Friday, 27 March 2015

Politics, Poli-tricks and Loyalties

A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: Nigeria in focus - Politics, Poly-tricks and Loyalties:
My heart goes out to those bold enough to have commented on the heated polity that currently pervades political space within the country and I applaud if not for nothing but for the brazen boldness to speak where others cringe with fear- indeed Soyinka (Nobel Laureate) posits that "The man dies in him who remains silent in the face of tyranny."
Each from his own corner has tried to debunk the pretentious propaganda of powerful prevarications.
There's no other place like Nigeria on the face of the earth. No other race with the zest for life that the Nigerian has. No other race with such acute survival instincts. Long before the world caught on to the 'celebration of a life well spent' on the death of a loved one, Nigerians had been celebrating the transitions to glory and peaceful rest no matter how 'terrible' the deceased's life may have been on earth.
That is why as the Presidential campaigns reach fever pitch, and the sails of the ship of state seem to be succcumbing to the ruthlesness of 'hurricane change' those of us for whom partisan politics mean much more than just the win at any cost game are saddened that once again 'multitudes' have latched onto a buzz word -- 'change' -- (survival instinct) with such ferocious tenacity that it begets the question -- [ se 'nkan wa n'be' -- in Yoruba], which in our assumed English may weakly translate to the rhetorical 'hope there is nothing else behind it ? '.
Euphemistically speaking many are all but ready to immediately transport GMB to the glory of Aso Rock -- a palace he was unlucky not to enjoy in his 'hey' days -- a reason for which I can understand his present desperation to get there even with a final push of subterfuge , innuendos and naked threats to a highly politicised Nigeria. It is heart-warming though that the storms of even those caustic vituperations of contemned conscripts have now subsided somewhat.
Truth is that Nigerians love life-- no matter what anyone says the survival instinct of the Nigerian is his most acutely responsive instinct. Is it any wonder therefore that when In 2011 it was rumored that the General threatened he would make the nation ungovernable for the present government many whispered in shadowed corridors that this Boko Haram 'thing' should be laid squarely at the General's feet. But in public no one dared shout out. Lo and behold, before our very eyes we saw what happened : 2011 to 2015 Nigeria has been embattled and shaken by Boko Haram -- an obviously well funded and heavily militarized organization. The threat of Boko Haram has been so severe that Nigerians feel this is indeed a naked attack on their survival prospects and most are immediately willing to jump into the ' train of change' simply as a means of self preservation.
The 2015 near gutter-side Presidential campaigns that have been going on has witnessed naked and subtle threats and counter-threats sometimes of national annihilation from both sides. And because for us Nigerians survival comes first, mentally and spiritually we have been brow-beaten and many are already willing to give the general free passage to Aso Rock --after all he is THE GENERAL albeit retired.
But enough of this impertinence. I must admit here and now that this is just my singular warped-up view and may not, I repeat, not, have really captured the entire picture with untainted clarity. The thrust of my discourse is actually on the more general theme of 'political options and loyalties'. Is GMB the best option that the opposition can throw at Nigerians? Should GMB even be an option that any political party in Nigeria could adopt? Maybe I should borrow from Soyinka yet again : " Any event is welcome in prison, even the threat of cerebro-spinal Buharism -- sorry -- cerebro-spinal meningitis and unpleasant needle jabs".(Soyinka --the man died).
Should GMB even begin to be considered a viable entity for deployment into the pool of political probabilities? For heaven's sake there are about 180 million Nigerians. Let us assume that a mere 5% of this population are professionals that would be a whopping 9 million. Let us for theoretical purposes also assume that the first assumption has a 50 % margin of error which leaves us with an estimated population of 4.5million true professionals nationwide. My thinking is that if any opposition party worth its salt wants to truly challenge for the Presidency, surely it can find, cultivate and culture an elegantly viable option to throw into the democratic political play field. They had the past four years to do it. But of course we know that really and truly they did not have four years to do anything but seek out avenues to maximize the 'chop I chop' process. I should immediately disclaim here that these are the views from my myopic lens and I have no stature whatsoever to impugn any of the honorable gentlemen traversing the corridors of state and federal power (they were voted in you know!) -- except of course my right to free speech.
So after four years of sleeping and dining with the devil the principal opposition suddenly realized they had no chance of wrestling power for themselves. They were ill prepared and had no viable face to present to the restive masses. They had no viable political ideology or modus operandi to successfully compete at Federal level. Believe me the simple masterstroke of the current ruling party since inception has been the concept of rotational Presidency and not really the alleged rigging. As a people if we believe 'our turn will come soon', we are willing to wait : you chop, I chop. Infact, that was one of the premises on which OBJ emerged as the Presidential candidate in 1999 (there were other concealed deals which surfaced midway into his first tenure and just before the 2003 elections.)
