Monday, 20 May 2013
The Unholy Trinity - National Interest vs. Regime Interest By Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.
Regimes come, regimes go, but nations mostly, and political parties remain. Now there may be several contending regime tendencies within the same political party. It is interesting to note that the interests of regimes (or administrations) are not necessarily synonymous or coterminous with the interests of their own political parties or other intra-party regime tendencies not to talk of their nations. That is the nature of politics.
The first order interest of a regime regardless of its pretensions to the contrary is oftentimes regime stability or in other words regime preservation. This is legitimate. There is nothing criminal in attempting to ensure maximum regime longevity within the circumscribing ambits of the prevailing national constitution and the governing laws of the land.
Yet the surest, moral and ethical way of achieving regime longevity is via good governance. Other ways, much less ethical but nonetheless legal include propaganda, fear mongering, opponent deprecation (without defamation) and amplification of opponent weaknesses.
Another legitimate regime interest is the injection of regime philosophy, technocratic know-how and administrative capability into the national governing sphere ostensibly for the betterment of society.
Assuredly concrete achievements may earn the leading lights of a regime considerable yet unsolicited influence well beyond their regime lifespan and in direct proportion to the degree of successful performance of their regime or their own persons. And so the personal influence of President George W. Bush cannot in any way be compared to that of his immediate predecessor President Bill Clinton in contemporary America for instance.
However not all regime interests are legitimate. The illegitimate interest of regimes encompasses many sub-headings too numerous to mention here. The principal illegal regime interest is primitive wealth accumulation, to put it more bluntly raw stealing, via the selfish cornering of the resources, of a captive nation under their care, supposedly held in trust for the nation. These hostage resources are then distributed among regime members, acolytes or associates often in direct proportion to their personal ranking in the regime’s de-facto power structure.
Another illegitimate interest of regimes is securing the loyalty of people to the regime itself rather than to the nation or even to God. Regime loyalty is disproportionately rewarded with the resources of the nation. National loyalty on the other hand is severely punished. And so the regime gradually transforms into a cult with several concentric rings of fanatical cadres fanning outwards from the core and shielding the core from critical censure and public scrutiny.
Still another all too common yet illegitimate regime interest is regime stretch or regime creep beyond the regime-expiry date as prescribed by the national constitution. This is achieved by employing various subterfuges such as election rigging, intimidation of the opposition, unwarranted constitutional amendments which are fraudulently obtained, instigated declaration of states of emergency, acts of internal and external terrorism, unprovoked declaration of war with other nations etc.
Yet another illegitimate regime interest is the calculated and self-serving entrenchment of regime influence well beyond the legally allotted regime lifespan. Regimes that harbor such illegitimate interests are rogue regimes. Note that these illegitimate interests particularly primitive wealth accumulation are often sanctimoniously denied by rogue regime elements, even to the point of death.
For our purposes, let us call regimes which were ever once in power, substantive regimes. By the same token let us call regimes currently in power, subsisting regimes. Finally we choose to call aspiring regimes, which are yet to attain political power, embryonic regimes. Thus while a subsisting regime is equally a substantive regime, a substantive regime might not be a subsisting regime depending upon whether it is currently in power or not.
For counter posing embryonic regimes, especially those sponsored by opposition political parties, their first order interest is basically regime change. They want to acquire political power as quickly and presumably as legally as possible. Their chief selling point is the potential of injecting fresh regime philosophies and supposedly superior administrative know-how into the national governing firmament.
While substantive or subsisting regimes have already been birthed, embryonic regimes certainly do not have a 100% chance of ever seeing daylight.
For instance the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the leading light of several embryonic regimes that were aborted supposedly via election rigging, was described at death as the ‘best President Nigeria never had’ by the late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the erstwhile Biafran rebel leader.
Many other embryonic regimes that did not see the light of day abound including that of Chief M.K.O. Abiola, aborted by the military, and those of Vice Presidents Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar both aborted by intra-party primaries defeats, etc. Many substantive regimes were actually substantive rogue regimes. Equally many embryonic regimes were actually embryonic rogue regimes.
