Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Unclothing the realisms and myths of our politics

By Augustine Nwaka
23 February 2023   |   3:13 am
After the general elections in February and March, Nigeria would have come to a different kind of reality about her political configuration. We would have learnt that people are the real bridges to power. It will become evident that the path to becoming the president of Nigeria or governor of any state in our country…

INEC Ballot Box

After the general elections in February and March, Nigeria would have come to a different kind of reality about her political configuration. We would have learnt that people are the real bridges to power. It will become evident that the path to becoming the president of Nigeria or governor of any state in our country does not begin and end with electioneering.

The results of the elections will teach us, individually, a lesson in compassion, and redefine our politics permanently. Unlike the last six cycles, the build-up to the current one has had more zest and character. The elite class and the voting-for-the-first-time generation have added spice to the narrative, with generous doses of creativity that attest to our ingenuity as a people.

From the blast of the whistle by INEC, the social and mainstream media have become a theatre of entertainment. We wake up daily to entertaining content and comments, invented from real life scenarios, to ridicule opposition candidates. In one instance, the highly comical Senator Dino Melaye of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign, feigned falling on a campaign stage in mockery of the APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

There were also beautifully crafted tirades from the caustic ball-point of Chief Femi Fani-kayode, who recently decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC), to become the co-spokesperson of the Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu Presidential campaign, attacking the Atiku Abubakar camp. As always, out of Fani-Kayode’s pen flows a rich repertoire of, searing, stinging, spearing and scything words made into heavy artillery fire. The exchanges have created enough drama to keep our gaze fixed on newspapers and other platforms, where the battle rages.

As a mark of support for candidates of our preferences, we became one of ‘BATified’, ‘Atikulated’ or ‘Obidient’. The political natives that emerged from these groupings almost signalled that the presidential election is almost a three-horse race, but the consideration of political engineering should remind us of the numbers in the Kwankwasiyya movement. Although not forceful enough to make the former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso and presidential candidate of the NNPP, the president, but at its fullest, it may be adequate to make him third in the presidential race.

Without any equivocation, the next president of the Nigeria will come from any of the mentioned candidates. This is because they have the name, recognition and visibility that established their participation in the context. However, the door to Aso Rock would not be unlocked by the whirl of social media and rallies. Human beings are the path to Aso Rock. Therefore, genuine connection with the people is the key to Aso Rock.

There must be a solid political base, which must cut across the ethno-religious line, that will deliver bloc votes for any candidate to be president. And this would have been nurtured over a period of time, not just suddenly, because elections are an affective commitment parade. In our clime, eloquence and sharp suits are not indicators of capacity and ability to perform in a political office yet. In fact, a presidential election is a test of candidates’ relationship with tribes and religions outside their own faith, practices, or beliefs.

Let us see it this way. If you are an easterner who is interested in becoming the president of Nigeria, you may need to marry a westerner and settle your family in the north to establish the connections that will give you the needed national appeal.

Perhaps, if a candidate, who is a Muslim does not have a track record of attending church programmes or supporting Christianity, he or she will need a bridge that will take him into that fold and give him the image of acquiescence.

It is a tedious and serious work requiring commitment, more than money. It is an investment that takes a significant part of you. That is why people in certain age bracket may not become president of Nigeria at this time.

The journey to national acceptability and believability is very long. Understanding the socio-cultural diversity of Nigeria is a real factor in the choice of who becomes the president of the country. Until you have the reach, you may not know how to leverage the means because real human beings make voting decisions, not emojis.

Social media crowd can be really deceptive and misleading. What you have there is just a noisy swarm lacking in the commitment to help candidates actualise their dreams with their votes. Although the horde is very good in holding government accountable, but beyond recommendations, their involvement in real political actions – registering to vote, following to pick-up voter’s card and voting is condemnably low.

So, the power to make any Nigerian president is with the real people. Only the candidate, who has connected well enough with them will have access to that power, which is their votes. When a presidential candidate’s name is mentioned in any tribe outside his own, someone notable from the tribe where his name is mentioned must be able to say he or she has experienced him or her. It is a network of people and minds, agreeing to confer their identity on someone outside their culture to represent them.

Have you wondered why ex-military men have ruled Nigeria more than civilian politicians?

They usually would have gone around the country, seen the people and their cultures. The reach, which their service in the military gave them, contributed to their network. With that as foundation, the rhetoric of politics was deployed to make heroes of them, saying they fought for the unity of Nigeria.

For Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, it is different. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was a Customs Officer. He moved around by serving in the nation’s borders, but this may not be as much of a leverage for him as the ex-military men. However, his repeated presidential bid should be an asset to his aspiration, except for the drawback caused by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s publicly expressed opinion on his integrity.

Still, Atiku remains a major contender in the race to Aso Rock, but he is unlikely to unlock the doors of the Presidential Villa. He has lost the bid few times and this may not make his base see disappointing him as a big deal. Peter Obi has brought something distinct into Nigerian politics, and that is a mind-shift, but it is transitory. Most of his supporters are either ineligible to vote or enjoying the buzz. They are buried in debauchery, lacking the discipline to act pragmatically. The pain or sacrifice of going out to vote may be too much for them to make on the crucial day.

Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu will emerge the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, marginally defeating Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Mr. Peter Obi, with the amount of effort he is making will come third, but not with so much margin ahead of Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso.

The Tinubu presidential ambition started about 16 years ago. To keep this aspiration alive, he made several sacrifices and strategic interventions in keeping Nigeria together. He did not become a leader by just deploying resources, he raised men and build capacity in people. Arguably, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is Nigeria’s most followed politician.

His influence goes beyond his ethnic domain. Since the end of his tenure as Lagos State governor, he started serving Nigeria in unofficial capacities. From East to West, North to South, his generosity, humanity and presence are felt. He touches lives without considering tribe or religion. This season, he is the candidate with the widest social connection, best experience and most suitable outlook for Nigeria of today.
Nwaka wrote from Akwa, Anambra State.

In this article