The opening lines of Charles Dickens famous novel A Tale of Two Cities present a synthesis of contrasting situations that sustain each other, yet distinct in their outlook. According to Dickens “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness…” In reality, best of times and worst of times, wisdom and foolishness, belief and incredulity, light and darkness all operate side by side in an infinite relationship of mutual dependencies.
Such confection of contraries to capture the human tide, such juxtaposition of opposites bears testimony to the apparent inevitability of the human condition to continually subsist in dualities. Unity of opposites and their complementary alignments are constant factors in the human equation. Sometimes the alignment is positive for advancement, other times the alignment is inimical to progress and well being. Indeed, Dickens’ outline of contrary situations presents a platform to examine contemporary politics in Nigeria which regrettably has become a symbolic arena for every duplicitous preoccupation.
The two leading political parties in Nigeria, PDP and APC are aligned opposites with complementary/reciprocal relationships. Besides the naturally designated unity of opposites in a conjugal union, besides the inseparability of the physical and spiritual realms of existence, besides the relationship between the two sides of a coin, PDP and APC occupy a pride of place in the system of complementary framework. Despite their conspiracy of progressive treachery and plunder, in spite of turning Nigeria into a fetid economic dung heap, Nigerians have had to put up with the two political parties even as the chaos they enunciated prevails with unyielding fury. Never in the history of this country had two political parties combined to eviscerate the populace with unrivalled hate and sadism. Therefore, it is totally disagreeable to the sensibilities that any person of good conscience will attempt to exonerate PDP or APC in the whirlwind of corruption that has caught Nigeria in its hypnotic stranglehold. PDP and APC are not contradictory but complementary forces containing their opposites within themselves. According to an Mbaise proverb, the mouth cannot go to war without the nose. It will be foolhardy therefore, for the nose to exonerate itself in the case of any eventuality in the stomach, claiming to have watched in silence while the mouth was busy.
Recently, the nation was riveted by the action of the APC-led federal government to release names of those, who are alleged to have enriched themselves with filthy lucre and looted our collective patrimony in a brazen show of gluttony. In a press conference, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, reeled out the names of people in the last PDP-led government, who enlisted in the country’s growing hall of infamy, by consistently purloining the exchequer. In response to Lai Mohammed’s actions, Reno Omokri, an aide to former president Goodluck Jonathan, quickly released a counter list of those who are also alleged to have dipped their hands in public purse for personal enrichment.
Interestingly, while the list released by Lai Mohammed contains only PDP members, Reno Omokri’s list also contains only APC members alleged to have stolen our country to stupor. While it is no news that our socio-economic and political terrain have eminently been pulverized by PDP and APC structures, it grates on the emotional province of the mind to know that the populace, the intelligentsia, those who should know better fail to realize the game of chess enacted by both parties in all their sinister peculiarities. Sadly, it appears that a prostrate civil society has wittingly acquiesced to the irrationalities of the political class in competition with jungle violence and disorder. For those making efforts to separate PDP and APC, let us outline the futility of such efforts by examining the composition of their membership in the documented mutilation of our economic potential.
It is therefore impracticable to isolate or exonerate any of the two political hydra-heads from the current economic milieu of comparable disaster.
Given the present situation, it gladdens the heart to know that there is a positive consciousness among the populace to rise against ethnic or religious sentiments to dislodge the current power protocol come 2019. However, it is also worrying that less than 12 months to the next elections, there is apparent lack of a committed gladiator who has come out to indicate willingness to challenge the status quo. It is worrying also that there is no clear alternative platform with a vociferous voice to point the way forward to a new beginning for Nigerians. Will there emerge a totally new political party to breath fresh air into the putrid political space? If Nigerians vote out APC and replace it with PDP, they will ostensibly be confronted by the same monstrous structures that have diminished and blighted our growth.
The political will of a people is gauged by their resolve to break away from the past and start afresh. If we agree that APC has completely failed us, which of course is obvious, certainly PDP is not a choice to be embraced. What then do we do in the face of making a choice between the devil and the deep blue see? Instead of becoming social media champions, rebroadcasting stale and sterile propaganda, spread hate speeches and advance ethnic and religious agenda, let us all began to look inwards and ask serious questions about our country and the direction it should take in 2019. Abstaining from the political process, resigning to ennui and languor are unconscious decisions to leave our destiny in the hands of those with no other commitment than total annihilation of our commonwealth.
Again, what is the guarantee that in the event of the emergence of a third force, an alternative to our present predicament, it will not be hijacked by jackals and hyenas to continue the rot and further plunge our country into purgatory? In the event of a red card in 2019, there certainly cannot be a void, what will be the replacement? This is the question that should agitate the mind of any concerned and committed citizen of this country.
Adiele writes from Department of English, University of Lagos.