One hazy morning in the autumn of 2009, I was in a public bus en route to Abeokuta from Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos. Upon getting to Otta axis of Ogun State, something struck me about a few posters hugging the major roads and bridges in the metropolis: the political tension building up in the state at the time, almost two clear years away from another election cycle.
And then there were some campaign messages by many obscure groups, promoting then opposition candidate Dipo Dina. Mr Dina, a brilliant accountant and candidate of the then rampaging Action Congress in the 2007 polls, was at the time largely considered the shoo-in among a few political watchers in the state. Ahead of the 2011 guber race, he also appeared in the best position to win the ticket of the re-branded Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Although he came a distant third in the 2007 race, his ACN had won a few governorship positions through election petition tribunals and, thus, was in a better position to wrestle power from the then ruling PDP. “DD for Governor 2011—-No shaking,” one of the posters adorning the bridges, read. “DD”, to be sure, was one of the urbane politician’s nicknames. This was late 2009, 15 clear months away from the general elections slated for 2011.
Sadly, weeks after, on the night of January 29, 2010, Mr Dina died. Although there were conflicting reports of his death, there were two dominant narratives: the one, by the Police, said he was killed by robbers; the other, by his associates, said he was assassinated. And it is a testament to our poor justice system that till today, the whole truth has not been established about Mr Dina’s death.
Now, one thing struck me about Mr Dina’s painful death at the time: the futility of human ambition. Here was a man considered the shoo-in in a major election by many political watchers, friends and associates (and perhaps including the man himself) who, quite sadly, would not live to witness the same election.
And although there were accounts showing that the late accountant was not the typical desperate politician, to my mind, Mr Dina’s painful death was thought-provoking. Interestingly, his was not an exception as there are many other cases that should serve as lessons on the futility of ambition (unbridled or otherwise): the case of Audu in Kogi, of Adeleke in Osun, of Mamman Ali in Yobe, among others.
And even if the circumstances surrounding their deaths were quite different, they all had one thing in common: they nursed different political ambitions in the autumn of their lives but did not live to occupy their desired seats. The case of Ali, an incumbent who was already campaigning for second term as early as in 2009, was quite poignant. Ditto Audu, who even won the election but did not live to be sworn in.
But the Nigerian politician barely reflects about life and its numerous shades of uncertainties; all he is concerned about is the narrow path leading to the fulfillment of his (often selfish) agenda. In his own cocooned space, he forgets that only the Almighty assigns power to whoever He wants, irrespective of man’s endless scheming and shenanigans.
It is within this context that one would perhaps situate the 2023 din that has engulfed the political space in the last few weeks, with its attendant needless buzz and razzmatazz. Sadly, it’s coming less than seven months after a major election!
The whole thing perhaps began with the emergence of a campaign poster promoting APC leader, Bola Tinubu’s loud but yet-to-be-announced 2023 presidential ambition in Lagos. That poster may have been designed by some overzealous supporters of the former Lagos governor, to be fair to Mr Tinubu.
But again, it speaks to the recklessness of the political class and their lack of tact especially when the discourse revolves round their (unbridled) ambition. More pathetic was the fact that until public criticism forced the orchestrators of the “campaign” to remove the posters, it was put out there and remained there even at the time a newly-elected government was yet to constitute a functional cabinet.
Oh, it may be erroneous to assume that the 2023 din began with the emergence of the Tinubu campaign poster. It perhaps began quite earlier; particularly with the events leading to the (s)election of the principal officers of the National Assembly and the back-end negotiations leading to the constitution of the “Next Level” cabinet. If we did not know much about the cabinets reshuffle, at least we saw the scheming that led to the emergence of the Senate President and Speaker of the House. 2023!
Then came Mr El-rufai’s Lagos remarks, wherein he gave his Lagos audience never-seen-before insights into how a “godfather” can be humbled in the state. It was no coincidence that at that very occasion, the questioner whose remarks fired up El-Rufai’s instinct has been at loggerheads with a certain “mentor-turned-godfather” in the state.
Then came the not-so-subtle campaign to demystify Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with his traducers throwing everything in their arsenal at the vice president. Before the ‘demystify Osinbajo’ campaign began, there had been “reports” that a replacement had been picked for Mr Buhari among the cabal members. In any case, it is quite good that the VP has volunteered to subject himself to scrutiny but the whole thing isn’t lost on us. 2023!
In the last week, media aides of some notable figures in the APC-led government have also provided insights into the bitter politics, rather than critical thinking for good governance, that is the pre-occupation of our newly elected persons.
The biggest sign was the controversial tweet by a young man said to be an aide to Governor Ganduje of Kano, describing Mr Osinbajo as “VP Academics”. There, also, was this subtle tension generated by Mrs Abike-Dabiri’s remarks about a tweet by presidential media aide Bashir Ahmad, said to be elevating Hausa-Fulani supremacy.
In all, the hand writing was clear on the wall: 2023! It’s as though a civil war is brewing.
Sadly, and most painfully, the 2023 scheming is going on when virtually nothing is happening on the governance front. Apart from the relatively good news of the constitution of the Economic Advisory team, Nigerians are literally being burdened with incessant imposition of one tax/levy or the other. “A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation,” remarked James Freeman. He perhaps had Nigeria in mind. Interestingly, very few Nigerians could indeed see the mess for what it is; the vision of many have been blurred by ethnic solidarity and partisan affiliation. Pathetic.
As a solution, however, SATIRE SATURDAY suggests that since we already know what our politicians prioritize, we could avert major disasters by conducting elections every year. For, if we allow them dance in the market square as they are wont to, they may throw the nation into a major crisis.
So rather than wait for another four years amidst this tension and threat of blackmail and lawsuit from every direction, why can’t we quickly bring this 2023 obsession to a peaceful end by conducting another election next February– ––and then another one the February after the next, and another after the next… ad nauseam, ad infinitum? Can we simply put in place a major constitutional reform that would criminalise governance (by making it a treasonable offence) and elevate bitter politics–––or, to be specific, yearly elections?