Dangerous Alliances By Aisha Yolah

Leadership is actually a difficult thing. Ask any serious head of state today and they will tell you it’s not a walk in a park. Ask any Arab head of state, or ex-supremo such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. No, it’s not about presidential dignities and seemliness but rather about the hopes, rights, dreams and sufferings of the millions you rule over.

Watching  the ever eloquent, pat and ready David Cameron struggling to make sense of the ‘mindless selfishness,’ the  ‘looting and laughing,’ that has set businesses ablaze in London neighbourhoods and many cities in the North of England, this week, should get some people thinking about these complexities. The Norwegians will tell you even with hard work, diligence and relative peace, human beings can still be unpredictable. That is why even here in lawless Cartelopia the expectation is that at least pretence at hard work is being made.

But even friendly pundits and commentators are expressing worries about our Prime Minister’s ‘intellectual capacity’ for leadership. The proverbial (tiresome) hit-the-ground-running has turned into a puzzling wavering. We in this column have another theory – that it is the many big and small fish that a rather opportunistic, but desperate Jonah netted over the past two years- that are causing the ship to list, dangerously. Dangerous alliances are what they are.

If the man had stuck with his first and most celebrated set of obvious supporters he might not be wondering how he got himself into his current labyrinth of unholy marriages. That first set included members of the State Executive Council and his now completely rubbished Premier Advisory Council. Even before he was formally sworn in, this group of ex-heads of state, retired generals and wise men was comprised of a plurality of elite, but widely respected interests. Here you even had some of the men who he very crudely decided to contest against for the leadership of the party. The initial caution by a powerful General Dan Theo to sit out this round of elections and wait for 2015 fell on deaf, power drunk ears. General Theo is now in the wilderness. He has been cut lose, in favour of another General who is really the architect of the enterprise called Cartelopia today. This General Oanto is considered a major threat to the real development of this country, yet he is our PM’s most stable ‘friend.’

The PM has made it a point to bring even the most corrupt and fearsome ‘wise men’ to his table, wishing them passionate happy birthdays and no doubt doing their bidding in return for all the incredible election winnings. It must be difficult to have to keep such friends along with all manner of unsavoury Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern juggernauts who have always had an insatiable thirst for power and illicit wealth.

Politics of necessity.

But what can one make of the surprising and disgraceful use of the country’s media? The fourth estate has always been problematic. Its understanding of ‘public’ interest has often been defined in terms of narrow, parochial interests. This time however it appears as though there was a wholesale buying of particular editors and publishers that is only now being fully comprehended. Early in the presidential campaign, a list of Jonah’s friends was circulated in our cyber forums. The man whose name was at the top of that list has now been rewarded with the position of the PM’s media man. The manner in which the former Media Adviser was so effortlessly discarded after serving his principal since his (the PM’s) days as a Governor was more than a little unseemly. The fact that it was done at all speaks volumes about the heights of the stakes that were played for in this expensive election campaign.

Then you have the big fish professionals who gave more clandestine and frankly sinister substance to the election campaign- the professional cheerleaders or ‘endorsers’ who morphed into all manner of Movements, and passionate voters. The Facebook thing was more transparent and innocuous compared to the rest of the huge machinery. Most notable was the Neighbourhood Campaign which pretended to have millions of door to door volunteers. To this day I have not come across any individual who was visited by these energetic young people. Unlucky us, perhaps. Some of the consultants and cyber warriors are still apparently on the pay roll of this Executive. Some are now ministers of aviation!

Most disconcerting was the wholesale support given by Cartelopia’s artistic community- the filmmaking society, the singers, and the musicians- a problematic 200 million cartelles fund for artistes is now the subject of a growing squabble.

And finally what about the usually progressive or apolitical intellectual and professional classes who found it so easy to sing high praises of a candidate they really hardly knew – your lawyers, now honorary advisers?

The overt and sustained campaign by the Churches and their Umbrella clerical body was an unprecedented addition to the character of the election and it has continued to leave its mark. As the PM’s own policies are criticised out of hand to the point of calling for the national chaos, it is irrational but true that he has refused to lift a finger in defence of these very policies which he is no doubt aware of and has implicitly approved. Right?

A fortnight ago here in Cartelopia we had pleaded – demanded – that he speak. We wanted some coherent and reasonable explanation for the current ‘state of the nation’. We outlined a number of the violent and baffling signposts of our most recent past and the even more unsettling ways in which the so-called authorities had responded and continue to respond. Top on the list of those in authority who had made little sense at various critical junctures was the PM, Mr. Goodfortune, himself. Well, finally, our Prime Minister spoke. And we got waffle- waffle. Spoonfuls.

Reasonable expectations were that having finally acquired his own mandate placed his own men and women in power; he must have something sensible to tell us now. So he spoke on Thursday 28th July.  In his disarmingly halting, quiet manner he sounded almost hurt as he took great pains to contextualise a proposed executive bill that would provide Cartelopia’s next (???) head of state with a single six- or seven – year term.

He had apparently been taken by surprise at the ferocious, across the board criticism that greeted his first substantive proposition since acquiring the national mandate as Prime Minister in April this year. Two-days before, an authoritative press statement by his media man and one of his newest hires, had failed to produce the desired magic effect. So he tried to explain by himself – in vain. It was not his idea originally. It was purely altruistic. Humph.

It is astonishing that a leader whose well-oiled, slick PR machinery had really gone a very long way in swinging  votes for him could not deploy any of those acquired skills to his first executive move (after appointing ministers). The complete misreading of the political waters so soon after a supposed landslide election victory says a lot about the nature of that victory. Is it as vacuous and contrived as his latest attempt at leadership? We hope not. His clerical, musical, media and political dues have surely been paid with ministerial appointments and what not. He should now try to reward all the people of this nation who he purports to lead… and hearken to the cautionary winds that are blowing in other far more fortunate parts of this world. Those self-serving alliances will be his undoing.

**Yolah, a development economist, journalist and public affairs analyst writes from Abuja


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