Partisan politics is baggage. An encumbrance. It constrains its practitioners in so many ways, depending on what their sympathies and interests are. Politics compels those involved in it to conceal their inner and private convictions. They divulge them only when the chips are down. That is why many of them indulge in garrulous excesses when they get estranged from their political comfort zones. Politicians are, indeed, masters of the dissembling art.
But they do not indulge in these dishonourable acts for the sake of it. They do so for a reason. They want to be politically correct. They do not want to be caught on the wrong side of the political game. In politics, what you say or do can give you away. You need to gauge the political temperature and act according to its dictates. Those who throw their hat in the ring without properly weighing the implications of their actions are usually dismissed as naive. They are political kindergarteners. In politics, those who fail the test of political correctness have nobody but themselves to blame.
Whereas the inclination towards political correctness serves the narrow, selfish interests of political actors, their actions and inactions do not, ultimately, serve the best interest of the people. Cases of this self-serving disposition in politics abound in our recent political experience. One of the most telling has been the disposition of South East governors under the present political order. This group of governors were, for a long time, weighed down by the Buhari mania. As the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has stopped at nothing to show open preference for his Fulani ethnic stock over and above every other ethnic nationality. In extreme cases, the President has been seen to tacitly support the dance of death of Fulani militias whose mission is to invade regions other than their own and take possession of their ancestral lands. To ensure the success of this devious agenda, the Fulani militias who masquerade as herdsmen have been carrying out murderous activities, raping women and sacking whole communities. Parts of the South East have been victims of this concert of blood. As leaders of the people, the governors were looked up to by their people to rise to the occasion. They were expected to take steps that would safeguard the life and property of their people. But they fought shy. They reasoned that they would be offending the President, if they rose against the criminal activities of the Fulani militias. Consequently, they failed to act. The people that elected them were left to wallow in agony.
It was for the same reason of political correctness that the same governors refused to form a security outfit that would protect the region and its people against the rampaging armed herder. Rather than do that, they opted for something which the government that was protecting the murderous Fulani christened community policing. When the governors opted for this dubious model, they were made to understand that the arrangement was a subtle attempt to ensure that the vulnerable local communities remain soft targets for Fulani armed invaders. Unfortunately, the wise counsel made no sense to them. Instead, they placed their political survival over and above the security and future of their region.
To demonstrate further that their hearts and souls have been sold to their oppressors, they rose against the Eastern Security Network whose coming into being was necessitated by the lacuna created by the governors. Acting in line with the script handed out to them by their foreign masters, they hurriedly announced the formation of a security outfit called Ebube Agu. It was a parallel organization. Its mission was to put a wedge on the efforts of ESN to secure the region the governors left fallow. It was, in practical terms, intended to detract from the activities of ESN.
Interestingly, the Ebube Agu formed by South East governors never took off. It never went beyond the piece of paper on which it was written. It did not have to take off because the ESN, which it was supposed to sabotage, was already facing heavy military assault from the Nigerian armed forces. So, Ebube Agu didn’t have to waste time flogging a dead horse.
It is for the same reason that South East governors will never be associated with the concerns the Igbo are expressing over the abduction and detention of Nnamdi Kanu by the President they serve. To be seen to be on the side of their people could give them away as subtle supporters of the Biafran agenda. So, they must never be associated with or seen to be sympathetic to the ordeal of Nnamdi Kanu.
In a way, South West governors are also constrained over the Sunday Igboho matter. But it must be pointed out that this set of governors, unlike their South East counterparts, have always been on the side of their people. They formed Amotekun, a regional security outfit, to checkmate the activities and infiltration of Fulani militias into their region. The arrangement has been working. Amotekun marshals have been keeping the armed herder and his cattle in check.
However, the South West governors have not been seen to have identified openly with their people on the Sunday Igboho quest for a separate Yoruba nation. The unspoken understanding is that elected leaders like governors who swore to protect the Constitution should not be seen to be sympathetic to the cause of separatists. And so, the governors are not speaking up. Every other prominent Yoruba has taken a position on the matter. But the governors have maintained a studied silence. They have to do so, to be seen or believed to be playing good politics. This is the burden politically-exposed persons have to carry for reasons of political correctness.
Let us recall that southern governors were chided by the leadership of the National Assembly when they called for the restructuring of the country at their recent meeting in Lagos. The argument put up by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was that elected public office holders should not be seen to be holding positions that could endanger the corporate existence of Nigeria. Well-meaning Nigerians have since expressed disappointment in the myopic position of the Senate President. But the mindset he betrayed is what we are grappling with. If those the people elected cannot echo their feelings and aspirations, I do not know who should. Regrettably, the tendency towards political correctness, to hide behind the cloak of anonymity, has become an affliction. It is a blight, which has become the rule rather than the exception.