The Mafia Paradigm – By Sanusi Muhammad



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Bureaucracy is a systematic form of administration. Since there is a universally acceptable standard benchmark, a deviation from the ideal type reveals the unintended fault lines and the extent to which the system can no longer function as a bureaucratic administration, as expected.

A variation in the ideal structure of a bureaucracy, anywhere, is an aberration; and it generates or produces contaminated contents and a distorted organization.

In a bureaucracy, the Mafia paradigm that often emerges in a political system suggests a variation or an adulterated variant of bureaucracy, though a powerful one. Usually, this paradigmatic shift from the ideal type is motivated by the leadership structure of the executive arm of government and the subtle intervention of the political class. Once the inbuilt systemic check of a bureaucracy fails, the corrupt version takes roots and gains prominence just as witnessed in the 2023 presidential election petition tribunal judgment delivered by Justice Haruna Tsammani.

There are contending forces that will want to hijack the administration of any political system. It only depends on the administrative competence of whosoever personifies the leadership of the government. More often than not, what one gets is that the established structure of the leadership is rubbished for a strange and different structure to become unofficially authentic and running within the officially recognized system which portrays the Nigerian situation. However, as long as the consensus profile of the political class is assured, the corrupt system will subsist.

This is one of the chief reasons the fight against corruption in Nigeria is only observed in official ceremonies and mere verbal pronouncements as the corrupt and their hangers-on are in-charge of the government.

Reference to a very interesting book I read authored by Michael Franzese, ‘Mafia Democracy: How Our Republic Became a Mob Racket’, he described American Mafia story as a gangster lifestyle in which the “pursuit of power over shadows even the desire for a dollar, and self interest outweighs the greater good.” He likened it to a government that “is run as if it’s a thing of theirs and not the people’s, a syndicate, a racket.” Founded on greed, lies and corruption, the mindset is characterized by arrogance even as the tactics do not detract significantly from intimidation and deception. When the Mafiosi are at work, the sanctity and integrity of public administration is lost. They are the harbingers of unimaginable evil, if allowed to keep festering.

Well, a striking characteristic of those running the Mafia system is that they always identify themselves as being superior; and as people with unlimited access to the leadership of the government. Since Mafiosi tend to be more Catholic than the Pope, they will always admire the vicar of Bray, not minding whether he is Popish or Protestant, Tijjaniya, Qadiriyya, Izala or Shi’ite.

One of the first things the Mafia structure does to thrive is to cripple the normal and efficient system on play. Once that’s done, what comes thereafter is no longer a bureaucracy. Public administration is already jaundiced and one can expect all kinds of corruption and mago-mago to follow steadily. This is possible because the existing standard would have been messed up and subsumed under corrupt standard. There and then, whatever the Mafiosi defines as, the standard becomes the standard unchallenged. The people who are planning development can no longer execute developmental plans based on already known Mafia a ring is run around a leader to the extent that the victim will no longer have a mind of his own. Thenceforth, it is ‘anything goes’. This applies to the Tinubu brand of government scheduled that is battling for legitimacy.

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At the inception of the government that came with the Change slogan in 2015, Nigerians expected miracles to happen. Corruption was expected to be wiped out from Nigeria’s shore. But instead of Buhari to have blended his military leadership style of ruthlessness with civility, he allowed himself to be caged by the Abba Kyaris, Mamman Dauras, Sama’ila Isa Funtuas, their children and other renowned prophets of corruption and experts in treasury looting and bribery. Some of them are more corrupt than the word corruption itself that cannot be trusted to even man the gate of Hell.

Vitalized by the ingenious manipulation of an identifiable cabal, the philosophy of what works is what makes it to be different! The unfortunate part is that the victim leader at times thinks that such a structure is to be trusted and reliable. Like a rat race, people would rather go through the Mafia than the proper bureaucracy because it seemingly has the listening ear of the government because it is their planted government. They may grumble, but no civil servant will ever raise a complaint officially, and that’s the tragedy of that system! So, oftentimes, the bureaucratic sector of the government adapts, and embraces the newly introduced corruption laden modalities of public administration. Ordinarily, the people become victims of the Mafia because it seems, going through them is more effective with fast result at an agreed selfish term.

The Mafia paradigm is notably an intrusion into normalcy, which should not be encouraged by a society that desires unconditional progress and sanity. Since this is the reality of our modern world, public administrators should watch out for it. It evolves in a very subtle manner until it ultimately truncates the bureaucracy. It is so powerful that it can destroy governments unconsciously. Once it is institutionalized, it becomes something else. Reckless implementation of the aggregated interests of the Mafiosi will make the government to become ineffective and, irresponsive to the people’s economic, social and political interests and other legitimate demands, which triggers low morale on the part of the masses, and lack of enthusiasm in the government as on play in Nigeria today. Once it becomes prominent, Mafia develops a life of its own; which becomes difficult to control.

All in the name of politics, people will allow all kinds of unethical practices which, if care is not taken, can lead to the ruination of public administration simply because it will no longer follow already known pattern; oftentimes, with ‘political exigencies’ as the readily deployed excuse.

With this, things are made to happen without due diligence or strict observance of the bureaucratic standards. Consequently, as it were, public administration is rigged from the source.

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Everything will become amoebic! In this situation, no one can really say ‘this is how to move’ because the fortunes of such a government are at the whims and caprices of a human being are indeterminable. They can only be decided by whatever constitutes the interests of the operators. Under this condition, the ‘interests of the operators’ become the definitions and outcomes of government policies.

For instance, if the Mafia in control wants to deal with the pensioners, it will not only do so but also makes it look as if it is the government’s position.

The evil associated with the paradigm is that, if the gladiators like, they can impose checks and balances: and, when they like, the ‘checks’ can be removed, leaving only the ‘balances’ to thrive.

With it firmly entrenched, the state ceases to be what is expected to be because it only appears in name that it is a state, but, in terms of functional capability, it has been crippled by the enemies within called the Mafiosi. Development will also suffer because it no longer follows the normal pattern that is discernible and understandable by the masses. The most grievous evil of the paradigm is that, till a leader becomes captured unconsciously or consciously, he will always see himself as being on top of the situation. This exemplifies the Tinubu brand of administration on play.

That’s one of the subtle manners by which the Mafia discharges its core functions. Unfortunately, it goes behind everybody; and, by the time it becomes manifest, sometimes, it would have become too late to control!

In Nigeria, those with the gift of discernment would readily agree with yours sincerely that the Federal, State and Local Governments, are the prime architects and harbingers of the Mafia induced bureaucracy. The federating units of the federal government in most cases only adopt the obnoxious system for convenience. Our major problem in Nigeria is that the pilots and crew members aren’t in –charge anymore. Instead, the powers that sit on top of the Iroko tree are the ones taking the aircraft to destinations through remote. The real custodians of administrations and due process are already lame and deliberately incapacitated. The anchors now rest with the accidental power bidders. And the bureaucracy itself is now a subject of the Mafiosi. People prefer to play the games according to the rules of the Mafiosi than to go through the normal process of bureaucratic orders. At least, one is faster than the other, but then again, the end result with time cannot be the same. The grain would be separated from the chaff and those Mafiosi calling the shots at the highest levels of government with pride of authority and arrogance, become laughing and mocked creatures best for the garbage. It’s a matter of time!

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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