English literary genius, William Shakespeare, even without the intervening benefit of quality education was directly in touch with the Muse which possessed him at will. In the play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare demonstrates an abiding commitment to the potently demystifying elements of political power play.
The intricacies of politics are inexorably sustained by ambition, sublime greed and a messianic complex. Nothing is at once more boldly dialectical and more intriguingly arcane than political power play.
Those who have served the government in one capacity or another will understand the above point better. At the centre of Shakespeare’s tragic whirlwind is the eponymous character, Julius Caesar, a Roman army general who tries to veil his ambition to become the Roman ultimate ruler by reluctantly rejecting the crown offered to him three times by Mark Anthony during the feast of Lupercal. Caesar was a dictator and a tyrant to his political rivals, but his policies were people-oriented. The Romans loved him as direct beneficiaries of his policies which was underlined by his acts of charity and philanthropic gestures. Mark Anthony reveals this much during his famous funeral oration in honour of the murdered Caesar.
The Romans would rather accept Caesar’s dictatorship and tyranny as long as his policies transmute to socio-economic and political possibilities which is what good governance entails.
In a sense, Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari can parallel the situation captured in Shakespeare’s timeless play highlighted above. For sure, Buhari’s ascendency to the highest office in the land has been fraught with diverse misdirection, failed election promises, security challenges, economic hardship and in fact a divided polity. It was almost certain that had elections been conducted two years after Buhari came to power, he would have lost in the most convincing manner irrespective of the opposition. But because his time in office is constitutionally four years, he has remained in power overseeing a populace wallow in benighted conditions sometimes worse than bestial. While the nation waited in anticipation for him to indicate interest to be re-elected or to retire to Daura, the soldier-turned politician announced that he indeed, would want to seek the mandate of the people for another four years. It is not clear whether his intention to be re-elected is informed by a general economic improvement or material mutations which have become active elements in the formulation of his political idiosyncrasies. It is also not clear whether his re-election bid is fuelled by a compelling desire to effectively design a prognosis that will revive our ailing economy and the general social politic. Whatever be the case, Nigerians are faced with a president who wants to be re-elected for another term of four years.
Some people have argued that Buhari has succeeded in remedying the constant financial and economic haemorrhage in the country, driving acclaimed thieves out of business which is why some political principalities insist he must quit the stage. Those who hold this view believe that Buhari’s score card in the corruption index is quite high as they rate him the most austere, financially honest president Nigeria has ever had. His traducers disagree with this line of argument noting that a leader who looks away or feign ignorance while his workers steal cannot totally be free from complicity. While Nigerians are at it, three years have gone by and the drums of another election have begun to cascade our tender ear drums. Like a man stirred from slumber by sounds of gunfire, the Buhari administration is suddenly alive to the responsibility of governance.
Recently, in a show of grit responsibility and empathy, Buhari revisited June 12, a date indelibly ascribed on the emotions of every Nigerian of good will. Although, many have concluded that June 12 was dead and buried, a view which made past presidents insensately ignore the date and consign it to the dung heap of history, Buhari accorded the date the respect it deserves by declaring it Nigeria’s precise day of democracy instead of the misnomer of May 29. This move has been widely acclaimed all over Nigeria even by the worst critics of the Buhari administration. Besides, according the date its fully deserved place in history, Buhari also conferred on MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 elections, a post- humous award of the highest title in the land GCFR. There are unconfirmed reports too that the presidency is considering releasing the results of that election officially and conferring on MKO Abiola the status of a past president. Indeed, a positive attitude which affirms the unity of the country and revives hopes of the populace will always be welcomed by all.
There are opinions that Buhari’s decisions with regards to June 12 is politically motivated. Such submissions by mischievous elements are delivered with extreme obliquity and reveals the sinister forces capable of dismembering the strands that make up our fragile national fabric. Politics is all about taking decisions that will in one way or another point the country towards integration and unity. Politics is all about aggregating interests and taking decisions that will endear the people to the subsisting power machinery. Politics is all about creating possibilities within the polity which will revive the receding memories of equitable governance. If, indeed, Buhari’s decisions regarding June12 is political, then it follows, without ambiguity that he is a good politician. If his decision on June 12 is taken with the elections of 2019 around the corner, Nigerians would not mind if he takes more decisions that will improve their lives even if such decisions are motivated by electoral gains. This is what I call politics of possibilities, the Julius Caesar style.
If Buhari has suddenly been roused from obvious lethargy and inertia with electoral gains in mind, then it is a welcome development. Let him quickly attend to the abysmal supply of electricity all over the country and if his attention towards that sector yields fruit, Nigerians will be happier for it. If also Buhari is roused to action because he is minded to continue in office, then let him quickly turn his attention to the security situation in the country where many Nigerians are butchered in organized pogrom by the marauding herdsmen. If Buhari has addressed June 12 with 2019 elections in mind, it means that he recognises the roles the people will play and, therefore, has decided to pander to their wishes. In the same consciousness, let him attend to the nitty gritty of economic mathematics that will translate to a better living conditions for the people. It is important to reiterate that Buhari is very unpopular in the South-East and South-South. He must, indeed, find a way to assuage their bruised impulses and address all the injustice in those two separate regions. If electoral gains in mind is what it will take any under-performing political office holder to rise to the responsibility of equitable governance, so be it. It certainly will be a welcome development if our elected leaders recognise the potency in the voters’ power and rise to take decisions that will transform their lives.
Adiele writes from Department of English
University of Lagos