If there is a cautionary tale in Nigerian politics, it is in the tension between the politician and voter. Both schemers, their hostility echoes the proverbial race between the fox and tortoise. The fox, for all its brawn and trickery meets his match in the tortoise, whose cunning eventually wins the race. Thus goes the ethically-correct narrative.
The fable, however, dissembles in the Nigerian wild. Ultimately, it manifests in reverse: picture the politician as the fox, the electorate as the tortoise, and the political arena as the wild. The fox beats the tortoise silly thus winning the race time and again.
At the forthcoming general elections, the foxes will carry the day. It’s a given. The race has always been rigged in the interest of the foxes.
Thus this year as all others, Nigeria reels at the borderline between republic and empire.
The voters’ bent, however, will determine if the country would re-emerge as a republic of free people, from the 2019 elections. At the moment, the indices are clear, and all the aspects manifest to reinforce the actuality of the country as an oligarchic empire.
The oligarchy that corrupted Nigeria’s politics, has been on song and its manipulative best en route the 2019 elections. The most affluent of the coven assign public offices by whim and lottery thus affirming the grim unreality of the electoral process.
These formidable oligarchs, in a bid to perpetuate themselves in power, assign national tracts and public offices to their children, quoting phantom egalitarianism.
To their stooges, they equally assign power, contracts and public offices with cautious benevolence and a disdainful smile.
They expect their child and protégé to enter the power elite, infinitely beholden to them, often through a rigged process. Of course, the recipients of such tarnished benevolence accept to play ball.
On assumption of office, they attempt a perfect interpretation of the script handed out to them, in a political high drama, in which they play deity and minion for applause, as the circumstances dictate.
They will scorn the poesies of democracy, likewise the humaneness and progress they hitherto promised the electorate en route the polls.
They will embrace moral nihilism and so doing, perpetuate a radical evil, sustainable by what Hedges calls the collaboration of a timid, confused electorate, a system of propaganda and mass media that offers strictly spectacle and amusement in lieu of news, and an educational system incapable of transmitting transcendent values and nurturing the capacity for individual conscience.
Having ignored the societal play of forces operating beneath current political platforms, Nigeria and her people will once again, bear the curse of pitiless forms of governance through all tiers of government.
Dissent would be outlawed and deemed inconsequential; and the shrill, occasional cries of the few who dare to protest, will resonate, like the spatter of spilt milk on sand dunes.
Silence would be appreciated while duplicity gets celebrated across social strata, fragmented families, public and private institutions.
It doesn’t matter who wins the election, the political complex, established and presided over by the oligarchy, will subsist but the electorate would remain compliant and endure the bestial system foisted on them, often turning impatiently, to seek a cosy place within its crannies.
The prospective ruling class, like its predecessors, will set out to diminish the individual, and crush his or her capacity for moral choice, thus ushering him into a seemingly harmonious collective.
This warped realism, has previously manifested through spells of bad governance and tokenism inflicted on long-suffering communities and states across the country.
Each human fragment of the electorate knows what issues and inadequacies require urgent resolution but most would rather keep mute no matter their afflictions.
The persistent lack of electricity supply, bad roads, substandard health care, insecurity, unfavourable business clime and an economy rigged in the interest of thievish bank chiefs, giant corporate thieves and political class, remain the bane of Nigeria’s micro and macro development since independence.
Nonetheless the victors at the 2019 polls will maintain the status quo. Like previous governments, they will muster life-boat solutions as responses to the country’s towering adversities.
Of the 36 state governors that would emerge from the forthcoming elections, for instance, a paltry five would preside fairly and manage the resources of their states judiciously. The remaining 31, would loot their states’ coffers to purchase outrageously priced tracts in Banana Island, and exclusive neighbourhoods abroad. They will connive with bank chiefs to pilfer their states’ treasuries and divert money meant to build schools, hospitals, and rehabilitate crucial infrastructure into their concubines’ and private accounts at home and abroad.
Resistance to such maladies will be impossible because the electorate lacks the knowledge and introspection required to articulate and weaponise dissent at ballot time.
Schools and religious houses won’t impart such enlightenment because the pedagogical and ascetic structures, that, should facilitate such awareness have collapsed around specialisations and prophesies designed to maintain the status quo.
However, frantic idealists and erratic pundits will ornament politics and the media space, as they do en route the elections, with unrealistic fantasies of progress via monetised columns, television and internet soapboxes.
Call them journalists, if you like. In truth, they are out to further confuse an already confounded electorate, and so doing, persuade all to reason and speak as a harmonious herd.
The actual controllers of the herd, however, are the political, business class in the shades: those who own and control the press. The press is relegated to the lower rung, where it plays herdsman, driving the citizenry, like cattle, through thickets of sentiments and outrageous bigotries, on to their principals’ chosen paths.
Thus Nigeria will emerge from the polls, to trudge and dissemble in familiar hardship and chaos, because the press has lost its ethical, rhetorical rhythm. This can be rectified, however.
- To be continued…
Author: Olatunji Ololade