A deep ambiguity lingers in the official character of our politicians. But this equivocalness is perhaps inherent in the very notion of chauvinist political culture. And it may just be, after all, that we have reached the climax or critical juncture of our national history when our character as Nigerians will be indefinable except in the content of double entrendre, viz: I am ambiguous, therefore, I am a Nigerian. Only those who appreciate how in the dialectical quicksand of history, natural blessings have all too often turned into national burdens, can understand the magnitude of the Nigerian condition. Even the ruling class’ claim to some decency in the conduct of public life has been abandoned, and moral decadence has become second nature.
Yet, anyone with even the slightest familiarity with the history of the country since independence must wonder, and worry, that today, almost fifty-seven years after, those who looted the national treasury into their private pockets, those who presided over the wrecking of our national economy, are walking our streets as free men and women and still wish to continue to dominate the political scene with impunity. Otherwise, why, for God’s sake must Gowon, Obasanjo, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida and Abdulsalami think that without them Nigeria cannot move forward? Why?
If these people who have had the privilege of ruling Nigeria as President and Heads of State respectively, should openly propagate a sectional interest, what makes them national statesmen? Where then shall we extrapolate the graph of our national trauma? To resolve the issue, we must interrogate a number of other ambiguities. The first unresolved question is apparently the definition of politics itself. If politics is undoubtedly the science of the equitable allocation of resources and it thrives on election which is the game of numbers, then we need to sit at a sovereign national conference to re-examine our collective understanding of these time-worn concepts.
But politics has a far deeper philosophical and intellectual imputation than we can imagine. Had our so-called statesmen and political pundits emerged out of a patriotic fervor, the first thing they should have concerned themselves with, would have been the plight of the ordinary Nigerian. What they have done rather is the looting of the national patrimony into their individual stores. Whereas the poor are languishing in abject poverty and gnashing of teeth, the rich are still fighting for more share of the national cake. In fact, there is none of these erstwhile rulers who does not own estates in at least four major cities in the world and yet Nigeria has been declared the one of the poorest nations in the world. Our national trajectories need to be questioned.
For instance, how peculiar is Nigeria? Can Nigeria run a vigorous economy and at the same time pay for grand national projects, inefficient state corporations and a generous welfare state when even its youths on national assignment are not adequately compensation? How stable is the polity and how pleasant are the tax payers? What is the level of Nigeria’s infrastructural development? What actually is the rate of unemployment? Above all, what is the literacy index of our country in the second decade of the 21st Century? How many of our politicians can ponder on the above puzzles rather than craving for narrow private interests? Who can understand our leaders’ metaphor and who will tame their hubris? When would these spent forces grow old and allow the youths to run the affairs of this country?
Here we are across the long trajectory of often violent political degeneration or rousing hegemonic slogans and strident war cries of republics and dictatorships and of presidents and eating Generals, the notion of politics has itself been oversimplified to include all sorts of jamborees and shameless after-dinner mentality. Nigeria has become a vast market of restless ethnic political banners and smoking guns. How then do we empty our politics of the sentimentality of tribal petty bourgeoisies and their uncritical incestuous self-congratulations over their stolen national wealth? Who can remind our politicians that it is necessary to recreate among the poor masses, the faith and enthusiasm that had been blunted by the interplay of interests, the race for privileges and disorganization of which our local tormentors had devoted themselves since 1966?
Had our politicians been conscious of their role as care-takers of the Nigerian project, they would have prevented the masses, in the past 18 years from becoming disaffected, indifferent and stagnant, remedied the skepticism that was slowly winning over the people as a result of their experience in the hands of Babaginda, Abacha, Obasanjo and now Buhari; in a word, to close off the road to despair and uncertainty that was the order of the day. But how can a group of political jobbers who promoted and carried out a widely but dubiously orchestrated propaganda aimed at justifying the planned monopolization of power by Babaginda on the floor of the national assembly, be seen to be doing otherwise? Our politicians were not in the least prepared to take responsibility for the leadership of the nation from the commandist clan. Consequently, they failed from the onset to define their basic and immediate tasks by analyzing the situation on the ground based on the rules of the strictest objectivity.
However, the virtue of the current political development in the country is that Nigerians now know the difference between the game and the gain politicians. It has also made us to differentiate between the national and tribal or ethnic statesmen. Our mission since 1960 has been a fruitless one, for it has led to no development in the political culture, to no unifying ideal for the nation and has generated no spark to kindle the fire of genuine progress and liberation. Almost fifty-seven years after flag independence, we are still a loose collection of ethnic enclaves. We can only boast of overabundance of hopelessness in the midst of hope and so much of political ineptitude in a world of growing political dexterity as though politics is a curse.
“It is incomprehensible that Jonathan who hails from South South that produces the oil sustaining Nigeria could not clean up Ogoni land polluted by oil. “
- Chief Fabian Okonkwo, South East Zonal Organising Secretary of APC