PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU
Fellow Nigerians, let me say without any equivocation, or fear of contradiction, that these are perilous times in our great country. Sadly, and unfortunately, Nigerian politicians don’t seem to have eyes to see, nose to smell, ears to listen and mouths to say the right things, in the midst of the monumental calamities staring us in the faces. It seems that they have all buried their head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.
One would have expected our politicians to learn some didactic lessons from our contemporary history but, hell, no! Nigerian political leaders are too self-conceited, egocentric and definitely incapable of being sober no matter how dastardly, dangerous or grim our situation gets.
A few examples should suffice. One of the reasons Major General Muhammadu Buhari was elected and supported by many of us, ab initio, was because of the hoopla and hullabaloo of the breakdown of Law and order in several parts of the country. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the devastating abduction of the Chibok School girls in Borno State, which drew worldwide attention, condemnation and reprobation. This singular incident probably sent the government of President Goodluck Jonathan packing.
No government could have survived the plethora of attacks that came flying from every direction. And Buhari profited from Jonathan’s abject failure to deal with what had become a real menace to the people. Seven years after, the situation is far worse and pathetic, but our politicians, most of whom have crossed from PDP into APC for selfish personal reasons rather than principle, are still carrying on gaily and blithely as if every day is Christmas.
I watch the parents of the latest abductees in the seemingly intractable Kaduna fiasco on regular basis and my heart bleeds every time. It would appear that our Federal and State governments have abdicated their responsibilities and, as the saying goes, it is now a case of everyone is for himself, while only God is for us all. The pain, the anguish, the gnashing of teeth cannot be described, imagined or contemplated. He who feels it knows it. And worse still, there is no sign of sympathy and empathy on the side of our political leaders. Any demonstration of concern is one laced with selfish motivations, a chance for photo opportunities and pre-politicking.
There are no daily briefings and updates of the government’s efforts to bring sanity to the polity, and security and succour to those sorrowfully but courageously and resolutely bearing the assault of these bandits and criminals, like you would have seen in saner climes. No President to address the nation in times of grief and despair. If we excuse Buhari’s famed but notorious taciturnity, what of other high-ranking members of his cabinet? Perhaps this is the case because there is really nothing to report but losses and casualties in the field which would make for even more depressing news.
To be fair to this present administration, my reliable sources claim that the battle is being won in certain areas, although this is admittedly limited. Any type of victory would bring good cheer to the people, but we have an insensitive government that does not know how to manage and control publicity and public relations. Indeed, our President is still ensconced within the gilded cage of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, and remains as rarefied and tongue-tied as ever, far removed from the madding crowd.
Our political leaders are too myopic to see the dangers, landmines, and boobytraps ahead. It is reasonably obvious to discerning minds that someone is already setting up Nigeria for a cataclysmic fall and a fatal collapse. But the dog that must get lost will never hear the hunter’s whistle. The tell-tale signs are dangling over our nation like the sword of Damocles. We’ve passed this way and route in the past and we should already be familiar with its undulating landscapes, but we appear to be in a state of noctambulation and are sleepwalking our way to perdition because of our selective amnesia and somnambulism.
A situation where an ill-assorted bunch of cold-blooded politicians are assembling to seek Presidential power next year should be a signal which portends the dangers ahead of us and should send a submarine signal to us that something odoriferous is about to hit the fan and the roof. These politicians have nothing else to tout about their lengthy sojourn on the Nigerian political stage beyond the period of time that they have been in politics. Ask them to mention their achievements and they will stutter and stumble because in truth they have nothing of real significance to show for the time that they have spent in leaderships position in our country.
When our leaders start telling you that their success stories include being the head or part of an administration that has failed spectacularly and woefully, then you realise that they are either insulting your intelligence or they believe that you have taken leave of your senses. I am not sure which is worse. What it means is that we ourselves must appraise ourselves particularly if we are taken in or fooled by such rhetoric. I am amazed that highly educated personages would succumb and submit to such drivel simply because they want the trappings and paraphernalia of power so much. It is certainly not for the good of the country that they will adopt such an unprincipled stance, or they may be suffering from a sense of invincibility arising from the delusion of grandeur.
