There are times when a person decides upon a course of action - or loyalties - without the decision ever having passed through that part of the conscious mind with which all phenomenon are contemplated. Sometimes, this is because the decision is one that goes against everything one stands (or claims to stand) for. At other times, we carry forward this process of deliberate ignorance/denial because we are moved, by some force we cannot understand, to take positions whose full ramifications are as of yet unclear to us.

This lack of clarity becomes like an unresolved object in the mind - becomes so in the manner of a morsel of food stuck between the teeth and, can become so disturbing/distressing that the only way we can reduce its effects is to engage the process that enables us to bypass the natural impulse that causes us to repeatedely tell ourselves why we do what we do.

In other words, where acts and thoughts conflict with self-image, refusing to undergo the process of self-examination is sometimes neccesary in order that the self may preserve some measure of inner equilibrium.

In spite of all we have seen of the political process that is called 'democracy' in Nigeria, in spite of how we cannot deny its severe unlikeness with what we know of true democracy, we are still prepared to accept the self-description of the clueless/incompetent autocracy that runs Nigeria when it tells us that it is the operational arm of a 'democracy'.

Related to this act of mass self-deception is our acceptance of an imposed set of near worthless edicts as a 'Constitution'.

Power-plays where out-of-favour (or dispensable) members of the autocracy are thrown out of the chop-belle-full loop are celebrated by us as proof of "democracy in action".

My opinion runs contrary to the belief that countries like Nigeria are in early stages of growing democracy. From what I have seen, where these countries are is very different and, a lot more dangerous. We see in our 'giant' Nigeria, what seems to have taken full shape in smaller countries like Togo and Gabon. We are witnessing, in all these countries, the latter stages of the establishment of an aristocracy in a UN-recognised African State.

I used the term "UN-recognised..." to differentiate these countries (and their newly emergent aristocracies) from the nations that had existed in the same geographical spaces and, their traditional aristocracies.

In Nigeria, we have been witnessing the emergence of a pan-Nigerian aristocratic class whose "mandate", unlike those from previous ages, is granted them by the ability to outplay each other in the game of pretend 'democracy' and sham 'nationalism'.

A game whose main ritual is the rigging/buying of votes at all levels (even at the level of candidate selection) and, whose purpose is the insane accumulation of more cash and 'power' than any one person can use up in a lifetime.

In a country that has a population of 150 millions, the individuals that are allowed to participate in this game at its highest level are drawn from a pool of no more than 5,000 individuals. Individuals who are members (by blood, marriage, or affiliation) of new/old political dynasties whose members have been prominent in Nigerian 'power' circles since the 1970s.

In other words, Nigeria's emergent leading players during this so-called 'democratic' dispensation are increasingly people who, thanks to Daddy's 'hard-work', have never experienced one second of what life is like for 95% of the people they will then claim to be representing in the 'democratic chambers'.

Since hereditary monopolies of this sort are more usually a characteristic of private enterprises, 'democracy' in Nigeria can be accurately described as a business that is monopolised by a cartel. And monopolistic cartels are compelled by their nature to continuously seek to intensify - for the benefit of members only - their control over whatever object their enterprises were founded to trade in. And of course the more control a cartel gains, the less customer satisfaction becomes something for it to be concerned with. All that matters is to maintain (and even enhance) its control over all facets of the object's production and dispersal cycles.

In the case of Nigeria, the object is political power and all its accoutrements.

So, it would be a mistake to think Nigeria was working through the early stages of what will eventually become a stable democracy. Truth is, what we are working towards is a stable oligarchy whose inter-married members will eventually constitute themselves into an extremely parasitical (and self-renewing) class of aristocratic 'new' Nigerians.

To expect a 'democratic' system that is firmly in the grasp of these people to someday develop into a proper representative government is like waiting for mosquitoes to someday come up with a cure for malaria.

Over time, the journey we have embarked upon together brings us to crossroads.

We decide at these points what direction to take - when we can.

Sometimes, we have no choice, there is only one option - in other words, sometimes, what looks like a crossroad does not serve the function it is meant to serve.

From what I can see, Nigeria is at the last of the crossroads where its people will have a chance to decide which way to go without resorting to strategems that require mass barbarism. After this point is passed, even though we may come to others like it, we will not have the same opportunity as we have now to make choices that do not require the spilling of oceans of blood.

To clarify: when I speak of points and opportunities, I am not describing geographical locales or even single events. The points and opportunities I speak of are the living, breathing generations of Nigerians that have the capability to act at this time. If these generations pass their active age without having been able to ensure that irreversible progressive social and political institutions have occupied the centre of our collective lives, regardless of how bitter this failure may taste to those who acknowledge its finality, the generations that will follow are the ones who will have to pay the full price.

This is because the very thing that they succumbed to would also ensure, through its control of information/education, that those generations who come into awareness of the world (after the defeat/capitulation) are either ones who would have been so stupefied that they would not even recognise the injustice of their permanent servitude or, that they would have to start the struggle from positions where they will face more daunting obstacles than the ones we face right now.

The question now is, how is this last chance to be best utilised? Well, first I would suggest that we look beyond the possibility that any electoral charades that are in the control of suspect characters can be used to effect change. We should also make room, within our projections of the best way forward, for the chance that we may yet have to live through another bout of dysfunctional military dictatorship. We must keep in mind that the critical arena within which the drama is unfolding is our active lifetimes and that the objective is to ensure, within this active lifetime, that we pass onto those not yet born, membership in a society within which there are many things from which true greatness can be achieved in a psoitive, sustainable, as well as persistent manner.

Having said all this - having identified this point in history as the last during which progressive change can be implemented through relatively peaceable means - I must now admit that it is difficult to be optimistic with regards to the prospect of us availing ourselves of this precious opportunity.

This is because, at moments of great crisis/epochal change like the one we are living through right now, the parties that break through to the other side are those who are the most militant and, radical. And at this moment in time, that most radical/militant party happens to be Nigeria's political/economic elites.

Radical militancy at its most effective requires clarity of vision and, out of all the groups and sub-groups that make up Nigeria's current social-political landscape, the elites who have seized control of all levels of state power are the ones who have seen most clearly the possibility of creating a new type society that will serve their own vision of what the world ought to be.

TO BE CONTINUED...