As a schoolboy, the enthralling word ‘magic’ conveyed manifold meanings to me. During those school days, the word accommodated all the tricks children played to deceive one another. I remember in my village where, as young boys playing football, we believed that burying a dead lizard at the back of a goalpost will prevent the opponents from scoring goals. Many times, this magic worked but sometimes, it failed and the opponents won. Such was our understanding of magic. In a different context, magic meant an act which could not be explained by any natural means. For example, it was pure magic for a rainmaker to cause rain to fall in one village while sunshine scorched the next village. And so, magic occupied its place in my puerile mind with different meanings until the demands of academic rigour forced me to engage it as a literary genre where it acquired the composite term ‘magical realism’. For those who may not know, magical realism is the infusion of unbelievable, fantastic, and supernatural elements in real-life situations. In magical realism, the real world intersects with the spiritual world to produce bizarre, grotesque conditions. The foregoing provides a platform for many literary works to flourish among them, Ben Okri and Amos Tutuola’s novels, The Famished Road and The Palm-Wine Drinkard.
In a way, our country is gradually becoming a study in magic. Daily, we are overwhelmed by events which defy empirical explanations. Given our collective unconscious subscription to hedonism, we are unfortunately enervated to pursue the truth and resist impunity on different levels. As a result, we accept crass despoliation of public structures especially leadership. How does one explain the acute lack of security across the country? Yet, we all wake up every day, hit the road and move on with our lives, unknowingly postponing the doomsday. Today’s essay is not about insecurity. It is about the magic orchestrated in Edo State by Nigeria’s two leading political parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC). Before our eyes, grand magic was performed and we all applauded, admitting once again another profanity to our national ethos. What happened in Edo State was pure magic and unfortunately, many people took sides in the imbroglio. It grieves my heart to see Nigerians square up against one another in support of either PDP or APC. It is that lack of knowledge and awareness which drives a fowl to flirt with a hyena without realizing that tragedy is near. PDP and APC, what is the difference? I have always maintained in many different essays that there is absolutely nothing different between the two political parties. Hardly is there any member of the two parties who has not belonged to the other party in the past. The two parties are the same thinly separated by nomenclature.
At the centre of the magic was the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and the former governor Adams Oshiomole. Four years ago, Godwin Obaseki was screened and found to be qualified to contest the governorship election representing APC. I have seen many videos where Adams Oshiomole campaigned vigorously for Obeseki eulogizing him in a sumptuous style. Four years down the line, Obaseki could not pass the APC screening exercise. It was discovered that there are irregularities in his academic credentials. I have also seen videos where Obaseki described PDP in insolent terms, using words and phrases you wouldn’t associate with a man of good intentions. However, during the recent magic in Edo State, following Obaseki’s disqualification by the APC, he immediately went back to his vomit, scooped it and swallowed in the glare of the whole world. Right now, he is a PDP member, and expectedly he will emerge their flag bearer in the next Edo gubernatorial election. Indeed, magic is real and do happen.
How on earth did the APC conjure to disqualify Godwin Obaseki? By disqualifying him, APC indicted itself as a political party established in double standards. If Obaseki is parading doubtful credentials now, it follows that APC should be prosecuted for fielding ineligible candidate in an election four years ago. But this is Nigeria where magic is a way of life. APC holds the trophy for the best conjurer of magic in living memory. With the party, anything is possible. As long as APC is concerned, under a special arrangement, God and Satan can have dinner. In the APC lexicography, impossible is nothing and that is the language of magic. Today, Oshiomole and Obaseki are sworn enemies, nothing can be more ridiculous. Yet, a deluded, brainwashed, and helpless populace watch with glee as their intelligence is daily insulted by the current political class. In a normal clime, the populace in Edo State will prevent the gubernatorial election from taking place or insist that APC should be disqualified from contesting the election. Also, Obaseki does not have any moral justification to even go near the PDP secretariat much less, becoming a member to represent them in the next election. Does Obaseki not have any conscience? This is a party he condemned, spewing forth insults and expletives against them. Today, he has made a u-turn, praising the party all in the name of power. Considering Soyinka’s remark that “life is honour, it ends when honour ends”, are there politicians in Nigeria who have life and its derivative honour?
Our country is a platform for magic. It is the same magic which saw Atiku Abubakar serve as Nigeria’s Vice President for eight years and suddenly, the APC remembered that he is from Cameroun. It is also the same magic which blinded Nigerians when President Buhari contested elections as a presidential candidate thrice before winning the fourth time. But suddenly, the PDP remembered that he didn’t have a school certificate in the 2019 presidential elections, pure magic. It is surely in the line of magic that Hope Uzodinma emerged as the Imo State governor, magic everywhere.
Shall we continue to be spectators in the arena of magic that our country has become? Are we so devastated by need that we are too occupied fighting for survival than rejecting the deluge of vulgarity upon us? I am just wondering if Nigerians have completely resigned to fate, without power, energy or drive to reject criminality in whatever guise it appears. Is it possible that we have completely accepted defeat and submitted ourselves to our traducers to do with us whatever that pleases them? I read recently that Kenyans, the small East African country, marched to their presidency demanding his resignation. What is the source of this castrate consciousness across the country? How and when did we lose our collective voices to say no? Indeed, we must not blame God or anybody for that matter if this kind of magic being rehearsed now is fully dramatized in the next general election. If also we continue to allow this kind of Edo magic, then we must never be seen looking forward to any election year because magic will always happen and we can only look on and debate the magical issues on social media.
Dr. Adiele teaches in the Department of English, Mountain Top University via [email protected]