Akintokunbo A Adejumo
That crazy (and actually dangerous, if we don’t mind the banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism) season is here in Nigeria again, where all governance ceases, the poor, ignorant, unknowingly disenfranchised populace fall prey to the wicked and power-hungry politicians all looking to have another chance or a chance at a piece of the cake – copy, treasury. It is called politicking. Mind you, it is not even campaign time yet! I never cease to wonder what time those of them in government already have to perform their duties, if they have any duty to perform at all.
Now and then, it is significant, and sometimes borders on the ludicrous, ranging from the tragic to the bizarre; from the corrupt to the sincere, inordinate to the proportionate ambition. Everybody, it seems, wants to rule Nigeria. And why not? The country is full of absurdities, the inane, the inept and the clueless.
I have always contended that the way we Africans, and speaking of Nigerians, play our politics and brand of democracy is bizarre, wrong, an anomaly, primeval and will always yield negative results and repercussions. We know and feel it now, don’t we? At 62 years of age, we are still in the quagmire that has made us the laughingstock of the world. It is almost comical, if not tragic.
As long as we insist on playing bizarre and dirty politics and democracy in aberration and negation of what are both essentials to human development and progress, we will continue to have poor and bad leaders, in all areas and levels of governance, we will continue to have poor, bad, inconsiderate, conscienceless, uncaring, clueless, and corrupt leaders. It is not a curse; it is a fact. The political and governmental landscapes are replete with examples, which should be learning curves, but we refuse to acknowledge and remedy these anomalies and mistakes.
Why? I don’t know, except to proffer a theory that perhaps the Western type of politics and democracy are alien, incompatible and unsuitable to our psyche, mindset, and culture, and will take many generations of intense and radical re-direction and education to alter.
And this is also subject to and depends on whether we should change or adapt these to our environment, psyche, culture, and orientation.
I have absolutely nothing against Tinubu vying to become the President of Nigeria come 2023. It is his right as a Nigerian. Neither do I have anything against Vice-President Osinbajo putting his hat into the presidential contest ring. Again, it is his right. And so do Atiku, Peter Obi, Amaechi, Moghalu, Sowore, Orji Kalu, Dele Momodu, Ayodele Fayose and almost fifty others; and incidentally, so do I and millions of eligible adult Nigerian citizens, at least on paper.
However, for now, it should be noted that, they are all VYING, jostling for position, so to speak. I capitalised VYING because none of those prospective, interested contestants have even been chosen by their parties to represent them. The people of Nigeria have not chosen them either. Some of them do not even have a political party.
What we have is a lot of shouting and jostling and declarations to get into position, or to test their popularity and or acceptance by either their party or the people. For now, we know where the loudest noises are coming from. Campaign has not officially commenced but the social media, radio and TV and beer parlours are in full campaign swing.
That we all have our preferences is a normal political and democratic process. But when irritable words like “betrayal”, “Judas” are being bandied about, methinks, with all our so-called sophistication and education, Nigerians are still in the Dark Ages and are, sadly, politically primordial.
We really should up our game and knowledge of politics and democracy through a massive and concerted reorientation and education, especially the educated elites, and of course, the masses.
In politics, favours are fleeting and not permanent. It is not unique to Nigeria and Africa. Politics is not about morality but about opportunities and connections; one might even throw in opportunistic and luck, sometimes,
Politics is not practiced alone; it is people-oriented and people-driven. A politician cannot succeed without others, and that includes his/her opponent or rival. It is the people who will ultimately decide to vote or not to vote for you or to vote you out.
The people who supported you in office, that is, your administration, or cabinet are those who make or break you – make you succeed or fail as a leader. There’s really nothing like you helping them; they are the ones helping you.
Unfortunately, with humanity, as we know, it is the head that wears the crown who either gets the blame or gets the accolade. The faceless staff will not be blamed or receive the kudos.
We always think we are very much savvy politically and sophisticated, but beneath that façade, lurks ignorance and a dearth of knowledge of what politics really is. We just copy and paste and proceed to warp the process to fit our primordial narrative.
