When evil men conspire, good men should combine
It must be noted that the inability of the ordinary people of Nigeria to alter their strategy in an essential way has continued to conduce to their all-pervasive sorry plight. The unrepentant smug indifference with which their oppressors hold them tends to attest to the feared hopelessness of their situation. What is required now or has been ignored before now is a general willingness to go against a minority that has been masquerading as the majority even as it is the citizen’s highest duty to defend his country, if need be, by force of arms. It is curious that poor people in Nigeria fall for the cheap symbolism of belonging to a dominant group instead of rallying with their fellow disadvantaged people to challenge the political class.
The events leading to or culminating in the outcome of the two major political parties’ extra-ordinary conventions for electing their presidential flag bearers have painted in bold relief the requirement to stem the tide of the gross abuse of the right of conscience. At the respective conventions that are uniquely symbolic for their indifference to the mandate of the people, delegates upturned the classic juristic admonition expressed in Latin as “Delegatus non potest delegare” as they traded their commission for a pot of pottage or as they unconscionable abjured the instruction of their principals. Whereas by definition, party delegates are to represent the interest of their constituents or their sponsors, the delegates to the special convention of the APC and the PDP have decided to render redundant the meaning or intendment of the idea or purpose of a delegate.
The parties’ presidential candidates have since emerged amidst serious concerns as to their suitability or appropriateness regarding the vaunted resolution of the Nigerian national question which resolution is reasoned to be beyond the ken of the respective flag bearers. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are generally considered unfit against the background of a general brooding concern for the fate of the Nigerian nation and of a feared analogue application to a digital or information technology super highway template. Much more poignantly, these men have had the opportunity to brandish their prowess in public office. However, to the discomfiture or perplexity of the general public, they have been alleged to have feathered their private nests whilst in office.
Abubakar as Vice President and as chairman of the National Council on Privatization has been alleged to have diverted critical national assets to the private benefit and enjoyment of his cronies and business associates. Tinubu, a 2-term governor of Lagos State, is openly touted as easily the richest or wealthiest politician in the Nigerian political firmament. The source of his inestimable abundance may however only be traced to his years in government and to his continuing stranglehold on the politics and economy of Lagos State. Among the people, there is a creative indignation that cannot rest. It has been calling for justice. But the Nigerian justice system has rendered many of the self-evident truths respecting public office holders’ infamy stillborn. And so, the untoward activities of public men have remained largely in the realm of conjectures or speculation.
It is often blandly noted that a twenty five per cent of honesty in public office is sufficient or is an acceptable average. There is in Nigeria, a seal of legitimation respecting below universal standard conduct of officers of state or even of their brazen misconduct.
The persistent efforts of the press and of civil society organisations to draw out malfeasant public officers regarding their restless fingers’ interference with the public till have generally not been productive. No thanks to a pliant, mischievous or sycophantic public affairs misconduct investigation machinery. The level of disenchantment with the status quo is thankfully throwing up new vistas.
The elite consensus to continue to run Nigeria the way it has been run or to completely run her aground is being visibly challenged. This new wave against desultory rule is epitomised in a new movement fortuitously led by Mr. Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State. For his level of attainment, the absence of a string of honorific titles to his name other than a Mister truly indicates the symbolism in the mission he leads. Expectedly, there is an on-going attempt to arrest the momentum of his movement by causing confusion in its camp. It is feared that somebody like Obi will take away the unearned privileges of the consensual ruling elite. He will stop the gravy train.
New, erstwhile apathetic or unconcerned, voters are emerging in large numbers and are feverishly registering to obtain their PVC. There number is threatening the comfortable win zones of the established mandarins. Because these ones are not the conventional footloose party goons, they may not be easily purchasable. Many of them are persons who are otherwise employable. Their enthusiasm to vote is at an all-time high. The structured party system is threatened to abandon or continue to depend on dubious or fallacious claims of existing structure.
As if to draw attention to the seriousness of the Obi blitzkrieg audacity, a ranking member of the ruling elite, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has alerted his complacent colleagues to the danger they face in taking the youth movement for granted. The battle for the soul of the nation no longer subsists within the consensual elite confines of the APC and the PDP. The challenge against them has the ability to obliterate their nuisance value and consign it to the dunghill of history. The young people are strategically combining even as the power elite are mischievously conspiring among themselves how to continue their stranglehold on the politics and economy of Nigeria or how to put the shine off this translucent rescue intervention of the now people into the affairs of a richly-endowed but vilely-managed socio-political entity. The all-time aphorism that when a people’s power is actuated, structures are bound to crumble is unfolding in its manifest truism in Nigeria.
All manners of accusation are being dug up and levelled against the person and character of Obi just to paint him in lurid colours. But his supporters, undaunted in their resolve, are saying they do not expect anything to the contrary. When Obi is accused of not being fair to the pre-existing members of the Labour Party of which he is a new entrant, his supporters explain that that accusation can be combated; when he is accused of not being a regular politician, they retort that it is bad belle and goes to no issue; but that it could be corrected. When he is charged with being a nominal Catholic, they pontifically decree that the charge stands annulled ab initio. But when he is accused of being stingy or parsimonious or contemptuous of charity and public purpose, it is dismissed off-handedly as baloney even as his good works are writ large and have been speaking for him in high and low places. There is no iota of truth in the parade of a malevolent or hostile attitude to desired change or public good.
It will not matter whether the Obi movement wins or loses the 2023 presidential election. And there is no reason why it cannot win if the election holds. The movement’s intrinsic purpose would have been achieved when its social and political consciousness efforts against can’t or empty hypocritical promises becomes popular or continues to cultivate the favour and support of the ordinary people.
Rotimi-John, a lawyer and public affairs commentator, wrote vide firstname.lastname@example.org