FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, November 15, 2018
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L'ETAT, C'EST MOI: THE IMPACT OF NARCISSISM IN NIGERIAN POLITICS

e stood on the balcony of a two-story building looking down at the crowd. "If you love him," he admonished, "I'd like you to repeat what I'm saying, "Anayo Rochas Okorocha, you're the best in the whole world! Anayo Rochas Okorocha, the governor, you're the best in the whole world!" The crowd chanted as instructed; this cult of the self-important.

Narcissism is defined as excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance. Synonyms include vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, egotism, and extreme selfishness with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration (Google).

As you read the preceding definition, who came to mind? Did you think of Dino, or Fayose, or Okorocha or any other of the drama kings and queens parading the airwaves and social media seeking attention like a thirsty man seeks water in the desert? They flaunt their ill-gotten wealth, dance like buffoons, throw tantrums, cry, whine, and shamelessly vaunt their psychosis.

A narcissist believes the state is an extension of himself. From Louis XIV who believed France was his playground when he declared, "L'etat c'est moi" to our present crop of sun gods, the modus operandi remains the same. They appropriate public property for private use, loot public funds, impoverish the masses, employ a cohort of bullies and worshipers, etc. Their actions negatively impact the nations they govern, not only during their reign but for generations afterwards. Indeed, the antics of these petty despots is why Nigeria is mired in underdevelopment today and will continue to be, tomorrow.

Narcissists turn elections into a circus complete with clowns, jugglers of ballot boxes, animals with all manners of deviance, and the ringmasters conjuring governorships, senatorial seats, titles, and positions with a flip of the wrist and tongue. The electoral process offers myriad opportunities to manipulate voters. They bribe, cajole, bully, and intimidate - whatever works. For these kings and queens of self-adulation, the electoral process is a popularity contest of who can best wow the crowd. No vision, no goals, no plans.

When in office, they misappropriate public funds, embezzle, and self-aggrandize at the expense of the constituents they're supposed to serve. Their gross mismanagement beggar states which should be self-sustaining if not economically productive. Look at Aregbesola. After eight years impoverishing Osun State, then you start distributing half-salary to curry the people's vote for your party. Craven despotism!

Perhaps the most dangerous impact of narcissism its infectiousness. Because they parade themselves around like theirs is the legitimate way to govern, others buy-in. They hail them at parades, grovel for contracts, and join their cadre of sycophants just to earn a living. Those who don't follow, are persecuted or intimidated into silence. When they resist, they are railroaded, threatened, and even killed!

How do we resist these ajenirun?*

  1. Do not vote for a narcissist. Have your detection radar up. Don't put anyone in office who thinks your money is theirs. They are without conscience or compassion. Indeed, they do not see the people who suffer as a result of their self-aggrandizement Remember Oshiomhole and the widow? They cannot think past self therefore have no plans for town, city, state, or country. To expect leadership from such elements is to indulge, like them, in self-delusion.

  2. Remove them from office. A leader is not defined by terms in office but by positive impact. States that are going to hell in a hand basket need to seek better leaders. If a leader cannot improve the security of his constituents, they need to find someone else!

  3. Starve the demigods of the attention they crave. Don't legitimize the abuse of power. Don't endorse corruption.

  4. Support real leaders. They may not perform acrobatics or blow their own horns, but they have a track record of getting things done. Vote them in and leave the empty barrels in the dust.

*think "swarm of locusts.


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