Embryonic rogue regimes share the same mostly unstated illegitimate interests as substantive rogue regimes. Indeed all rogue regimes, embryonic or substantive have three defining illegal regime interests.
This trinity of unholy interests encompasses: firstly, primitive wealth accumulation at the expense of the nation, secondly, regime stretch beyond the original legal time frame and thirdly, entrenchment of rogue regime influence. It is almost impossible to have one aspect of this unholy trinity in a particular regime without the others lurking around.
The father figure in this unholy trinity is primitive wealth accumulation at the expense of the nation. This is the root and creator of all regime evils. Proceeding from this as naturally as conception proceeds from mating is regime stretch. Rogue regimes that have accumulated illegal wealth will never extinguish themselves voluntarily since they cannot have too much of a ‘good thing’. They would inevitably seek all means high and low to self-perpetuate unless and until they are forced to exit by circumstances beyond their direct control.
Once this is the case they then attempt to transmute their “substantive nature” into “spiritual existence” within successor regimes. In other words they attempt to project their influence beyond their existence. They must do this to avoid future prosecution for the misdeeds and crimes committed while in office and in order to protect their accumulated loot.
Look back. Look around. Look ahead.
Any substantive regime that you identify that has shown or shows any aspect of the ‘unholy trinity’ was or is a rogue regime. We are not talking here of military regimes because these were already rogue regimes right from conception.
Equally, any embryonic regime constituted principally by or built around elements that have shown any of the aspects of the unholy trinity in past administrations at local, state or national levels is an embryonic rogue regime.
In all these however, what is and where lies the national interest?
The national interest revolves around sustained economic progress, provision of reasonable to excellent physical and social infrastructure, maintenance of good health and social well-being of the citizenry, maintenance of law and order, the security of lives and property, employment for those willing and able to work, internal harmony, equality before the law, enthronement of meritocracy, protection of the weak from the strong, protection of the corporate integrity of the nation, projection of national image and influence beyond national boundaries, provision of ample opportunities for self-actualization and self-advancement by citizens willing to develop themselves to the fullest possible potential depending on individual ability and self-application etc.
As you can see, by definition, the national interest differs significantly from regime interest.
The crucial question then is this. Does the national interest ever coincide with regime interests? Where and to what extent do the national interest and any subsisting regime interests overlap? Where and to what extent do the national interest and various embryonic regimes’ interests merge?
Upon serious introspection, the answer can only be that the national interest coincides with any subsisting regime’s legal interest insofar as that regime actively and competently (not via lip service) promotes the well being of the people and the integrity of the nation as enumerated above. The national interest further coincides with the legitimate aspiration for longevity of such a caring regime to the extent that such aspiration for longevity lies within the ambits of the national constitution as met by the regime at its emergence and is subject to the unaltered governing laws of the land.
The same applies to those embryonic regimes whose regime ideology is geared towards the well being of the people and who’s past records show adequate capability to achieve those goals. The national interest coincides with the legitimate aspirations for regime change by such caring embryonic regimes within the ambits of the constitution and the governing laws of the land in so far as the subsisting regime to be replaced is not acting in the higher national interest as outlined above.
The unholy trinity of quasi-irredeemable features, which defines rogue regimes, is incompatible with the progress of a nation and the well being of its peoples.
Any regime, past or present, substantive or embryonic which manifests or has manifested any aspect of the unholy trinity, be it primitive wealth accumulation, be it regime stretch, or be it self-serving propagation of regime influence beyond regime existence, did not act, is not acting and will most likely never act in the national interest.
It was or is a rogue regime and if subsisting, it should be voted out at the earliest possible constitutional opportunity. If embryonic it should never be voted into power by patriotic citizens.
It is my considered opinion that arising from the foregoing, all the substantive regimes till date in Nigeria’s checkered history are rogue regimes. It is a small wonder that Nigeria is still grappling with under development, 52 years after independence.
May God bless Nigeria.
Engr. A. C. Konwea, P.E.