Some politicians think and act like they are veterans – all-knowing and all-glowing, godfathers. But they are really charlatans, mediocre and despicable opportunists, who do not even know, or have read and digested, not only their party’s manifesto and constitutions, but also have absolutely no working knowledge of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Yet, they regard themselves as veterans, egged on by an ignorant and misguided, gullible populace. Both of them revelling in this quagmire of duplicity, prosaic, and obliviousness.
And we get regaled by big vocabulary on social media and newsprint by all kinds of paid writers, trying to modulate our mindset to their own personal beliefs and pseudo-activists acting on laid-out and defined insidious scripts of endless manipulation.
Many Nigerians get very excited and carried away on social media, especially WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They think these are the spaces where the noise matters.
The electorates don’t know their RIGHTS but knows their MOUTH, and hence we coined Stomach Infrastructure, courtesy of ex-Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. During campaign, you will see elderly people maybe 50 or 60 years old, locking up their businesses, put on their best clothes and run around with politicians for the whole day and coming back home with just 1000 Naira. Politicians owe us NOTHING, because they paid to be voted for.
The Nigerian politician knows MOST average Nigerian is STUPIDLY GREEDY. A governor owing 22 months salaries of civil servants, six months to election pays 3 months’ salaries out of the 22 months owed; then pays for all the months leading to the election. Then a month to elections, he pays another 3 months. Gbam! The whole civil service will come out to vote for him because “he is a caring and listening governor”. After elections, no salaries and NLC wants to go on strike, and they want the governor to take them seriously?
We write articles expressing our views in newspapers and online platforms. We jump up and down. We even abuse and insult each other over nothing. Probably, less than 1000 people would read it if lucky and well circulated. Forget the likes. We are talking about people who internalise the points raised. Out of the 1000 readers, many do not fully agree, and less than 10 will probably vote (e.g., in the Primaries). So, what is the point of all the drama? It is all just academic.
Can we change the electioneering process in Nigeria? Politics money is huge and putrid, but it spends nicely, and they only stop asking you for more when they are ready to discharge you as the scammers discharge a “mugu”
As my brother Gbolahan Gbadamosi wrote, “Many people here and elsewhere are resolved and resolute that they will not support either Tinubu or Osinbajo if one wins and the other loses. They will support the party’s candidate only if their candidate wins. Yet, that is never how democracy works. After the primaries, the ideal, decent, and proper thing is for all to unite behind their party’s candidate, give the winner their unalloyed support and work to see that candidate wins. Not Nigerians! It is my candidate, or the road is closed. Scorched earth.
This is our problem, and this is why there is so much heat.
As it is in APC, so is it in PDP, so it is any other Nigerian political party. It is a Nigerian problem, a Nigerian plague. If Atiku wins again, it will split the party again. If Atiku loses, his die-hard supporters will find another home.
We never lose, accept the results, and wait for another opportunity. Ironically, we proclaim the name of God so much. We claim God will choose whom He wills. We declare nothing is possible without His permission. Yet, once our candidate loses, God has nothing to do with it again.
It is us that need to search our souls. We are the problems we seek to solve”
If we don’t change how politics is played in Nigeria nothing will change. It is a long process to change it. I will not be deceiving myself to say we have started because I am sure we haven’t.
But educated people come on platforms everywhere arguing about a good candidate, but a bad candidate with good money wins all the time.
Are we evolving politically? Are we ready to play politics as it is played in civilized nations? Money makes a big difference in any elections. In America, despite campaign contribution laws, more money is going into various campaigns. But we are highly educated and well informed of the political shenanigans. Elections are dirty business in Nigeria it remains a politic of bitterness littered with electoral manipulation, cheating, rigging, intimidation, thuggery, vote-buying, ballot-snatching, underage voting, and even murder and assassinations. The change will be gradual but not now.
Y’all have a Blessed Easter Season now!!!!!