Pendulum by Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, before the general elections of last year, I thought I had seen enough of the shenanigans of those in power. Things got so bad that I simply gave up. I even vowed to stay on my lane and let the heavens fall on all of us, if it must. Any independent and impartial observer would have concluded that those elections would be neither free nor fair. Any objective Nigerian watching from the inside, and participating, would also have felt the same. Both major parties were guilty of denying the Nigerian people the fair elections they desired, but the major culprit in ensuring the elections were certainly not free was the ruling Party. What we therefore ultimately witnessed was not an election. It was a shambolic, reckless and irresponsible act of crass political brigandage.
The leading political parties prepared for all-out war and it just happened that the bigger rigger won using all the power, force and might of the military, police and security agencies which were absolutely at its beck and call and ready disposal. It was no surprise, given the way the whole farce of an election had been set up, that those who control the appurtenances of power sought to completely obliterate anyone who stood in their paths.
Notwithstanding the shoddy and shameful elections, I was ready to excuse the excesses of the government in the first four years with the hope that once the second term had been achieved, we would hopefully see a government with drive and purpose. I should have known better. A leopard does not change its spots. So, by now, over one year into the second term, it is disgraceful that the leading political parties are yet to settle seriously into the onerous business of governance and indeed, opposition. The opposition has obviously capitulated without as much as a whimper, and the hapless Nigerian citizens are left practically voiceless.
In the first four years of the APC government, it was easy to place all the blame for the failure of the past on the previous ruling party, PDP. No worries. However more than a year into the second coming of the government, the current ruling party has not performed any better. Some would say that it’s fared even worse especially when you consider the goodwill and sheer weight of expectations that trailed the government when it first attained power.
I’m sure those who know how to deceive every government in power would be telling our President that all is well. They would congratulate him on having been able to fix most of the intractable problems of the country and virtually call him the Messiah. It is almost impossible for the President of Nigeria not to be afflicted with the Messianic Complex given the hero worshipping and idolising that goes with the bootlicking that is prevalent and all-pervading amongst our political class. No matter what the praise singers cry and drum out, all is not well in the polity and in our country as I will demonstrate in a jiffy, before offering my suggestions, as always.
If after over five years, our country is still tottering, wobbling, and virtually on the brink of collapse, the President in particular, and our political gladiators, in general, must be told, without any atom of ambiguity, that Nigeria is haemorrhaging to death, at the speed of light. I will now lay out my reasons one by one.
The foundation of any government such as ours is supposed to be DEMOCRACY. Can anyone in good conscience say what we have today is close to that? The answer is capital NO. The foundation of Democracy itself is FREEDOM. Can anyone say Nigerians enjoy the freedom of thought, association, and choice in Nigeria today? The answer is NO. The foundation of freedom is TOLERANCE. Has this government tolerated the plurality of the different nationalities and religions that make up Nigeria? The answer is NO.
The foundation of tolerance is COMPASSION. Is this government compassionate towards the sufferings and cries of the generality of the people of Nigeria? The answer is NO. The unfolding crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which the government is clearly incapable of handling with any degree of competence is a clear example of a government that is unserious in the extreme. The people deserve much more than the grave injustice being done to them at the altar of expediency by people who do not know how to handle a simple dilemma not to talk of a major emergency or calamity.
The foundation of compassion is HUMILITY. Is our leader humble enough to appreciate the citizens and reach out to them directly, like he did, even if only to a limited extent, during political campaigns? The answer, unfortunately, again is NO. It seems the people have been used, abused, dumped, and discarded. Soldiers and civilians are dying like rats and they’ve become hidden statistics because the Government is neither brave nor bold to tell the public the truth. Either as a result of the war against criminal insurgency and banditry in the North East of the country or the nationwide catastrophe caused by the Corona Virus pandemic, lives are being wasted and people are falling like flies that have been sprayed with Shelltox. Even dogs and other pets enjoy obituaries and decent burials in some countries. Not anymore in Nigeria. Shallow graves and unceremonious body disposals as well as mass burials have become the order of the day, yet we are still being kept in the dark about these sad and unfortunate incidents.
Let’s now rewind and go back to the issue of Democracy. We are an extravagant lot. The variant of Democracy we chose is not what we can afford. We are operating an American Presidential system which thrives on political and corporate largesse when we have neither of these in our armoury. We are practising Capitalism without capital. We are wasting and frittering away our scarce resources on massaging human parasites called politicians instead of building our infrastructure deficit and servicing our desperate and unreasonable debts.