 Sensing that once again defeat is imminent at the presidentials, the principal opposition now realizes it needs a face and demographic to rock the boat of complacency at Abuja. In all honesty, there is no contest in this. The contest here is how can any credible opposition prop up and present to 180 million Nigerians and about 4 million highly educated, vibrant and vocal professionals an option that has been rejected again and again, as the only viable only viable option. It beats my imagination. But of course if we put it in the context of Wole Soyinka's -- "any event is welcome in prison..." then we can begin to understand how much the psyche of Nigerians has been 'compromised'
Although human rights and constitutional rights are intrinsic to a good democratic process, each is essentially mutually independent from the other.
A democratic process as we all know from elementary government derives life and strength from the people. Whereas citizens like GMB have a constitutional right to aspire and indeed muscle desperation to 'gate-crash' into Aso Rock , there should be a moral responsibility for all eligible voters of all generations to consistently prohibit 'non-democratic' coupists who by design or singular misfortune never succeed in steering nations under their watch back to the playfields of democracy, -- eligible voters of all generations should consistently deny such as these the most lucrative benefit of the democratic process in Africa-- being elected to the higest office of the land in whatever guise or 'disguise' they may have come. The few however that do succeed either by design or singular fortunes to steer nations under their watch back to the playfields of democracy should be given a second chance to enjoy those benefits once more because you and I intuitively know that not one single one of them ever go their to better the lot of the masses as a prime objective. The betterment of our lot may indeed come as a by-product of the 'chemical reactions' between greed and grab. Indeed in most cases 'betterment of the masses' only serves as a catalyst in the chemical reaction -- it speeds up the reaction between greed and grab but remains unchanged itself. (Thank God I finally let it out!!!! Now I can breathe better.)
Before the argument drifts into rough waters from which i may not be able to see dry land, let me steer back to the fundamental question: Is General Muhammed Buhari the best option APC can offer Nigerians? How does one answer such a question in a political crucible like Nigeria, where political reactions are reaching fever pitch and one wrong word can draw venom and vitriol from either side and more often than not both sides? May be the best way to search for answers is to look at track records in perspective.
In 1979 OBJ handed Nigeria to a democratically elected government led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari. After winning a second term in 1983 and with corruption at an all time high, the Military in 1984 overthrew the elected government of Nigeria and immediately suspended the constitution, ruling by decrees. The biggest beneficiary of the truncation of that democracy was -- as everyone knows , GMB. Let us for a moment assume the 1983 elections were grossly flawed and corruption was at its zenith , my thinking is that a democratic minded officer would have planned for an election within a yearand set the country back on a democratic path (but history tells us this hardly happens) .
The GMB1983 regime set out on a path of intimidation with the obnoxious decree 4 and a stiffling economic policy: All capital projects were put on hold, State governments were prohibited from borrowing, there was a ban on recruitment of federal public sector workers -- policies that resulted in massive job losses and business closures and strangulated the Nigerian economy and psyche so badly that Nigerians jubilated when he was overthrown . In essence and in reality this evidently implies that GMB'S first stint as Head of State was a clear failure and a total rejection by the good people of Nigeria. In 2003, 2007 and 2011 Nigerians in totality, again categorically rejected the GMB option although presented on a different platform. If Nigerians did indeed unequivocally reject GMB in 1983, 2003, 2007 and 2011 what could have so drastically changed that this option is now being bandied as the only viable option available today despite our massive population of 'egg-heads'? Maybe our sense of discernment has dulled with time or maybe there are greater undercurrents f**king with our collective psyche and our fear for survival instigates us to 'welcome in this our prison even the threat of cerebro-spinal ..... '
I remember as a student at UNILAG, visiting the toilet once in the hostel where I resided, Eni Njoku hall, UNILAG. As with most undergraduate hostel toilets at that time of the day it was criminal dirty. I tip-toed in and closed the door and settled to do my thing when my eyes strayed to the scribblings on the door. One particular item blew my mind. Permit me to assault your sensibilities with this unrefined quote:
      "30 million flies can't be wrong-- eat shit"
It stuck in my mind forever. There comes a time I believe when as human beings we begin to question our own allegiances and the loyalties of those around us who shape our destinies one way or the other. No doubt those who are propping up the septugenarian general love him. Or do they? No doubt those who are offering him to Nigeria love Nigeria unequivocally. Time and circumstances though, have shown us that beneath the facade of smooth unconditional support , are usually strong undercurrents of intense, sometimes vicious wheeling and dealings : [OBJ-ATIKU 1999, OBJ-ATIKU2003, POST YAR'ADUA 2009 at Federal levels and the most comical situation at State level-- the Okija Shrine affair NGIGE-UBA 2003] .
Unfortunately when it all finally pans out the 'poor' Nigerian masses, highly informed, but most times ingeniously traded disinformation (which a few un-initiated call 'poli-tricking' ), and the psychologically bruised middle class and not so middle class, usually end up bearing the brunt of it all.
