Caging the demagogues in our political space


By Jerome-Mario Utomi


They were voted to provide good and qualitative leadership; elected to bring the nation’s economy out of the woods and were chosen to bring democracy’s dividends to the people.  But, instead of providing the lavishly promised and highly expected leadership, they visit the masses with cluelessness and utopia.

Instead of reviving the comatose economy, they threw it further down into recession and instead of bringing dividends of democracy, they democratized poverty, institutionalized unemployment and governmentalized hopelessness and frustration. They are not authentic leaders but political demagogues.

Welcome to a nation where leadership occurs by accident, where one suddenly emerges in ‘Leadership quarters’ without any credible track record, where both intelligence quotients and emotional balance are considered secondary in determining leadership. Welcome to a state where we are led not by authentic leaders but by political demagogues.

Providing context to this discourse, it is necessary that we understand first who a demagogue is. It is defined by Wikipedia as “a person or people who seek political support by appealing to the popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument. Merriam Webster sees a demagogue as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and purposes in order to gain power. From the above, one striking take is that these demagogues are not restricted to our  774 local government areas or the 36 states of our federation, the demagogues are littered all over the earth’s surface.

But the ones that operate here in Nigeria could safely be described as hyper modernized as they are negatively brazen and stunning in audacity. The demagogues share one common denominator. They do not have the interest of the people at heart. They are super-selfish and specialise in the practice of the “use and dump” syndrome.

The demagogues are the evil wind that blows no nation or state any good. Becoming the authentic leader, they do not contemplate but engrossed in their sole aim of holding on to the commonwealth of the people without providing the needed leadership. This we have grappled with for decades, and that informed the snail-speed with which our economy is growing, the educational sector comatose, as morals and values have departed our shore.

And now the big issue, demagogues have graduated from individuals operating at the government offices to groups cutting across tribal and ethnic groups.

It is a natural extension that every nation wishes as well as pray for authentic leaders as they, the authentic leaders “demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. They establish long-term relationship and have the self-discipline to get results. They know who they are’ as stated by Bill George, a Professor of management practice at Harvard University.

The above sterling qualities and results of the authentic, leaders are not surprising to me as an individual. What is scary and worrisome is the scarcity of these sets of leaders in our nation’s political scene. Why we have not been able to break this jinx of sort since independence?

To provide an answer to the above, an insightful probe will effortlessly provide an instructive and stunning revelation. This revelation shows that our nation is blessed with more of authentic leaders than some of the nations that we envy. But out of our own free will emanating from the bankruptcy of integrity and morals, choose the demagogues as against the authentic leaders. So, the greater portion of the blame should go to us, the masses.

We are failing in our responsibilities and that informed why they are moving about unchallenged. We, as a people, have very wholesomely  forgotten that ‘man who makes power makes an indispensable contribution to the greatness of the nation, but the man who questions power makes a contribution just  as  indispensable, especially when the questioning is uninterested, for it is through this means that we determine if we use power or whether power is using us.’

Yes, as a people, we have not asked a question for too long a time and as a result, power is using us unknowingly. We have accepted anything that comes to us, all in the name of leadership.  We forgot completely that we were created to ‘question a settled answer and answer unsettled questions.’ Demagogues were our own creatures through our silence.

However, the interesting part of this narrative is that all hope is not lost as experience has shown that these people (demagogues) that seem very powerful are also excellently inept to effective resistance, once the people take a decision to end their inglorious political sojourn.

To end their political sojourn, the only actionable step that is needed from us is the nonlinear brain power, resolve, and pragmatic intellectual capacity to unlearn our unwarranted silence and relearn how best to harness the power of effective advocacy and the courage to say yes or no at the most vital times.


Utomi writes via [email protected]


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