Mallam Bala Mohammed has been sworn in as governor after winning the gubernatorial election in Bauchi State.Many of us who are sworn fan of the governor because of his impeccable character and leadership qualities congratulate the good people of Bauchi State for making the right choice, a choice which we believe shall bring development to the state. The election of Bala Mohammed will bring a difference to the democratic space of the state and in so doing bring the democratic dividend to the entire people of the state.
The biggest problem facing liberal democracies is not a lack of economic growth but a lack of respect. So thinks Bala Mohammed since respect is an essential ingredient of a flourishing liberal society. Bala Mohammed has always stressed the importance of respect for liberty of others. He believes respect is the glue for relational equality.We typically think of equality in terms of rights, as enshrined in laws, or in terms of resources, as expressed in naira or dollars. But the basis of this type of equality he believes is equality in terms of relation which is sustained through mutual respects.
Bala Mohammed argues that the central premise of modern democracy is the ethics of reciprocity which he says means treating all persons with respect and weighing well their aspirations and their ways of looking at the world. He also believes in a society of equal respects. We can speak our minds and everybody can walk tall among fellows and look at each other squarely in the eyes.The capacity and willingness to look at each other in the eyes demonstrates our true equality.In an equal gaze is equal respect.
So to be clear he is not arguing for the restoration of some lost republic of respect in our polity.The definition of who qualifies for respect has always been a racist and sexist one.The demand for equal respect has been at the heart of civil rights movements, workers group and the religious in our state and country in general, but progress on this front has been halting but real.Negative populism, like the type promoted by most of our politicians and others threatens this progress.
Bala Mohammed believes that negative ethnocentric populism is poisonous not just because it undermines mutual respects, but because it is specifically out to do so. But the elite are to blame too. He believes that those of them that have been privileged to be in positions of authority have paid too little respects to the people because we have not in effect looked them squarely in the eyes. We have disrespected our fellow citizens in thoughts, in words and in deed, he always says. Bala beleives meritocracy has been turned into a secular creed justifying rampant inequality.
Bala Mohammed believes there are steps that need to be taken to revive liberal societies like ours today, many of which have been articulated on these pages. But we need to start by building a foundation of mutual respect for our people, by dethroning the false idol of meritocracy, minding our words and by aggressively pursuing policies that do not benefit us but the people. Let us start by looking each other squarely in the eye. And Bala Mohammed shall surely do so to the Bauchi people because he respects all.
Musa Wada, Abuja