Dear Nigerian Politician…
That the weather has changed doesn’t make the leopards spotless. There are things that time doesn’t easily change, and Nigeria is one perfect example: this country has evolved only chronologically, “devolved” is the best adjective that summarises its politics. Gone are those days that our politicians, despite their failings, represent “isms” – ideology, purpose. Gone are those days that a politician in power can go on an evening walk, unaccompanied by a retinue of armed men, without being lynched. Politicians in those days were confident because their followers were not imaginary as found among today’s delusional clowns whose contact with their ‘people’ is through the screen of their gadgets or pages of newspapers. Their popularity was earned, genuine and their notoriety not imaginary.
Like any Nigerian who panders to commonsense, I was not shocked by the outcomes of the (inconclusive) Anambra Election. First, as declared in my last column, our system is predictable, flawed – predictably flawed. And from whoever is engaged to see to the operation of an institution here, predictable failure is expected. The Independent National Electoral Commission betrayed the people of Anambra State because it’s a way of our life. Secondly, the Internet-centred campaigns to seek for the validations and supports of a people whose majority has no access to the Internet is a loud preparation for a popular defeat, and I’m sure that this teaches you the need to learn from the past, to build a structure for whatever political platforms and manifestos you seek to promote.
Don’t, for the sake of your popularity on social networking sites, assume that you have been accepted by your people. Trust me, the social media demographics are not only electorally useless, they are often your worst deceptions because the Internet is simply a space for cheap or ineffectual intellectual and political masturbation. Trust me when I say that crying wolf over foreseen “rigging” is needless, because the people who actually vote don’t even know you (in person), neither are they aware of your peculiarities as they don’t even have access to the internet… The jokers who ping and tweet “supports” at you will rather remain in their rooms where the life of their battery-draining devices is safe than going out to queue under our air-conditioner-defying sun!
Go out there and meet the actual people: the okada riders, cabbies, market women, hawkers, grocers, senior citizens and even drug abusing youth and destitute beggars to give them reasons they must vote for you, and how you hope to redeem their “stomach infrastructure”. This is not America!
The Internet has been essential, no doubt. From being a platform for the convergence of the elite, the Internet is now being relied on for mass actions among patriots of a troubled country. We witnessed the impacts of the internet during OccupyNigeria protests last year over removal of fuel subsidy; I was a key participant, a co-organiser you may say, one who created a Facebook page that became the e-meeting point of Occupy Nigeria, one whose station, Minna, became the worst hit of all the cities hijacked by protesters… So I know the power of the internet, as much as I acknowledge its limit in this third world politics.
As a politician, my good sir, you’re expected to establish a relationship with the people and not just your constant masturbation in cyberspace, strutting to present yourself as an advocate of a place where you may not even win a councillorship election. Opposition is an ever-growing process of propounding profound political ideologies and formidable movements. You lost an election to a smarter rigger whose party has stronger rigging framework, and by this I mean contact with the gullible masses, but you declared that your clout is too strong for this. You have been scammed by your virtual supporters, many of whom are just inferiority complex-stricken youth merely seeking your attention or “retweet” to run into the market screaming, “Senator X likes my opinion…”, “Honourable Y retweets my words…” You see, while these people would protect you from trolls, they will never bring you votes!
My aunt, God bless that bully, had me depressed the other day, but I didn’t let her know that. I was journeying with her, doing what she would mischievously tell me was “160km/hr!”, but conscious of my mood – we had had one of our usual spats before we embarked on that trip – she employed a very amusing but effective trick by rolling out, in a much genial manner, names of relatives and familiar people killed by Nigerian roads.
“Are you afraid of me?” I said.
“Are you high on something?”
“You don’t have to stress yourself this much, you know. What’s hard in saying: ‘Gimba, slow down, you’re overspeeding!’? Or you think I’m too dumb to get the inspiration for your boring tribute to accident victims?”
“Haah!” She heckled, “This is where our generation is better than yours. I was trying to say you’re overspeeding, but the best way to correct a wrong is by being polite. Diplomacy, my son! You have a lot to learn from our generation.”
“You mean the same politeness your generation put on and watched the politicians and soldiers ruin the country? The only thing your generation gave us is a dysfunctional country!”
She burst into laughter and then, from her reserve of mischief, she hurled: “So your generation is trying to fix the mess on the internet? At least I can name many people who fought the authorities in our days. Your children will really have a good laugh!”
This intergenerational spat correctly exposes you, exposes that we are not of the generation whose elite were busy propounding political ideologies – Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and his Zikism, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his Awoism, and Mallam Aminu Kano and the Talakawa Rising… Even where they polarised electorates, those who supported them did so under the spell of definable politicking. They were not politicians just looking for an opportunity to ‘disrespect’ an authority just to get arrested and to hit newspaper headlines. They propounded profound political ideologies, built formidable movements while yours is to always snore over your iPhones and iPads waiting for an occasion to tweet that the President smokes wee-wee. May God save us from us!
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