This month six years back, I took to Facebook to share this series. It ran as a daily. The double-edged satire was to create humour. It was also to serve as a wake-up call to the political class, a people who clearly need deliverance.
Until such spiritual and mental rebirth happens, we must keep sensitising those angling to join that this game of the tortoise is not a tea party. In Nigeria, the game is not for you if you fall among the fainthearted. In addition, if you have blood pressure issues or such cardiac-arresting ailments, in God’s name please keep away from politics. Or be ready to hire a mobile personal doctor since you are never too sure what news would hit you the very next second.
In the next six weeks or thereabouts, this space will offer a rehash of the 2013 serving. I trust that you would enjoy it. Even more importantly, I trust that you would glean some sense from it. Now, let’s play, Law Number One: Never ever attempt to outshine Power!
Yes, that may not be entirely original but no other expression would better and indeed best speak to the reality in my country. Nigerian Public Power-Holders across all levers/strata/tiers/arms of the game have crafted it into an art. Truth to tell, this Machiavellian law is now the political golden rule in Nigeria. You attempt it and perish!
There’s more insight, if you need it. The rule is not ‘never outshine …;’ it is ‘never ever attempt to outshine … .’ Meaning, you should never ever be seen or said or thought or perceived or believed, let alone found or caught plotting to outshine or actually outshining power. This rule is more obvious at the top but most bitter at the bottom and middle cadres of power, with an alarming majority of small-minded men and women benefiting the most from unmerited or undeserved promotions and appointments.
Under the authority of this peculiar set of knife-and-yam holders, breaking this law is tantamount to treason; exactly how and why we keep losing our brightest to the political guillotine, literally and figuratively. That should also help you to understand why aides deify our political chiefs as power demigods while they hold court but as ‘semi-devils’ once out of office. Most people call it betrayal, but it is not. Politically, this is only the timeous explosion of bottled-up disrespect and hate occasioned by the inability to have done or have said what was to be done/said at the time it should have been said or done.
Nothing can be more frustrating than power two being held down or restricted or pressed down and shaken together by power one for four years or all of eight. Let me tell you: what you call betrayal in politics, which happens almost-always after office, is only power two running over power one in due season because the game is wired to allow only ex-power to be outshone. Nigerian politicians are not traitors. They are just themselves!
Law Number Two: Play the fool for as long as both the yam and the knife are not yours to share. Since our politics had long dethroned education, and in fact is currently harrassing religion and football for the top spot as opium of the people, never flaunt or rely on how better than the incumbent you are intellectually, spiritually or physically. Remember that, in this country, politics is everything, which is the reason its laws, although unwritten, are sacrosanct and inviolable. And what’s worse, there is no court for its offenders.
Those who break these largely egocentric laws are treated the same exact way that jungle justice insists. Only that in this case, it is all down to the whims and capices of a one-man mob. Enough of rambling, which by the way is a mannerism of politics. Let’s now shed some light on Law Number Two.
In the name of God, or all the things politicians believe in, please play the fool and the dunce 25 hours every day you are not in charge. Most political Ogas At The Top see brilliance as a minus; except satanic brilliance, which can readily be notoriously deployed. Those who desire a future in politics must never ever forget that, in Power-Holder’s presence, you smile when the sane thing to do is frown; laugh when you should weep; praise when you should curse; clap in place of slap, and cheerfully repeat thanks rather than scream, ‘to hell.’ For your safety and survival, never break this law.
Law Number Three, and the last for today: Learn to read mind/body language or opt out of especially the inner circle of power. If you must survive and make progress in any political setting, one of the first three things to do is pursue a course in the rocket sciences of mind-reading and body language. With Power-Holders playing God by saying very little or nothing when they mean or plan so much, and vice versa, you need these supernatural abilities to stay afloat, or you go underk, dead! Stop laughing, this is more serious than you think!
There are two things involved in this particular knowledge acquisition, though. One, never seek to study this course in a formal setting. Those guys don’t like anyone who has obtained much formal education. The knowledge sought will be dead on arrival if you seek it formally.
Be wise, train yourself to read the mind and decode body language as all Nigerian politicians do: at the National Open University of the Street (NOUS). You won’t have any paper qualification to show for it therefrom, but thankfully you don’t need it. Politicians don’t ask what qualification(s) you have. They only ask what notorious things you can do, or how street-wise you are.
The second thing is embedded in what this NOUS graduation will do for you. You’ll thenceforth be able to hear Power-Holder between the lines. When he/she says A, you do Z; when he/she doesn’t say a thing, you simply do it. Promotion and more responsibilities will be your portion!
Which reminds me to remind you of one of the hidden codes of Law Number Two: Even when you know full well Power-Holder is up to pure silly mischief, never ever smile or laugh; at least not in his/her presence. Be warned, he/she will take that smile or laughter for mockery. And once that happens, God forbid, you are finished; completely finished. May you be smarter and sharper than that.