is about the contestation for power and, as such, nobody is expecting that people would not be removed from positions. But the essence of democracy is about the open contestation for power through particularly the agency of ideas. We expect people who want to remove anybody from any particular position to be open about it and publicly express the reasons for their desire. This would give the person the opportunity of defending himself or herself and laying out the ideas that should keep him/her in the office. In the end, it would be the responsibility of those saddled with deciding on who should keep the position to weigh the different ideas canvassed and take a decision on the basis of such assessment. This way, what would be powering the system would be ideas and the ability of those contesting or maneuvering to canvass more workable ideas.
In the current spectacle of rule by subterfuge, the public is left in the cold about the reasons for appointment or removal as everything is shrouded in secrecy, such that it is only those who could manipulate in the background, and not necessarily those with the power of superior ideas, that dominate the political process. This is a minus for the Nigerian political system as it should be possible for politicians and contestants to approach the game from the perspective of ideas rather than the present rule of subterfuge. The political process is definitely shortchanged when contestants maroon themselves in calculated dark games where nobody is sure of anything and anybody could be removed clandestinely. Democracy is about open contestation for power and it would be more profitable for the Nigerian experiment and its processes to demonstrate such openness in its activities.