Nigerian playwright, Ola Rotimi’s play Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again satirizes an ideologically bereaved political class motivated by greed and avarice to the exclusion of all other virtues of political consciousness. Personified in the comical character, a half-educated, retired Major of the Nigeria Army, Rahman Teslim Lejoka-Brown, the hollowness that resides in the hearts of those who aspire into political positions is revealed. Addressing his willing audience and friend, Gideon Abadnego Okonkwo, Lejoka-Brown submits that “Politics is the thing now in Nigeria, mate. You want to be famous? Politics. You want to chop life? – No, no – you want to chop a big slice of the national cake? – Na Politics.
So I said to my party boys…Cakes are too soft, gentlemen. Just wait. Once we get elected to the top, we shall stuff ourselves with huge mouthfuls of the National chin-chin.” Lejoka-Brown was actually positioning himself to be the flag bearer of his party, National Liberation Party, in the forth-coming elections.
The above literary scenario distinctively captures the mood in the country among many political aspirants as 2019 approaches with unrelenting vigour. It is under such usually inordinate matrix which produces Lejoka-Brown that the political class flourishes while extending their culture of sophistry across the country. The behaviour of these politicians carries with it the possibility of constant prejudice and extravagant fantasy which amuses even the politicians themselves. Their attitude recalls the ominous puritanical posture which held sway prior to 2015 and which Nigerians embraced, some with regret, some with fulfilment. The society as a whole, given its fragmented and totalizing experience in the last few years is instinctively alive to all forms of misrule and abuse of power. It will, therefore, be difficult to mislead the people no matter the level of commitment by bootlickers to lubricate the wheels of political hegemony.
It is obvious to everybody, old and young that there will be a general election in Nigeria next year. Political office holders, those who have made a career out of politics, market women, the employed and unemployed, lazy and uneducated youths, everyone is presently caught by the fever of 2019 elections. For some, it presents a very big opportunity to indulge in subterfuge motivated by lies and deceit, while grovelling at the feet of politicians.
Some people are of the opinion that Nigeria’s socio-economic and political experience since the last election in 2015 is anything but fulfilling. Other people have also opined that Nigeria is, indeed, on the part of recovery, in fact faster than the recovery of Japan after the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No matter the structure of the facade to mislead the populace about the giant strides of the current power protocol, the signs are suggestively apparent that Nigerians would wish for a better condition. In this respect, the people have complained, not only with the power machinery at the centre but also with the general attitude of politicians at all levels, from the states to the local governments. Nigerians have groaned and survived the onslaught; Nigerians have expressed chagrin and disgust through available channels. In fact, we have run out of tears due to the streams of blood, both physical and psychological which wet the streets of Nigeria on a daily basis.
It is, indeed, easy to complain, it is easy to criticize and point accusing fingers to politicians and those in power but what is not easy is the will power and moral conviction to take a stand and refuse the insipid crumbs that fall from the table of those we criticize. It is painful and soul wrenching to see people who are otherwise the voice of the society to easily become turncoats and favourite allies of politicians who we daily criticize for all the woes in the country.
The repositioning towards 2019 should be ideologically based so that all forms of superstructure can be vehemently dislodged through the instrumentality of the ballot box. If everyone in the country is materially inclined as the storm gathers towards 2019, then the people must be ready to bear the hailstorm when it is unleashed on them through the structure they enthrone. I have read where one group or another is endorsing this politician and another politician. It truly grates on ones emotions and consciousness when people who have plunged our country into the abyss of economic ruin receive accolades from fellow countrymen. It absolutely defies reason to see the populace, spurred on by hunger and material need, line up behind personified political disasters and sing their praises to high heavens, mouthing offensive profanities how that same politician is the best human being God ever created. It offends the sensibilities and assaults the inner sanctum of the mind to see fellow victims of exploitation and economic rape support a structure that dehumanizes them.
At the centre, if the APC-led government has done well for Nigerians since 2015, it follows that Nigerians should turn out in large numbers and ensure that the Buhari-led government is returned to power after the elections of 2019. The government must be fairly scrutinized in terms of the economy and the strides it has made or not made in that area in comparison to the state of the economy before 2015. The government must fairly be assessed in terms of security across the country with the activities of Boko Haram and herdsmen in mind. The government must be assessed in terms of education, infrastructure, and the general wellbeing of Nigerians. The government must also be assessed in terms of its anti-corruption drive, whether it has been total or selective. Personal opinions cannot supersede the opinion and decisions of the people who form the bedrock of democracy. On the other hand, if the people are convinced that the APC-led government at the centre has performed below expectations, then let them also file out in their numbers and take a decision in 2019. Nigerians must be united in this, we must all take our fortunes in our own hands to either maintain the status quo or dislodge the current power machinery. The same goes for the states too. In every state where the governor has performed well at all the levels enumerated above, it is only natural for the people to return him to power and where a governor has totally vanquished his people, owed salaries, and enriched himself and family members in the guise of governance, then the people must also take a decision.
It is sad that most Nigerians do not have any faith or confidence in the political process. If we do not vote, what is the alternative? If we conclude that our votes do not count, what moral justification would we have when the wrong people emerge as our leaders? It is important that as citizens of this great country, we realize that we all have a duty first to ourselves and secondly to the unborn generation to break free from all forms of misrule and to also enthrone an equitable structure that will enhance the true progress and revalorization of our politic.
Adiele writes from the Department of English University of Lagos via [email protected]