If I didn’t have the opportunity of visiting other African countries, I would have thought this is how they all squander their resources. But that is not the situation. Other African countries are more prudent even if there is some corruption in their administration. They certainly are not brazen in the manner in which they go about that sort of nefarious activity. In Nigeria, our politicians actually legitimize their looting by passing legislation to give effect to the grand larceny that they are performing under the nose of the forlorn and wretched citizenry. Our matter is now looking like a curse was cast on us by a spellbinder or sorcerer and the man has since thrown the padlock and its key into the Atlantic Ocean and there is no one to set us free.
Political systems, philosophy, and principles are sustained by ideology. Sadly, we have none because we’ve kept our country on the spot. We enthrone mediocres, the criminal elements or worse. Some say we are on autopilot and that is what is making us continue as a nation. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that we are radarless and rudderless. We have no direction. We are like a shipwrecked vessel on the high seas bobbing and drifting about from one direction to the other, simply surviving because no strong waves have yet come to overturn it and end the misery of the ill-fated souls of passenger and crew.
So, politicians can wake up in APC and go to bed in PDP and vice versa. Let’s leave PDP alone for now, they now appear to be more composed and comported than APC. Who would have thought that five years ago? The ruling party has become a monumental nuisance, disgrace and unmitigated disaster to our dear beloved country. Barely one year into second term, the APC apparatchik are already positioning themselves for the 2023 general elections. They have thrown caution and decorum to the winds. That’s the basis for the spate of unashamed and unabashed political fisticuffs and brawls ongoing in most parts of the country.
APC started its reign in 2015 with a bad omen. Instead of quickly putting its house in place and getting its acts together, they spent a total of four years pursuing and fighting some parts of the union of strange bedfellows that formed APC. They became so riotously cantankerous that people wondered if they thought they were still in opposition. It was so shocking that a Party that fought so much to attain power could not manage its victory and glory even for a day. The centre had been broken from the first day when they could not even agree on their Principal officers in the National Assembly.
As if it was not bad enough in the first term of this Presidency, the infighting in the seat of power in Abuja during this second term is atrociously unbelievable and abominable. There are factions in the President’s political and personal families, operating directly under his nose, and he appears to be helpless and hapless. What could be worse than being treated like a lame duck this early in your second term. I’m aware that, on paper, the President has been sold many laudable projects that could catapult Nigeria truly to the next level, but unspeakable stealing, perfidious conduct and an irrational war of attrition won’t let them ever achieve a meaningful part of them. How tragic.
The main cardinal reasons some of us fell for the Buhari Presidency were as follows. That PDP had overstayed its welcome in power and was speedily leading Nigeria towards Golgotha. Buhari was seen as the last Saint standing who would have the moral right to fight corruption to its marrow and rid us of this cankerworm. That Buhari was antisocial and would curb the excessive proclivity of our politicians for outlandish lifestyles. That Buhari as a retired military Major General would chase Boko Haram and other bandits to the pits of hell and our security challenges would be over. That Buhari would put all the monies saved from different sources to judicious use and good causes.
I leave you my readers to reach your personal conclusions on where we are with the expectation and hope. Mine is that our hopes were grossly misplaced and have been unfortunately dashed. I doubt if the NPN and its offspring PDP performed this woefully. Those who wish to bury their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich are truly welcome to do so. We are at a sorry pass and nothing seems to matter anymore.
My message to President Muhammadu Buhari is that this house built with spittle and dew is collapsing and only a miracle can sustain it any further. The current battle for the soul of the cash cow, called NDDC, is so grisly that this government may not recover from it in a while, if ever. And even worse is the unceremonious manner the former Acting EFCC Chairman was abducted in James Bond fashion in broad daylight and whisked off to the Presidential villa for a phantom investigation by jurists and personalities who should know from past experience that what goes around comes around, while other security agents were busy denying the obvious story.
I have no doubt that some people in government have picked on the wrong customer this time. This Ibrahim Magu has been on their wanted list for a long time. They should have muscled enough firepower to remove him during the screening. Once they missed that chance, they automatically turned him into a scorched snake. So, he already knew who his enemies were and has had ample time and resources to plan a rematch and plot the undoing of his traducers and adversaries. Again, they botched it by not finishing what they started very promptly.
I foresee torrents of salacious and scurrilous tales flying around sooner than later. The theatre of the absurd has already commenced in earnest. Fake and false news abound. Social media is agog and awash with moonlight tales of the good, the bad and the ugly. Trust me, it will get worse and uglier! The child who says his mother won’t have a good sleep must also stay awake all night. The genies and the worms are already crawling out of the Pandora boxes and cans. I see this house collapsing, like a pack of cards, like a straw hut blown away by the mere breath of the big bad wolf! Corruption is indeed fighting back, but from the inside, and against itself!
The spectators have ordered more popcorns…
– Momodu is a respected journalist and publisher of Ovation International magazine
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