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Cometh the hour…


Members of the Nigerian Senate at a plenary. PHOTO: TWITTER/ NIGERIAN SENATE

Round and round we go: same carousel, different bells and whistles.

It is that propensity to perambulate that most debilitate us, speaking as it does to denial. Mindful though we are that our portal to renewal requires that we embrace disruption, before we are even set on that road, we look to blunt, diffuse and denude the prognosis. The new model is only available after you total the old one!

With its feet, Nigeria has persisted with elected dysfunction, making inevitable its vortex of degradation. It comes as no surprise thus that those that pretend to the role of our council of wise men (the Senate of the federal republic) bring little acuity and even less good counsel to the weighty matters before them.

It is not entirely their fault, however. In a distant past, some may have been capable of clearly articulated superior reasoning, sadly not anymore. They have been co-opted and compromised: To be habitué of our theatre of deception, one must first be fallen. Incongruent thinking is anathema in our body politic so it is incumbent upon us to hound those that put themselves forward as the guardians of our common wealth with as many inconvenient questions and truths as we can muster.

Our dysfunction persists however because it works to the good for the political class. Impeding and inhibiting real change is so prized it has become raison d’etre. While we delay and are delayed, the clock runs down and there is far less time than we imagine if we are to re-enact Nigeria, as we envision her and of our own volition.

Such re-enactment would be the considered path to follow but it has been an option not availed for so long that there is little reason to think we shall venture there now. On the other hand, there is the path of the catalytic disruptive, unexpected but logical. Both are consequential: the former by way of deduction and choice, the latter, made inexorable by our own hand.

To recede into yet another disentitled confabulation is Sisyphean, more diversion than resolution. Sure in the knowledge that the most worthy recommendations are destined for dusty disavowal, such gatherings pay lip service and cross the road, leaving dysfunction in place by reason of omission. We postpone the evil day and pray for divine intervention and a soft landing.

I cannot myself see how this current crop of politicians can be beaten into ploughshares, they are unwieldy stock and unequally yoked to the attainment of the Nigeria that this nation must become. The knob of the matter is sovereignty. If the present practitioners (allegedly elected representatives) are ill suited, how do we craft a way around them such that our desire and intent for betterment does not suffer exceedingly from their attentions? Divining such a pathway ought to engage us more.

What we required of change was a version of what Lagos State attempted in the first coming of Jagaban. We required a change in the form of a functional and functioning alliance of the political class and the professional classes, an alliance founded on the premise that the former could provide the necessary political cover to allow the latter do what had to be done on the governance front. Neither has matched up.

What we endure is a government beset by diversions, many of its own making. None of its Big Ideas have gained traction and the onset of electoral winds threatens to take the wind out of its sails. Those that serve at the president’s pleasure have singularly failed to act out their vaunted promise. And while the president is absent, his political doppelgangers though curtailed are not neutered, a reminder that incongruent thinking remains off the menu.

That role of shield and lightning rod was key to Lagos State’s technocrats being able to knuckle down. Sadly, PMB went off script pretty much straight away. Instead of blunting the edge of adversarial and internecine politic, and allowing the professionals get the job done, he started believing the electoral hype and was willingly led into the political arena where he would have been better served staying above it.

There will always be politics, no matter how highly idealised we become; and, politics is about winning power not winning arguments. If, only after the political kingdom is secured can more enlightened governance have its day, so be it. The professional and the politician as bedfellows is the least objectionable path open to us given where we are. What we commend is a place where the deployment of our worthiest persons and ideas are advanced, necessarily behind and alongside the veil of politics.

I would venture that some in the APC entered into their arrangements in this alliance in the misguided belief that a President Buhari could and would incarnate as a visionary leader of a happy band of technocrats. They hoped he had grown to a place where he could acknowledge his limitations and support himself with a government that would mitigate those limitations. And they hoped this not because the evidence led to such forlorn hope but because it was convenient. In the face of plentiful reasons not to romanticise the General cum politician, they persisted and our bedraggled nation is once again testament to opportunity spurned.

What the change government brought was General Buhari’s reputation for rectitude and very little else. I am only a little unkind. In truth, that reputation was the only value proposition the General could have brought to the table; the rest of his track record was altogether nebulous. His choice of running mate led optimists to once again grow misty eyed.

Professor Osinbajo was one of a couple of distinguished professionals Jagaban effectively deployed in Lagos at the turn of the century. He is an underling well yoked to his principal on the integrity quotient and also one able to conceptualise and execute. Even more importantly, he was correctly reckoned an Omo Oluabi and as such likely to be constrained by a prioritisation of reputational integrity. Not for him, a rallying point for the malcontents that would inevitably emerge from amongst colleagues and allies in the lifetime of an administration.

PMB was right. That is why he has no compunction about submitting himself to the attentions of his doctors in the United Kingdom for extended and necessary care, without fear of insurrection or treachery. For his part, the Acting President has been loyalty personified and will continue to be so. I would wager that some of his recent utterances are more his master’s voice than his own. That is part of the burden of a joint ticket, albeit from an administration that has given cabinet government short shrift.

It was always going to end in tears. The supposedly white horse the APC rode into town on was altogether too pristine, especially for a polity whose provenance is so eloquently epitomised by old hands on the tiller. The APC’s claim to be capable of being all things to all men was palpably false and reality checks have come thick and fast since it took possession of its poisoned chalice.

From the outset, Nigeria has had Daddy issues and the choices we’ve made or had foisted on us reaffirm our reluctance to take ownership of our angst. We discuss, dissect and discern but remain paralysed by fear of what the future may hold. As the next fork in our road looms, we can either choose the path of deductive reasoning or leave the choice of whether Nigeria to disruptive inexorability. A child that does not hear will feel!

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Nigerian Senate
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