Nigeria is not in a good place right now. Not physically, financially or spiritually. What is not broken is cracked. Indeed, everything that binds us is being trampled on by little things that threaten our unity. Yet we go to bed wishing our troubles away and hoping that when we wake they would have gone away. Of course, life does not work like that. What you do not work on does not work. Even God said he will bless the work of our hands, which means if we all sit on our hands and pray until we foam in the mouth, there will be nothing for God to bless.
Another electioneering season is here and we are speaking plenty English again. The same old refrains are up; your-vote-is-your-power, go-and-get-your-PVC, Nigerians must vote out the public officer holders who have betrayed them. Power belongs to the people. Your PVC is important. Not so important, that your precious PVC. It’s cool and good to have a permanent voters’ card (PVC) but it is not as powerful as they tell us. You can only vote with a PVC, that is all.
You cannot choose who you vote for with a PVC because it is at election primaries level that such decision are made. So what if you have a PVC? Who will you vote for when by time you get on the queue on election day the politicians have made your choice for you? You just stand there for hours waiting to choose between ‘fufu’ and ‘tuwo shinkafa’ when what you really want is steaming hot ‘amala’. But Election Day is ‘food is ready’ day. Your choice is limited to what has been cooked.
For 57 years, Nigerian has been called a nation of potentials, potentials that have largely been dormant, asleep or in a coma. There are bright, hardworking Nigerians all over the place but they don’t wanna get their hands dirty with politics. They like to watch from afar, lounging in their comfort zones and criticizing in their superior voices with facts that they googled, downloaded and memorized. They talk down on politicians, thinking they are better with their superior arguments. The politicians protest feebly, shrugging the insults off and continue what they are doing, what they have successfully done for years; ruling, ruining, running our lives as they deem fit.
They have started again, in 2018, encouraging us to get our PVCs. Meanwhile the, politicians and political parties get to choose our choices for us. They will meet all night in and outside Nigeria, on land and in private jets to decide who they will tell us to vote for with our precious PVC. All the parties are doing it, so don’t go thinking this is about PDP and APC alone. They will choose who they agree on in their covens and we will call them leaders but they are mostly usually just men and women who know their politics and always leave us poorer than they met us.
Politicians! They will bicker, accuse one another of every sin in the book, place adverts to run one another down, cross-carpet, re-cross carpet while we watch, enjoying the drama and cheering them on. Right before our very eyes, yesterday’s political foes that we swore would never be found in the same party again return to the same party, swig champagne and praise each other again. They stay rich.
We stay on the sidelines, poorer. They attend each other’s social and political parties when we all thought if they ever met again, they’d shoot each other. It’s just a game to them. That is why when politicians bury the hatchet, they bury it in your back, in my back. They know each other, we do not know them. They hold their primaries amid chair-throwing and even bullet-exchange but their primaries still hold. They clean the blood and dirt off, present to us the bald, the short, the bearded, the uncouth and beckon to us to go use our fine PVC to choose one of them. We look at the line-up and vote the bald because he is the least ugly. Maybe we will buy him a wig or do hair-grafts. We’ll manage him, we tell ourselves.
What a choice! What we want is a tall, dark or fair, handsome, well-groomed, finely brought-up gentleman not a short, bald, uncouth line-up of ugly candidates. Alas, the good ones almost always stay away. They don’t like the dirt. Mud sticks, they say. So off to the Bahamas they go.
Yet, no nation can be more prosperous than the intelligence level of its political leaders, says Professor Kingsley Moghalu. Decisions that affect your life and mine are not made by politicians in the office. They are made while we are asleep, at long night meetings over pepper soup and drinks that need no NAFDAC numbers.
Your PVC is impotent, absolutely so, if all it can get you is a politician who sold two houses to get elected. A man who can sell his house is an investor, not a leader.
He’s not the man who’ll change your life. He’s there to get ‘Return on his investment’ (ROI). A politician who gives you N1,000 so you can vote for him does not think you are worth more than N250 per year which comes to N1,000 for the four years of your life. Yeah, all you are worth is that N1,000, or simply a paint bucket of gaari. Come on, 100 liters of petrol is N14,500. A bag of rice is #10,500. And someone sells his house and pays you N1,000 for four years of your life.
You still think your PVC is powerful because they are gonna count your vote? You need to think again.
This is an on-going conversation and we’ll continue next week.
Funke Egbemode and the Danjuma interventions
What a beautiful and great story by Funke Egbemode on Sunday Sun, April 1, 2018! She titled it: Beyond the cane and pain of Danjuma’s explosion; as usual in the back page. We are lucky in this country to have patriots that have come out boldly to speak truth to power, at various times. In the past some of them used violence and in the process caused a lot of damage. OBJ wrote a well manured and articulate letter on the state of the nation. IBB in his usual subtle way added his voice repeatedly on the state of the nation and the way to go. Wole Soyinka in his usual poetic way asked PMB to come out of trance; probably a ‘Cabal’ infested and arranged prison and manipulation. So many Nigerians are alarmed at the alacrity of killer herdsmen all over Nigeria having a field day – murdering innocent women, children, poor farmers in villages and communities!
Recently I watched the governor of Delta State appealing to the police to save farmers in his state, who now must pay tax and bribe to herdsmen before they can access their farms. What an absurdity! Unarmed, joyful, ignorant youths called IPOB were invaded, massacred and outlawed as terrorists. I also watched Sunrise Daily of Channels Television: three discussants all from APC were featured – Engr Bello Suleiman, Osita Okechukwu and Alwan Hassan. Suleiman a former minister was very collected, with great details to his answers.
Osita Okechukwu, DG of VON, my Igbo brother, who tried without luck to sell a lie. Young Hassan came with his divide and rule strategy: a complete shock – he went back to history and described how TY killed Ironsi and Fajuyi, massacred 300 Igbo officers and led us to civil war that consumed two million Nigerians. We know all the history – but I ask, does the mistakes of the past justify the crimes of today done by killer herdsmen, and government’s failure to do justice or at least end the ‘ethnic cleansing’ described by General Danjuma?
Funke! I want to say that I am completely shocked at this government. General Sani Abacha was quoted to have said, that if insurgency lasts for more than 24 hours, the government has a hand in it. I completely agree with him. In the infantry school which I passed through in 1983 – the slogan was ‘Yield to Nothing’. TY is from the infantry, so was Abacha – that is why I love the Infantry – true soldiers do not pander to deceit nor double speak. This political manipulation going on in the country now must stop. I don’t see how killer herdsmen from one ethnic stock can defeat 349 other tribes in a free for all fight.
As Alwan Hassan, a Fulani has truly espoused – the Igbo were massacred in the past. However, I do not hold TY responsible for that: all Nigerians were involved. Moreover, Ironsi as Commander-in-Chief had all the resources to stop his death, but chose to go the way of Jesus – made himself a lamb taken to the slaughter. He refused all precautions from Ojukwu and key Igbo officers.
Finally Funke, I want to say that if I had any lack of love for TY because of the past and my place as an Igbo man, it has been completely erased. His speaking out the truth as a real infantry soldier has made me to love him above my own brothers. If TY ever committed any sin in the past, it is not only forgiven, it is also forgotten. I mean this with all the love of God in my heart. It is also a warning to any tribe in any move to fight, kill innocent Nigerians in whatever guise – be it religion, Jihad, ethnic cleansing or whatever. PMB sir, wake up or bow out! Nigerians defend your country by voting out wicked leaders.
–Col RN Oputa Rtd. Consultant Endocrinologist/Fulbright Scholar/Lecturer. Owerri Imo State.