The way and manner in which leaders of the APC are now coming out of the woodwork to declare that they are Presidential aspirants, and their impunity and flagrant breach of extant laws suggest to me that these people already feel that they are above the law and can do and undo. Or someone somewhere somehow is setting them up for sinister purposes.
If I’m not sure of anything, I am becoming certain that the APC is up to something that may be too hot even for it to handle. How can so many Ministers, political appointees and even a serving Governor of the Central Bank, sit pretty in their offices and continue to play politics without any fear of consequences and repercussions!!! We all know what it costs to run Presidential campaigns even as mere aspirants in Nigeria. Therefore, the monies meant for our collective development is now to be squandered on politics by persons to whom we have entrusted our wealth and welfare. And a government that raced to power on the crest and fame of anti-corruption, in its twilight days, will now watch helplessly as politicians desecrate whatever is left of our country.
Where then do we go from here? Everywhere I have been in recent times, everyone seems to have given up on Nigeria. Foreigners who worked in our country and still have some faith remaining are barely breathing. Most people are hinging their hopes on miracles. This is how low we’ve sunk. According to one theory, as President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to retire next year, if that’s the plan, since no one is certain anymore, every one of his acolytes expects to inherit whatever legacy he’s able to bequeath to the next generation. And they proclaim this to high heavens. The only problem is that the legacy, at present, is one which comprises wholly of negatives. Corruption, insecurity, economic malaise, ethnicity, religious intolerance, lowest education standards, infrastructure deficit, criminality, in short a catalogue of unrelenting and unremitting woes. Enough of APC for now.
In our own party, PDP, the situation is getting combustive. The principal gladiators, in about four or more groups, are determined to go all the way to cancel out one another, while the Party members who have become spectators are watching with bated breathes. The first group is the Atiku Abubakar Group. Their determination, which others call desperation, is based on the age of the leader whose age is nearer 80 than 70. He’s been contesting for three decades. His first known foray was in 1993 when he attempted to vie on the platform of SDP. He and his team understand that this is his last chance. Let me predict that no soul can persuade him not to run in 2023.
The second group is that of some Northern aspirants led by former Governor and immediate past President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who ostensibly remains the spokesman and Public Relations officer of the two serving Governors, Aminu Tambuwal and Bala Mohammed, and former Banker and businessman, Alhaji Mohammed Hayatu-deen. The quartets are ostensibly pushing for a consensus candidate in the Party but those close to them believe none of them is actually willing to step down for the other even within their own group. Otherwise, they shouldn’t have all obtained the nomination forms.
The third group is the pro-zoning group led by PDP’s most influential Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who seems absolutely determined to have the Party ticket zoned to the South and, apparently, automatically to himself. How the Party handles this group of Wike and company may be the biggest challenge and test of conflict resolution by our Party.
The fourth block is the pro-Igbo group that unapologetically believes power must shift to the South East. This sentiment has gained momentum in recent times, but keen observers are watching to see how soon the Igbo powerbrokers can produce a consensus candidate to make their case stronger. This would be very interesting to watch. On my part, I believe that where our President comes from should be the least important, quality should be the priority that the Party and Nigerians should be asked to consider. The nature and substance of the candidate is the most important. If we get it right on this occasion such matters as religious and tribal affiliations will begin to lose importance and evaporate and will quickly transform into the 21st century power that Nigeria should be and is destined to be.
The fifth group would be that of the relatively fresh aspirants including Dele Momodu, Peter Obi (who shares my kind of worldview about personal accomplishments and capacity) and the great business titan, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, who seem ready to contest no matter the final decision of the Party which, is most likely to throw the race open in order not to seem that the Party has been compromised by any of the blocks. That can be the only explanation for everybody being allowed to purchase nominations forms at exorbitant cost. This group believes that merit, freshness, not being tainted with all the negativity associated with our present leaders and cosmopolitan outlook and exposure are factors that the Party should look for in deciding its flagbearer.
The last group believes politicians cannot continue to hold the Parties and Nigeria to ransom. The hard-core politicians are only interested in power than in tackling the challenges of nation-building. The two mainstream political Parties will ultimately realise that only technocrats and self-made men and women can ignite the much-needed passion in the electorate and galvanise new voters to go out to vote. Any Party that relies heavily on Party members only for its success may have itself to blame…
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