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Resisting the Temptation of Personality Cults in Politics



The unveiling of President Bola Tinubu’s portrait during the June 12, 2024, Democracy Day celebrations has sparked concerns about the potential cultivation of a personality cult around the President.

This action risks undermining democratic principles and eroding the gains of Nigeria’s democracy.

Personality cults form when individuals are elevated above accountability and reason, leading to blind worship and hero worship.

While some leaders like Obafemi Awolowo and Kwame Nkrumah commanded respect, they did not foster cult-like adoration that subverted democratic values.

The portrait unveiling, orchestrated by various cultural institutions, seems paradoxical at a Democracy Day event intended to celebrate majority rule.

This gesture may alienate Nigerians grappling with economic challenges and seeking responsive leadership.

Such actions, including labeling leaders as “Baba” and commissioning anthems in their honor, dangerously skirt the edges of personality cultism.

They risk transforming democratic leaders into untouchable figures, echoing authoritarian regimes Nigerians have historically rejected.

President Tinubu, known for championing democratic struggles, likely did not foresee or endorse this portrait unveiling as a symbol of sycophantic adulation.

It underscores the need for transparency and accountability in governance to prevent such missteps from undermining public trust.

Guarding against the allure of personality cults is paramount to preserving Nigeria’s democratic fabric.

Leaders and citizens alike must remain vigilant against actions that elevate individuals above the collective good, ensuring that democracy truly reflects the will and welfare of all Nigerians.

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