We’re a conquered people. We are more critical of those who honestly seek to free us from bondage than we are of those who actually put us in the bondage.
In a very private chat with a respected senior citizen a few months ago, I had asked to know what he felt about the direction Nigeria’s politics and politicking was head. But I was taken aback when he calmly asked me: “which politics?”.
According to him, everybody is currently walking on eggshells, and there can be no serious, sincere or real politics in Nigeria until President Muhammadu Buhari has had his second term and left the scene.
I’m beginning to think he is right on point.
Among the opposition parties, men who should ordinarily be taking on the government in power are doing so with utmost caution, with their thoughts permanently fixed on the possible consequences of their actions rather than the propriety of such actions. The body language is that they are unsure of which instrument of state would be deployed against them, in response to their actions and/or comments.
Even within the ruling party, persons who have every reason to speak up have suddenly lost their voice.
So, all we’re seeing is motion and no movement. For our political landscape has been taken over by men without balls, let alone, guts. Tragedy of a nation!
Nothing probably captures this state of anomie than the recent spate of defections, especially from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Very few of the defectors have been bold enough to look the real problem in the face and say it as it is. All the defectors say they are unhappy with the way the party is being run, but, curiously, they find nothing wrong with the leader of the party, who happens to be President Buhari.
Until the APC happened on the scene, we always thought the fish began its rotting from the head. Today, that is not the story in the APC. The defectors would have us believe that while the entire body of the fish has decayed, the head is still very fresh and unspoiled. But we know the truth: Men are too scared to be men.
So, what do we have? Somebody decamps from the APC, but half-heartedly tells us he would still work for the re-election of Buhari, who happens to be the embodiment of everything APC.
We saw a bit of this utter lack of guts in the National Assembly, but the governors recently took it to a new height.
Having failed to impose his son-in-law as the APC guber candidate in the state, Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, who claims to still be a member of the APC, has moved nearly all his loyalists to the Action Alliance, AA.
The said son in-law, who has already been awarded the AA ticket, has started putting up campaign billboards. Incidentally, his billboards have pictures of him and Buhari – and none of his father in-law-godfather’s – even though the governors is also contesting for a senate seat.
Someone described it as the height of ‘iberiberism’. I’ll not join in that ‘hate speech’. But it’s interesting to read how Okorocha explained away this anomaly.
“What will happen is that while they (the decampees to AA) move to realise their ambition under any other platform, I remain in APC and support them. Such parties will have no presidential candidate, but will adopt President Muhammadu Buhari as their candidate.”
Okorocha had earlier told the press conference that he would deal with any of the decamping politicians who disobeyed his directive to deliver Imo State to Buhari.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with one party refusing to field a presidential candidate and adopting another party’s candidate. What is confusing is when the only governor of an APGA, which has already chosen its presidential candidate, is increasingly accused of working to deliver APC’s Buhari. Equally confusing is when some governors are PDP by day, and Buharists by night. I thought the politicians had something they called anti-party activities, which their constitutions frowned at? Apparently, it no longer matters.
The anti-party fad is catching on everywhere, as the same scenario is playing out in Ogun State, where loyalists of Gov. Ibikunle Amosun have now decamped to APM. But Amosun says he will stay in APC and ensure Buhari wins the presidency. Meanwhile, he has promised to do everything to stop Dapo Abiodun, the APC candidate.
Adamawa, Oyo and Ondo chapters of the APC are also affected by this same meltdown, as several politicians who had banked on their alleged closeness to PMB to ‘win’ their party tickets were literally abandoned midstream by the president. One South West governor even said God would not forgive him if he did anything to stop his loyalists de-camping to another party. The governor who was an arrowhead of the group that rebelled against the alleged control of the Jagaban and joined forces with Abuja to whittle down Asiwaju’s influence in the zone, is now literally a political orphan, even when he still nurses some illusion of political grandeur.
But we know what the problem is: Many politicians without any verifiable structures, but who claimed to be on ground and in control, had built built monstrous castle-in-the air structures, by merely waving the Buhari name, which is now the newest political talisman in the land. A new political magic wand.
In many places, especially in the northern parts of the country, many people who could not ordinarily win councilorship elections had hidden under the Buhari name and smuggled themselves into the National Assembly and their respective state government houses. They literally blackmailed the local electorate to either thumbprint under duress, or to look the other while their collective will was being subverted. Now, the chickens have come home to roost, and they’re all being exposed for the political paperweights they are.
Today, the scales having fallen from the eyes of the respective local electorate, many have put down their feet, refusing to be intimidated by the mere mention of the Buhari name. And the result is that many political sand castles (butterflies which, until now, thought themselves to be birds) have come crumbling down.
Buhari, at the last minute, had refused to raise a finger to assist any of them wrest the power they had previously boasted about.
Of course, the president’s action is understandable: in a subtle desperation for his own re-election, PMB had gone into new deals with other political principalities and powers, and sacrificed many of those who hitherto thought they were the president’s men. I suspect, people like a certain communications minister have yet to even recover.
So, even as the PDP appears to be wobbling and fumbling, the APC platform appears to be crumbling on all those standing under it.
And you might say it serves them right. When we were in secondary school, all the elementary English Language texts, including the ones by the celebrated S.M.O Aka, taught us to stand ‘on’ political platforms, not ‘under’ them. So, when today’s politicians decide to stand ‘under’ platforms, they can always expect to be crushed by such platforms whenever the real stampede begins.
Unfortunately, I can’t advise them to stand under the umbrella of another party. For that, in Nigeria, could be misinterpreted to mean asking them to join the PDP.
But, jokes apart, 2019 is increasingly looking like a tragicomedy in the making. Clearly, we’re just a bunch of rats moving about ‘freely’ in a cage. Clearly, we’re a conquered people. We are more critical of those who honestly seek to free us from bondage than we are of those who actually put us in the bondage.