By Michael Bush
Whether in all of her century and counting or since 1999, when democracy in Nigeria has remained unbroken in spite of and despite the cornucopia of undemocratic idiosyncrasies by Nigerians, there cannot be any gainsaying the fact that Politics Nigeriana exists. Remember the guys in khaki who held the country by the jugular for years on end? That was Phase One of the Nigerian brand of politics. Unlike in that old testament (?) when the military were in charge with a sprinkle of civilians here and there in tow, the new testament Phase Two begins and ends with civilians top and bottom. Problem though is, civilian politicians in Nigeria are more military or more uncivil in every sense than soldiers.
Roll the tape back to the eve of Year 2000. Since we neither have the space nor the time, let’s look at a few popular (notorious, really) cases where politics proved that 1 + 1 = 11; not 2. We saw in broad daylight how one good turn only deserved a slap or something worse. I don’t want the man’s trouble otherwise I would have begun my examples with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose detractors insist turned on the very people who brought him, the moment he took power. Ditto my home State of Akwa Ibom, where Chiefs Etiebet, Attah and Akpabio (in that order) must sit together willy nilly to exorcise the land of the political evil spirit that continues to torment every political relationship in the State. Or, would they rather wait for their next of kin, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, to join the ‘do unto’ queue first?
Forgive me for speaking in tongues. I want to make amends by ‘afghanistanising’, as journalists are won’t to say. Please sail with me to the South East. We berth simultaneously at Abia and Enugu States. In 2007, outgoing Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu brushed aside family, friends and the powers that be to install his Chief of Staff, Chief Theodore Orji, as successor. His swearing in had barely ended when the humble Orji transmogrified into a lion. Of course you know who he targeted as his first prey of choice. In next door Enugu, Chief Jim Nwobodo sought political anonymity, as it were, when Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, who they say he made governor, eyed him as bird of prey. Since they must do unto you as you did unto others, Nnamani’s some-say-most-extra-quiet-and-preferred-successor, Attorney General Sullivan Chime, injected him with twice the dosage of his ingratitude the moment he took over Government House, Enugu in 2007. It seems to me Nnamani is yet to recover from the ad hoc culture shock of the politics of ingratitude..
Is there anyone reading this who is not appalled by the monstrosity of Politics Nigeriana? The sheer ingratitude, the monumental daredevilry, coupled with the uncanny ability of the players, big and small, complete with their supporters who are never in short supply, to keep a straight face no matter the degree of havoc committed. By the way, tomorrow, I shall discuss the Judiciary Nocturnal Invasion, and our trademark hypocrisy and doublespeak which have come to tint the aftermath of the DSS action. Don’t miss it, if you can. And, don’t allow anything in this game to break you. Politics Nigeriana might be the game of the majority but quite strangely, it is unmathematical through and through. In Politics Nigeriana, five is greater and higher than six. Nigerian political players and their supporters are colour-blind: white is hardly black; black is mostly white. It only depends per time on whether you are supporter or opponent. If you are a Buharist, you’d see slow but insist it’s speed; while GEJites, if they still exist, would never accept that the crude stealing we have come to hear about that era was/is corruption. As you ruminate on how that, let’s run back to Aso Rock where in the course of time there came along a Jonathan, a descendant of OBJ; a Jonathan who angled to jump on board the evil bandwagon of serving someone his own medicine. Incensed by such audacity of ingratitude, the master tore what we thought was a mere card into shreds. Alas, at the end, we all saw that the mere card was someone’s reelection result sheet.
By the way, that is another side to Politics Nigeriana: things are not always as they seem. A godson you see today as a lively lamb may indeed be a deadly tiger whose tigritude is concealed or still at embryonic stage because he doesn’t want godfather to change his mind about giving him power. Also, names don’t mean what you think they do. For instance, as I alluded to earlier, initiates will tell you that stealing is not corruption. It was so then, it is so now: the current anti-corruption campaign is about yesterday. Season two of the campaign, post-PMB, will take care of today. Father in Heaven, please keep me alive so I witness the future of this corruption war. I shall be happy when fighters today are not proved tomorrow to have been ‘fighting corruption for mouth’. That is, today as they show us so-called big men and women who yesterday took what wasn’t theirs; current catchers are themselves not small enough to follow suit seeing that no one is watching. Pray with me, please: may the men and women we bow and tremble for today not tremble tomorrow before the law; may they not be busy committing. Help them, God!
Which leaves you wondering: is the whole thing even worth all the trouble, all the hate, all the war, all the shame, all the seesawing? On top today, enjoying, reigning. Right under tomorrow, in prison, or dragged from one court to the other every one thinking or believing you stole. Is this ‘politics nonsense’ even worth it at all? Furthermore, is our national leadership misfortune a function of the lousy nature of Politics Nigeriana? Do we blame our Neanderthal politics for the total absence or erosion of our values and sanity as a people? What about the perennial disaster intra-Nigeria friendships and partnerships have been? Is it possible that because we are so unthinkably unthankful of political support or help, suspicion has crept into and become a part of or indeed a killjoy that nips every blessing in the bud?
And, come, why is our politics so evilesque? Why do good people reap bad; why do those who worked never eat the good of the victory? Why is it that in Nigeria, the dividends of political victory are enjoyed by those who either opposed the making of the victory or were not even present? Why does evil always win in our politics? Why so much ingratitude? By the way, is that why, as Proverbs 17:13 warns, evil multiplies in our politics and leadership? Why do people change once they take power? Why do we the people allow ourselves to be so easily deceived by all the newspeak? Even worse, why do we allow politicians to get away with so much atrocity? Finally, with all we have seen; with all we have heard; with all we have experienced; with all we have come to know, I ask again: is Politics Nigeriana really worth it? If no, isn’t it time we discarded it? What choices do we have, ‘mbok’? God bless Nigeria!