Politics is usually a very interesting game to watch how it’s played on the mentality of human beings which is usually twisted, shaped and in some cases abused and tossed like a cricket ball on a rough pitch. The players are usually trained or experienced in releasing out deceit and dishing out sweet promises that can walk a corpse.
The 2023 elections have already incited the Nigerian cult of infantilism. It accentuates disparate voter divides, our fear of growing up, and inclination to soak in the river of misbehavior.
Public discourse segues to ranting and rascality, en route to the polls— online and offline—thus validating Marc Cooper’s pungent portrayal of the television marinated society, in which the boundaries between, childhood and adulthood blur, and completely get erased, in the glitz of pseudo realities.
The Nigerian political arena extends beyond the political parties, to the platforms of public discourse and channels of communication, especially social media, where children and adults, trade tantrums, and hurl juvenile rant and rage in protest against everything Nigerian.
The political landscape has deteriorated on the watch of predatory oligarchs, no doubt with the latter displaying to date, willful incompetence and inexplicable disdain for the electorate. The citizenry, in time, develop deep rooted loathing for their pretensions, cold heartedness and abuse of authority.
The next few months, however, it may offer the electorate yet another opportunity to stand on the bight of history and salvage or waste opportunities for the expected genuine change anchored on sincerity of purpose and concern to a better Nigeria not the kind of change we are about exiting with inflicted injuries. In the change of our hope, we have tested political warriors the likes of Bauchi State Governor, Sen. Bala Muhammed who within three years printed his name in gold and on the sands of time as a leader and a politician of repute. He displayed prowess and dexterity in service delivery to his people.
For the umpteenth time, Nigerians have fielded contenders on party platforms, some of whom may be out to excite the electorate’s frantic hopes simply to dash them. Like a changeling of fickle principles, passion and integrity are changeful in their wake.
The electorate must make its way past the fraud and extortion of these amateur politicians and younger aspirants, who are out to lure the psyche into committing political capital (that is, electoral votes) to unsound judgment and investments.
But to achieve this, the Nigerian voter must learn to discern the likely messiah from false patriots and conmen. It’s about time we exercised tact and meticulousness, in casting our vote at the 2023 general elections.
I ask that we be wary of everybody especially those standing against the re-election of a tested leader, Governor Bala Muhammed that are busy shortchanging other needy Nigerians to fund the campaigns of their stooge masquerading as a gubernatorial candidate. I ask that we watch out for certain questions which we will frequently hear and certain apologies that may resound as philosophical queries or rhetoric. They are in truth, psychological confessions and expositions of the treachery and chaos constituted by opposition preferred candidates and their apologists.
If we pay good mind to their politics, we just might find that every touted good by some candidates, masks a damming evil, like the extent to which altruism erodes a man’s capacity to grasp the concept of his rights, or the actual value of human life. And the extent to which his conscience and humaneness has been wiped out.
Let me urge that we be wary of the extremely platitudinous and patronizing candidate, who is desperate to serve in Bauchi State as the means to the end of others; such a character will ultimately regard others as disposable means to achieve a diabolical ambition, often at very expensive cost.
The more neurotic and ‘conscientious’ he gets in his practice of altruism, the more colorful schemes he devices “for the love of the collective good”, “for the love of the common man” or “posterity” and “leaders of tomorrow”.
Every effort of such a candidate will be geared at reinforcing all manners of sentiments and sound bites—he would claim to seek the fulfillment of “the people’s needs” except the actual needs of the electorate, like me and you.
Among other measures, shall we institutionalize debate as a platform for scrutinizing our candidates to separate the chaff from the grain? I moot a discussion where the crucial, dreaded questions get asked.
Let us wield it as a looking glass by which we view and analyze the politics, antecedents, and soul of each candidate. Let us not be deceived by their politics of unblemished altruism.
The advocates of such selflessness often promise automatic and wholly magical solutions to problems of poverty, security, sub-standard education, and healthcare to mention a few.
They promise success and survival to everyone but what they offer, ultimately are what Rand calls “life boat” solutions—- fleeting lifelines by which short term benefits are derived. Such a philosophy of governance conflicts with our social realities. It’s akin to applying ointment on a bullet wound.
Let us not be deceived by the promises of a sacked military officer and his appendages, a better tomorrow, modern and affordable housing, true democracy and fiscal prudence, qualitative education, and so on regurgitated by their preferred candidate.
Let us begin to ask, in Rand—speak, how they would pay for these things and at what cost to you and me? Let us make each candidate define his philosophy of social reform, welfare governance and the psychology of his noble experiments in the interest of our most basic necessities and his antecedents in public or private office.
The appalling recklessness by which some candidates proposes, justify and projects “government with a human face” may be discernible, measured, and disclaimed through the looking-glass of their antecedents in public office, well organized political debates, interviews, pseudo-events, and frank talk.
Who knows? We may discover, in the nick of time, that the hallmark of our preferred candidate’s disposition is the advocacy of some limitless, grand scale public goal or initiative without regard to context, cost, or the means of achieving it.
For such a goal or initiative to be desirable to all, it has to be made public and glamorized because the costs are not to be earned but to be expropriated, and a dense patch of venomous log has to enshroud such vital issues as the means of achieving it. This is because the means could be human lives like yours and mine; battered, bruised, browbeaten, easy to fleece.
Healthcare appropriately illustrates a modicum of the random candidate’s lifeboat ventures. “Isn’t it desirable that other governments subsidies treatment of compatriots living with deadly diseases as Governor Bala did?” clamors an average citizen. The preferable answer would be “Yes, it is desirable”.
It is at this point that both the mental and moral processes of a collectivized brain are wholly cut off. The rest is fog. Only the desire remains in sight of our “altruistic” candidate.
“It’s for the greater good. It’s hardly in my interest but in the interest of others. It’s for the public, a helpless, ailing public,” rants the familiar candidate. Consequently, the fog hides such facts as the embezzlement of public funds, unbridled looting of the public till, compromise and sacrifice of medical science, professional integrity, and the careers and happiness of those who are to administer such care, the nurses and medical doctors; and those who are to enjoy it, the patriots.
The examples of such projects are innumerable as daily, opposition favored candidates, whip up more slogans to bait and confuse us. Therefore, be wary of the candidate promising to clean up our slums while avoiding questions about what happens to the victims of such cleansing and those in the next income bracket.
Be wary of the candidate who seeks to “educate the shanty kid” while avoiding crucial issues such as the quality and welfare of staff to anchor such educational projects. What will be taught and what back up measures are to be adopted in the event that the initiative fails?
Be wary of the candidate who seeks that Bauchi State and Nigeria too gets to do the moonwalk and conquer space even as he avoids the crucial issues of government and private sector neglect. Nigeria’s white elephant space technology, and discrimination against the nation’s polytechnics and technical training colleges.
Be conscious of their unreality —-their blind, savage, ghastly fantasies that inspire them to prevaricate and if possible, avoid the usually unanswered and unanswerable question to all their “popular” and “altruistic” goals: “Who really gets to enjoy the benefits?”
As we move steady to the next general elections by INEC timetable, we should be more careful in casting our vote to the ray of candidates seeking our franchise. Some candidates are qualified or even over-qualified to be voted while some are mere opportunists desperately seeking for our votes to enslave and deny us the dividends accrued in the democracy.
Some have mustered the art of packaging and marketing their candidates with decorum and ease while others are still at the manufacturing stage not knowing what to do best to package and market their candidate as some prefer to package and market their candidates through mischief, threats and intimidation as Bauchi is witnessing from opposition. Whichever is the case, the choice is ours as a right. The pudding lies in the eating!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues