Last year, I published an article titled – ‘2003: A SEASON OF ANARCHY’ because I was convinced our politics is full of hate; incompetents and desperadoes, whose primary purpose was the exercise of power for its sake and acquisition of wealth from both the political process and the Nigerian Treasury.
Now that the year is upon us and we are set to elect new leaders for another term; the last three and a half years have proven that our politics is a matter of life and death. This political dispensation is full of a chimera of mendacious recherché politicians that are not better than the military who once governed us. And, why would I make a comparison between the military and democrats? I do, only because these so called democrats like the military want to retain power at all cost.
The coups hatched by the late Lt Col Dimka and other repines before and after him, preponderate political killings of opponents than the essence for peace in our nation. In a democratic space, it ought not to be so. It is understandable that soldiers are trained to kill to accomplish their missions. But, how do we explain what these politicians and their supporters are doing? The military does not engage in debates, the whims of the Commander-in-Chief win the day. In a society like ours where there are diverse interests, we prefer to negotiate and grant necessary allowances. That is not different in other democratic dispensations.
Accordingly, the political negotiations juxtapose varied settlements in order that we can survive as a people. However, it is arguable that the term ‘peace’ is relative to those who wield power and such aspirants seeking the same. Perhaps, if you ask Mohammed Lawal, the Governor of Kwara State, if he considers his governance as peaceful, he may well claim so. But, the Sarakis may not quite agree with him. The same is true for many other States of the Federation. The point herein is the argument for peace is used to annihilate opponents. Thereby, creating an inexorable doom for the democracy that each camp pretends to protect. If public service as is practised in developed nations is the primary reason for elections, I am nonplussed as to the need to kill and maim.
The wave of assassinations do not depict any pattern save for settlements of scores and a determination to sustain a status quo or even a progressive descent into a quagmire. From Bola Ige to Marshall Harry; Chief Ogbonnaya Uche alias OGB to Hon. Odunayo Olagbaju; the failure to hack down Bukola Saraki and Akin Osuntokun; the possible wolf cry of Gani Fawehinmi to the ‘insecurity’ of Mohammadu Buhari are examples of attempts to destabilise politics. It is the impress of a signature, which is as frightening as is destructive that is troubling and there are no indications that the pattern is not already indelible in the system. I can see no hope that these killings will abate. This is the reason for expecting another political giant to fall. We must ask the poignant question. How did we descend to this abyss, where our politicians are intolerant of each other and would not allow a superior argument or candidate to win? I am not best to answer this poser. That is why I shall attempt an argument at its periphery.
Arguably, democracy is not new to us, but it is still in its infancy because of previous military incursions. Therefore, it cannot be the reason for these killings. Politicking underlies democracy and it is a continuum in daily living. If that is acceptable, then it is not our democracy that is at fault and it cannot be the lack of cohesion in the union called Nigeria. I believe that there is a fundamental impropriety in party political selection of candidates that reflect our common will. The unpardonable solecism is steeped in the soi-disant leaders and elders of political parties. How else could the problems in Lagos State between Bola Tinubu and Ganiyu Dawodu be explained? Whilst, it was reported that Tinubu accuses the Afenifere Elders, they are reported to have made certain allowances between the two factions. The problem in the State, between the same Governor and his previous Deputy, Madam Kofo had a stamp of the same Elders’ incoherent stance on that problem. Should the so-called ‘agreements’ be made with the Elders or the Electorate? The construct that factored a place for these Elders is destroying our politics.
In as much as I accept that it is conceivable for them to play a role in political ordinations, I regret that placating ones who have benefited from political largess from a serving politician or an aspiring one subverts such an axiom. Where a party elder is ‘settled’, truth interchanges for expediency and rancour follows speedily. How could a faction that gratified these elders not expect their support? After all, there is no free trading in politics. What they have forgotten is the politics of the first republic, which premised on the abilities of candidates in the struggle for freedom. Generally, the ability to make money by any means was not a pre-requisite at that time but now, it seems that is what matters. This is probably the reason for the Saudana of Sokoto regretting the hijack of our politics by moneybags.
At the struggle for independence, the part played by the leaders of yesteryears set each apart to take over the reins of nation building. Then, leadership in politics was not about how much money an aspirant could pay for his imposition on a constituency. What mattered was a history of excellence. Politically, a lot has changed since then. A ridiculous example is the cross carpeting of Governor Mbadinuju of Anambra State to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Party. Is this not the same governor that strived a great deal only a few days ago to retain his PDP gubernatorial ticket? This is a man that not too long ago demonstrated through his desperation that he was championing the cause of a different party and now, his ideals all of a sudden are different enough to find solace in AD. Why would the party candidate not feel done by? Is this not one of the variable that lead to political killings? This is no politics. It is political promiscuity and the decadence and rot should be blamed on the Afenifere Elders.
The grant of AD ticket to Mbadinuju is a double speak, which erodes moral authority of the Elders. We must not allow this to happen. Mbadinuju should not be in AD politics. He should retire from active politics and await the appropriate time to seek absolution from his people. This has nothing to do with his Igbo origin. It has a lot to do with his politics, which is intertwined with the abhorrence in this dispensation.
The issues herein, if they bear repeating are the settlement culture that allows for moneybags to desecrate the political party Elders and their questionable place in a political climate where there is no respect for human life. Is there any hope that we can bring about a bouleversement, which gulps the Eldership of our political parties and their sponsored candidates? Candidly, Abraham Adesanya, Adeniwun Ajayi or Olu Adebanjo are unlikely contenders for political appointments, their incursions in politics and I do not necessary submit that they are leaders that have been settled at one time or the other, are unhelpful.
The current exigencies require direct dialogues between aspiring politicians and the electorate. Where there are disagreements, the courts should be the arbiters, not these unelected Elders whose unenforceable pronouncements and interventions fuel discord.
As these political killings eliminate one politician after another, the demise of our politics is gradual in its stealth. Families and Associates of politicians may not mourn the last political killing because the victim may well be our democracy. Was it not Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe, former Nigerian Chief of General Staff who intimated that threat to national security as defined at Defence College, also includes indigenous ones? By inference, the current political killings may be considered a threat to national security, which is beyond civil authority. I question that hypothesis because the police ought to be equipped to deal with such threats.
Nonetheless, Akhigbe, whose company I have shared as a friend of my brother, Commander Tunji Alabi (rtd) is a cautious man who uses words carefully. When he reminds the electorate of military definitions and philosophy, I am nervous. This does not imply that he knows of machinations afoot; it can be termed as a condemnation of our present politics and he is right. Without doubt many people share his view. At this stage, it can only be hoped that the commitment of our military is guaranteed as their service chiefs proclaim.
In closing, there is a desire for our democracy to be sustained beyond the current situation. How can that be achieved? The political leadership in our country must change the tempo of grass root politics at our Local Governments. It is imperative for the system to reverse the current type of politics, in which aspiring politicians rely on their party elders to advance their careers. The aspirants must learn to engage the electorate that they seek to represent before they are allowed on to national politics. If we fail to attend these matters, the next politician to die, would only set us closer to an inevitable doom.