Since this is our debut, let me take one long minute to welcome you. If you agree that in a century and counting, sense hasn’t quite helped our country, this is the space to read, every Monday. I’ll be waiting.
In and out of democracy, politics in my country has continued to provide numerous didactic screens. Their Machiavellianism notwithstanding, you cannot watch Nigerian politicians weave through those ubiquitous intrigues, landmines or banana peels, without learning or being taught a thing or two. Survival is their very essence. I know because I know them. Doing media for twenty three years, coupled with a wolfish appetite for engaging politicians as well as playing the game myself, has offered me pride-of-place seat right there in the front row. And, boy, what lessons haven’t I learned firsthand? Five should suffice for today:
Lesson No. 1.
Friendship and enmity mean nothing. They have a notoriously unrepentant way of saying it: that in politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies; just permanent interest, which is self. Meaning, best friends yesterday can become sworn enemies today; and vice versa. This is the reason the guys constantly outfox each other. They know that the one dining with them today, could defect to the other dining table tomorrow. So, they enjoy the foolery while it lasts. In that time, they exploit each other to the fullest, selfishly sucking out every juice of interest that exists. Then, they move on. Examples abound of yesterday PDP friends, APC enemies who are the exact opposite today. They simply changed and took a walk!
Worse examples exist across the divide; but, please don’t let us stoke the fire or wake up sleeping dogs. Use your eyes. Look around the polity; ad hoc examples are everywhere. It is interest that makes our politicians so unsteady: yesterday PDP; today APC; tomorrow YDP; and back to PDP the day after tomorrow depending on the next election or its outcome. Crazy!
Lesson No. 2.
Reconciliation is cheap commodity. I don’t know how they do it, but politicians can be so stupidly forgiving or naïve; and consciously so. When things go kaput between a political couple and you find them take to the public square to wash their dirty linen, swearing and cursing, don’t take sides. Well, even if you do, be smart about it by maintaining deafening silence at least in public; because before too long the same estranged bedfellows or political divorcees would be back together hugging, kissing, doing. Nigerian politicians fight like the deaf and dumb; and reconcile like children. Eg., whoever thought that recurring decimal OBJ and PMB could spend these much quality hours inside the inner recesses of the bedroom of politics; after the mockery and fights of 2003, 2007, 2011!
Lesson No. 3.
You need a touch of evil to succeed. Sssh, stop shouting, ‘Blood of Jesus’. See, goodness is not a political virtue. In fact, in the trade it is considered a weakness. No good man or woman would succeed politically or electorally just because (s)he is good. If (s)he cannot commit directly, then the indirect route is the way to go. Thugs, man Fridays, and such other daredevil mercenaries are available for hire twenty five hours a day. Woe betide you if you don’t hire, because your opponents would, and deploy them against you. Ever wondered why the so-called good person you knew became Satan personified after taking political office? (S)he was satanified in the build-up to the enthronement. If you doubt this, please consider for a moment what politicians go through or do while seeking office. They can’t remain the same after the ‘baptism’. No perfect example than PMB himself. Three times he ran, three times he drew blank because his trademark goodness was not enough. Then, he mixed up or changed, which is what you get when good merges with the bad and the ugly. That gave him the perfect balance for victory at the fourth try!
Lesson No. 4.
If our people had a different mentality, our politicians would be better and human(e). Stop looking at me like that. It is true that the masses are to blame for the untold corruption and Neanderthalness that we accuse our political office holders of. We live a lie as a people when we think that a greedy, miserly electorate would birth saintly leaders. Do we think political office holders mint the money they use in feeding the unbearable pressure we bring on them via our insatiable demand for assistance with our children’s fees, grandparents’ burial, wedding, hospital and sundry expenses? If you pretend not to know, I can help: they got it from our very commonwealth. Shut up, people, we are the reason our political leaders steal. Or, don’t we reward them with chieftaincy honours and pout at those who, because they didn’t steal, have nothing to give us?
Lesson No. 5.
Godfathers, godchildren and supporters are high on politics. And pretence. A political leader, say a godfather or his godson who holds public office, may be a disaster taking one anti-people step or decision after another; yet his supporters would continue to defend him vociferously, especially in public, as if they belong in North Korea. Ditto the godson whose godfather has been breathing down his neck. In private, he growls away the suffocation; but in public, when mention is made of the same godfather, this same godson (or goddaughter for that matter) has the good sense to smile so gleefully, even pouring encomia upon him. Political protégés never seem to see anything wrong in even the most ridiculous misdeed by the politician they support; at least not in public. For example, in spite of the prevalent hunger nationwide, Buharists would call for your head if you as much as called on the President to do something. They are not alone. GEJites continue to cry over spilt milk, about how the ex-President was the best thing since ice cream, when they know deep in their hearts that even they also had a rough deal under his watch.
Everything about politicians and their supporters is politics; and make-believe. Nothing else matters. Well, until the bubble bursts. That is when they move on. And, the beat goes on!
Funny, right? Wrong, but that’s the thing about Politics Nigeriana: the more involved you get, the more stupid you become. Everything in the game is about self, and survival. So much motion; very little or no movement.
•To be continued!
The s ocial media, ever entertaining, monstrously creative and unendingly mischievous, have been feasting on the latest America Wonder: Trump Victory of last Tuesday. I found one of their servings and thought you would love it. Here you are:
‘A man with no political experience has just been elected President of the most powerful nation on earth. Yet, one small company in Lagos that can’t even pay up to N50,000 will tell you to come with ten year-experience. Nonsense’.