In recent memory, everything in the political space of Nigeria is fraught with some damning or potentially disturbing undertones which keep the citizenry in perpetual frenzy. Our case is worsened by the fervency and maddening frequency of messages of doom, conflagration, pestilence, and all sorts of conspiracy theories and morbid predictions churned out on the ubiquitous social media networks. If it were possible to do a holistic national diagnostics on all the estimated 215 million Nigerians within a space of 48 hours that it took the latest special presidential convention of the ruling political party, the barometer would have crashed into nether regions, making our laboratory technicians collapse in bewilderment.
Such is the density of our fears and follies that we continually anticipate the catastrophic, even when we look up to the Supreme Being for the miracle of surviving another year. Yet, our leaders continue to act and speak as if they are in control of the very air we breathe, and thus have the capacity to moderate the unknown or mitigate the frightening.
This somnolent period makes one introspect, and seize any documents that seek to articulate or contextualize our perilous times, for any hints of possible salvation, if not celebration. In pursuit of these sentiments, I dug back into the article we wrote in this column on Saturday, April 24, 2021, titled “Great Nation, Poor People: Political Pestilence”. Please, recall with me:
“We need to fix our Politics. No sophistry, manifesto, propaganda or declaration of ethical reorientation can change the minds of present operators and concessionaires of our politics, such that they will somehow turn a good leaf, and start oozing goodness. Only in the movies.
A candid appraisal of the way we practise politics, and consequently approach governance, clearly shows that our current pass of poverty, inadequacy and inequalities will only mature, mutate and produce more millions of deviants and desperados. The lament is real; our politics is farcical and Machiavellian, when you pause to remove the veil of partisanship and other base sentiments. Irrespective of the political party, the state or locality, Nigerian politicians, with few exceptions, often seek different ways and waifs to foist instability and discontent when they are not directly in power; while those clutching the levers of government spend several hours each day fomenting terrors and tortures for their restless opponents….
Within this mix of moves and counter-moves, it is certain that many lives would have been lost in street and nocturnal confrontations; property and possessions destroyed; the innocents – unaware or ill fated by mere association – are usually the collateral appendages for future justification of reprisal, or indemnity for juicy appointments and other patronage.
Politicians may have veins with blood flowing through them like ordinary folks, the true politician cannot contextualise scenarios like simple folks. They have apparently evolved a mentholated adjustment in their bloodline that enables them to make vicious decisions and hair-raising stratagems that will repulse normal human beings.
Many of us see the beasts and brutes in politics, and swear never to sit in council with them, so as not to be contaminated by their viruses; yet we are mesmerized, and therefore enticed, by their prodigious affluence and uncountable wealth locked in dungeons impenetrable to weak monetary and fiscal institutions and watchdogs.
Few of us are conditioned to seek a bite of the pie, however rotten, and thus snag a few Ghana-must-go bags of lucre. The price is to kill or be killed; to lie and entrap, or be fall-guys for big principals. We have now designed a system where young folks with significant investments in the professions, trades, industries, and what have you, stroll away from it all, entranced by the sweet aroma of juicy appointments or selections to political ascendancy, and lucrative power grabs that astound the senses. Few years down the road, with tales of missed or unfulfilled promises and discarded strategies, the former technocrats have become marooned in political prostitution and philandering, so much that though they lament and whine in private denunciations, their journeys have been so swollen and sodden by blood, bullshit and blunders, that resignation or reversal is as dangerous as committing suicide.
Our politics cannot even pretend to uplift and edify the best ethos of our complex, diverse but immensely blessed nationalities. Clearly, our political parties and politicians have different definitions of vision, spirit and power. We chant those words at rallies, in manifestos and debates, but the actions and identifiable policies of our political class show they have a scant understanding of the meaning and examples of vision in governance. Twenty (three) years into the fourth republic, we are still grappling with understanding the philosophies and raison d’être of our major political parties, when you consider their actions, unspoken characteristics and words that are delivered in moments of national sobriety.
Sometimes, you are left with a lingering feeling that apart from the seemingly obvious fact that in many states, and the federal institutions, our best and brightest have been shunted out of prominence, we have now formatted a process that denies and forbids some of our best and brightest minds any hope of sitting at the table of power and influencing the future and the potential prosperity of this country.
When you mention the ridiculous matter of corruption, every politician, irrespective of party affiliation, seems confused about the gripe of the ordinary Nigerians on soaring cases of corruption, in high and low places, despite the so-called anti-corruption activities of this current regime. We are not too amazed though, as we remember that since the 1970s when the phenomenon of armed banditry escalated after the civil war and multiple coups, we have continued to witness the exploits of our anti-robbery squads even as the spate and madness of armed robbery soared. In fact, up until the dissolution of the Special Anti-robbery Squads last year, amid general protests (#EndSARS), it appeared to many that the law enforcers were becoming more notorious and draconian that the robbers we set them up to curtail.
Now, we notice the shock of the citizens whose acts of corruption have now been magnified and metastasized by a diligent and indolent political class to a level where the citizens are frightened that the commonwealth could be wiped so clean that corruption will need a new name. The corollary of this state of the unnatural is that governance has gone missing – defenders and fighters of corruption are so single-minded that only the complexities and intrigues of their unending battles hold their interest. Governance is on auto-pilot. And the governed, desperate and desolate, find occasions to mirror the same tendencies in their private spaces… parodying the phrase, ‘like father, like son’… as thus: ‘like government, like the governed’.
The reason the case of politics is very difficult to treat, is the abdication of responsibilities by organs created to redress excesses of the executive arm of government which is largely populated by politicians. The legislative and judiciary arms of government have failed the citizens more often than not. While the case of the legislature is sadly understandable, as they are filled to the brim with politicians whose veins are throbbing with the baser component of the lamentable virus; that of the judiciary is particularly worrisome. We believe that most members of the bar are not politicians, though sometimes, the pronouncements and ambivalence coming from that arm make us wonder if the same virus has not contaminated our pristine institution.
Add that to a disruptive and defective electoral process, where even professors cannot be trusted to keep their fingers in their pockets, bedeviling what ought to be a sacrosanct duty with the corrosive infestation of the politicians’ viruses. The desperation of the politicians, exemplified by the brigandage of political thugs and compromised electoral umpires, set us up for a macabre drama in circles. Is it now possible to tell hungry and harried voters, who see politicians as vultures sitting over the carrion of the national treasury, not to demand to be paid in consumables and tokenism before they will surrender their votes? It’s a damning circle of poverty: one of mind, the other of stomach… but the end is similar – catastrophe.”