For purposes of this discourse let us assume that a debatable 30million Nigerians are pitched the change camp. In the overall context of 'poli-tricking' therefore a paramount and vital question that emerges as 30 million Nigerians jump on the change buzzword is : Have we quietly asked what are the deals being made and what loyalties are being peddled? Lagos State stands as a shining example of what governance should be. But some who had their ears close to the ground and eyes wide open were alarmed at how quickly progress can regress as the esteemed Jagaban and the Honourable SAN ( ex and incumbent) veered off the course of compromise and headed for collision. Capital projects suffered. Government shivered. Rumors had it that the Honorable SAN had to go and beg the esteemed Jagaban. From where I come, it is no disgrace to stoop to conquer. I admire the Honourable SAN for his courage to steer past the debacle. Jagaban's quota was refuelled and loyalties were restored. Government functioned again. What we may never know is in which ways does this quota continue impinge on the development of Lagos State. Truth is many don't really care at this point: half bread is better than none. There was a time when there was no bread at all, after all.
Today, the esteemed Jagaban is also on the change 'train'. He is an astute, no nonesense businessman. He takes his pound of flesh whether there be death or not. Indeed he takes his pound of flesh , little be it or much. Rumors have it that 500 Million Naira of his went into the propping up of the change train. I said rumors have it and yes , you guessed right : I WAS NOT THERE.
Factoring that kind of support into the scheme of things we, (all of us my people -- yes you and me) must dare to admit that this amount is by no means 'chicken change'. And if change agents are as concerned about the future of their children as they profess on camera they should be asking by now: What are the deals? What loyalties are being peddled? What stakes of the steak of state have been 'portioned' to the esteemed Jagaban's welfare. After all he is not a small boy that can be pushed around -- he is also Are Onakakanfo remember, and we hear he is not without resources. He is not a without resources, but we all know that. So What are the deals? This man is not without resources so tell us what the deals are. ('Nkan wa n'be abi, ejooo so fun wa!!)
The esteemed Jagaban's brush with the honourable SAN was at State level where the stakes were -- well, moderate if you could say that. Imagine what it could be at Federal level when the stakes are well-- only imaginable. We remember, we heard when the Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland had to adopt the posture of compromise circa 2003 @ Atiku. The rumor was that Baba never prostrated. He never prostrated. I am telling you, what I heard , he never prostrated, or did you see him prostrate? But the venerable Ekerin Balogun had the last laugh. He ran government almost all of his second term without a substantive VP. Reverting to the critical question : What would give, if the Jagaban decided to collect his pound of flesh midway into the GMB'S first term, assuming he wins, and GMB refuses. I shudder at thought.
But, loosely attached to the apron strings of loyalties is the issue of trust. 30 million Nigerians trust that the esteemed Jagaban can deliver to them a leader that will perform. Once again let us consult the 'ifa' called 'track record'. In the 90's he, the esteemed Jagaban, was one of the many fine minds and brave men and women who gave sweat , tears and sometimes blood even against the last sado-masochistic tyrant that tried to murder the Nigerian Spirit. In 1999 he was one of those who actively supported the OBJ presidential bid and, looking back, many do agree that OBJ did perform somewhat. In 2007 the Jagaban himself delivered to Lagos State the honourable SAN who 80% of the people believe actually performed admirably. So at least we have a track record that the Jagaban will deliver a candidate who can perform somewhat. If the chips were down to only the esteemed Jagaban's track record one can simply add Q.E.D to this piece and rest the case.
However with the venerable Ekerin Balogun's foray into the picture supporting GMB , an unsettling question arises. What is his track record on deliverables? In 1979 the venerable Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland delivered to us a Shagari whose government eventually failed and was overthrown. In 2007 he also delivered to us a health compromised Yar'adua the offshoot of which we are still grappling with today and which has sparked off a near national conflagration. In effect the track records of the two gentlemen on the same team have cancelled each other out. In their hey days at the helms of power, State and Federal both gentlemen never saw eye to eye and indeed called each other names. What indeed could have changed in this short period that both are virtually in the same camp (not party as yet even though the venerable Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland has torn his party card), and both are vociferously rooting for a man whom each had near denigrated in a not too distant past? Perhaps they are both much wiser now -------- or perhaps, hmm, there is a bigger soup-pot close by ------ but seriously, what are the deals? What loyalties have been traded? Are we just another 30 million flies eating s**t from a manipulative caucus that's just as greedy for itself as the incumbent who may very well yet, not be trash-can of history bound?
If the General eventually succeeds in crossing this particular Rubicon and sets up camp in Aso Rock,could this portend the trend in years to come, when after every four years political strategists will resurface and rock the ship of State once more, broker deals , rake in profits install new demi-gods and simmer down till the next fourth year comes? Dangerous visions from weakened eyes I admit.
But maybe we should conclude this piece with one of my best loved poets, Mutabarukka:
       Is a long long tyme i sit dung pon de wall
        I watch him a watch me.
        Him checks i'm a foool,
         but i well well cool....
                                   
                                  V.O.Sawyerr

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