With golf in mind, let’s tee off with a phrasal contextual clarification. In Nigeria and a huge chunk of the developing world, there exist on one hand many people who are in government but also are not. That is, they are in government but government is not in them. This piece is not so much about them, although, technically, that is their own cross.
On the other hand, the right hand really, there exist two sets of people who are on top of things in spite of and despite. One is peopled by those in government. They are in government, and government is in them. The second group comprises people who are not in government but who are more in government than a majority of those in.
Don’t be confused. Simply follow me, one step at a time. Don’t try to go ahead of me. And, don’t argue about what you don’t understand.
Time to break stuff down. There are many Nigerians who don’t hold any government office but who are far more powerful than some who do. Leave the political godfather out of this. We only gave a dog a bad name so that ‘manfathers’ and ‘godmothers’ have a field day -as we have come to see.
Nigerians gloat over the fall or absence of a political godfather per time, but soon turn around when we need help to no avail to complain that we can’t find even one person who could influence, say, the President or governor or local government chairman. Of course, with godfathers going extinct, most elected office holders now answer only to themselves and listen when they can to just a handful who may be family or cronies or fronts. There are many crosses here, which we may address another time. Meanwhile, if, in the near future, Nigerians begin to clamour for or quietly allow the return of godfathers, understand that it is what it is.
Back to winning ways: the crosses our people in government bear. The first, which is noticeable from the moment you take office, is the sheer cynicism by an alarming majority of those who voted you in. After a maximum of six months, the honeymoon is over for you, as supporters suddenly turn opponents and criticise you to no end, with utter contempt, hate and impatience. Many office holders never recover from that politicultural shock!
Next is the dual cross of dealing with a chronically ungrateful, picky, pugnacious, demanding and unappeasable populace. Political office holders, no matter how hard they try, have to live with this cross. You don’t talk so much about God, they accuse you of satanism; you tilt towards God, they pout that you are deceiving them. However, the big public office holder who loses sleep over this Catch-22 political cross is but a little mind.
Another cross borne by top political officers is that of name-calling. Our people find it so easy to take a leader or high office to the cleaners. We show no restraint in making unfounded allegations (slander or libel). The stupendous mouthwatering pecuniary blandishments concomirant with high political offices notwithstanding, this is one cross that discourages so many potential aspirants, resulting in the dearth of quality and conscience in our leadership firmament.
Talking about abusive language or insults, the part that rankles more is the untold hypocrisy it is wrapped in. You get insulted by someone (mainly of another political party) who is guiltier, or whose party person is. Let’s get into the specifics. Take President Muhammadu Buhari, for instance, who since taking office in 2015 has endured accusation by southerners of ethnic bias, rightly or wrongly.
Yet, all over this part of the country, you find governors and council chairman whose middle name is clannishness or nepotism. In the same way, some governors are targeted by the opposition for something or some things the national government is worse at. Hypocrisy being a way of life, politically speaking, disparaging language has become a major vehicle not only to convey hate but also to pull down or distract. The President, governors, chairmen et al must endure this cross but, more importantly, ignore it as much as possible in order not to unnecessarily dignify indignities.
From the top crosses let’s turn our attention to those meant for government appointees. As alluded to at the opening, these chosen few bear too many crosses. They are expected to smile even when they should frown. They should laugh no matter how badly they are treated.
Can any cross be heavier than that? Furthermore, appointees who were not tactful got punished for disloyalty just because their honesty or truth or genuine selflessness was misconstrued. In the circumstance, most of them, with no access or connection, who are smart enough keep their talismanic ideas to themselves. In the process, the system suffers or -as it were- bears its own cross!
There are many more crosses that torment political appointees but for time and space or the lack of them, only a trio should suffice. When a President or governor or chairman or lawmaker or minister or commissioner elects you as an aide, you immediately lose privacy, freedom, safety. You become an endangered species because your family, friends and enemies pile killer pressure on you for money, deals and sundry favours, which are unreasonably above you. Alas, you must do the needful or forever bear the cross of being shamed as stingy, stupid, arrogant, useless and what have you.
What about subterfuge, which in the political circles of Nigeria is erroneously called blackmail? I don’t know why political bosses tolerate and, therefore, encourage this nor do I understand how lieutenants cope with this evil cross. Someone within or without the system reaches the leader with concocted tales against an appointee or a person about to be favoured. Pronto, things change so fast as if a spell was cast.
Sometimes, this uncanny political daredevilry gets too brazen and incredible. Imagine a system person plotting with and positioning an outsider before the boss to rubbish other insiders, just to gain empty, ephemeral advantage. And the appointee(s) so rubbished is/are expected to never raise a finger or a voice of protestations except asked, which never happens until too late. Is God not good?
But, seriously, if we want better nation-building results and fast, the first thing to do is recalibrate the way we play politics. Our political leaders bear too many crosses that I think make them overburdened and, therefore, too easily irritated and distracted. Let’s free them up, love them more, show them more understanding and patience and watch how 180° positive change zooms in on our land. Finally, if you disagree with this submission, answer the question and please let me know.
God bless Nigeria!