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Next month, when the current democratic tenure rounds off year two, first-term executive helmsmen are expected to engage gear for re-election. In typical Nigerian fashion, the empty campaigns would essentially be just heavy concentrations of opponent insults with a touch of the collectanea of achievements recorded so far or expected to be by tenure end. The rest would be what I call Politics Nigeriana fillers: Music, dance, drinking, money, fighting, betrayal, and of course, promises upon promises of what would be if. Oh, Nigeria: Rich nation, poor people.
This is the emerging tragedy of the 21st century. Those who love this country weep and mourn or at least shed a tear when they ruminate on her politics and politicians. How on earth did such a beautiful country end up with such ugly politique and even uglier political gamesters? How can scores of millions of people who say they know God allow themselves to be trampled upon, in the name of leadership, by a few thousands who clearly neither love nor fear God? Why should a people who seem so brilliant maintain deafening silence, which is not golden, in the face of brazen inhumanity displayed day in day out by so-called leaders? And worst of all, why do we allow this same good-for-nothing politics and twice as bad politicians to influence even sacred areas of our nationhood?
What and who else (if not politics and politicians) would brainwash our altruistic patriots namely soldiers and policemen to the point of turning on each other, because of a girlfriend; deploying the same arms given to them in trust for purposes of protecting our nation and people? What about the rot that the untold decline in our value system and the alarming rise in money-mongering have jointly visited on our education sector? Our children endure hell a la JAMB just to pursue university education. Pray, what manner of country reaches orgasm only when she makes suffering, not love, to her people?
Why do we play politics with everything, and everywhere? Would Nigeria and Nigerians be better off without politics and politicians? Imagine, a state governor in a rare holier than thou posture releasing his pay slip; simultaneously calling out the national assembly, Nigeria’s highest lawmaking lever of power that has suffered perennial nationwide suspicion of humongous earnings shrouded in secrecy. The speaker of that national legislature, in taking that bait, and choosing to speak through one of his lieutenants not only releases his own pay slip but also retaliates with a rather puerile challenge of asking the governor who stirred the hornet’s nest to go the whole log and release his security vote. Imagine also, EFCC discovering anonymous loot. These guys are fond of playing with fire. Doling out critical financial statements in tiny doses or performing official cover-up is an abuse on our collective intellect. One day!
Enough of the lamentation, though. Back to winning ways: as is the won’t of Nigerians, a majority of whom love to claim expertise even in areas they know next to nothing, there’s generous literature to review when it comes to perspectives of why then-incumbent, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, lost presidential election 2015. Blames have been apportioned to the man himself; his ‘minority-ness’; his wife; his team; his party; as well as the integrity of his major challenger and eventual nemesis, President Muhammadu Buhari; the merger called APC; and indeed at that time the unanimity for change.
Perhaps not, since it is easy to pick a hole here and there. Most, if not all, of these factors existed during the 2011 election which featured both men. The fact that the former had the upper hand then compels the need now to dig deeper to understand why he would four years after win the booby prize of first sitting Nigerian president to lose election. I believe that Dr. Jonathan ran out of (good)luck in 2015 because of PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT or the lack of it. Recall that immediately after INEC recognition, the All-Progressives Congress had set out to attack the integrity of both the serving president and his People’s Democratic Party. Suddenly, we began to see (starting with five governors) mass defections from the ruling party into the APC; defections which were casually dismissed as nothing by the PDP. It was a massive naivety, because that nothing created a perception that was something in the minds of both the Nigerian electorate and the watching world.
That explains why the tsunami, which the presidential election in question turned out to be, was expected. That 2015 scenario is currently brewing in some states where the same APC, a party that’s so good at some of these things, is stylishly pilfering PDP manpower. Things have become so bad that not a day passes without the media being awash with news of ‘a PDP stalwart’ defecting with ‘hundreds’ or ‘thousands of supporters to the APC’. While we may thankfully not yet have heard of these supporters being in millions, PDP handlers must stop dismissing these stories as failure-prone propaganda; because impressions are already solidifying in the hearts of even its diehard members. As the Ibeno people of Akwa Ibom State would say, ‘this matter is beyond be-careful’.
PDP or any other party looking to outsmart APC in 2019 must emulate the incumbent Strong Man of Rivers, by arising and shining with evidence and counter-action that it has decoded the APC strategy. To be sure, the governing party is not using superior performance to win converts; it is doing so with superior politics, which is mainly rooted in perception. Any non-APC office holder seeking a second term or any aspirant who desires to defeat an APC opponent in 2019 must necessarily learn Perception Management 101; to have any chance at all. That’s how we roll in this game: politics not performance; perception not reality. God bless Nigeria!
Some fine apolitical Nigerians in government
One of the sad commentaries on leadership in our country is the Neanderthal, maniacal partisanship flaunted by most office holders. It’s so sickening that a member of Party A who only defected to Party B yesterday would pour invectives on his former party, swearing never to have anything to do again with the party or any of its members. And, most PDP members see no good in the excellence performed by an APC office holder, and vice versa. Nothing disunites a people more than such political immaturity.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari signed on a few citizens whose conduct and speech offer double assurance. Permit me to mention two but to expatiate on one: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Petroleum Minister of State Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. Love or hate them, you are proud to have them as your leaders.
A little over a fortnight ago, Dr. Kachikwu was on duty in Akwa Ibom, a PDP state. I cheered to no end in my heart how he disagreed with Gov. Udom Emmanuel when he needed to but poured encomia on him where necessary: ‘Seeing what your governor is doing’, he told the gala crowd, ‘every state in Nigeria must elect their own Udom Emmanuel’ going forward. Truly, some Nigerians in politics don’t play (party) politics!