FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, October 7, 2018
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THE ALLURE OF POWER FROM UNSCRUPULOUS MEN

n recent times, we have been inundated by stories of defection from one party to another and declaration for one position or the other. From everyday psychology, the eyes are the focal point of visual contact; and are often the first to show signs of a tired, aged appearance. Albeit, there are seemingly two types of eyes, the physical and the non-physical which most people consider the sixth sense or the inner eye.

Certainly, one cannot believe everything nor the claims of these drifters at face value without critically analyzing the scientific and anatomic basis of their claims. There is no doubt that there is a common thread that yarn these people together, they are selfish and opportunistic.

With undeniable commonality, they imbue every inch of the assertion of being selfish and opportunistic with such a magnetic luster, searing and elegiac strains that rattles the soul. There are several disquieting examples of these people with overly narrow interpretation of a Nigerian; in their minds we are unintelligent, gullible and easily swayed by ill-gotten wealth. Well, if these were true, who made it so? It is these serpents with feet that pauperized the people in every way. It is an unresolved irony, for a man who could afford cars worth several millions of naira and houses outside the country where he only visits once or twice a year to shamelessly empower other nations' economy whilst his own community languishes in poverty and such individuals still seek to be their leader.

As one attempts to understand the mindset of those that shed crocodile tears and the brazing usurpers of power for mere aggrandizement, it is important to consider very two important elements in any human endeavor. And obliquely alluding to this thought, a scripture passage in Hebrews 6:18 readily comes to mind, where the writer says that "by two immutable things, it is impossible for God to lie". A deep analysis of this text begs the question, what are these two things, after a through reflection, it came to mind that it was the character and the word of God. God's words are true and His character is sound and reliable. Now, before anyone will quiver, this is not by any stretch of imagination comparing man to God. The point however is that we should be more concerned by the words and character of any man (generic) seeking to lead this great nation of ours. Surely, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Let us examine two men; Abubakar Atiku and Bukola Saraki who epitomize what is actually wrong with our nation and in my view make them unfit to be the nation's president. Atiku once insulted our sensibility as a people when he said that if anyone has any evidence of corruption against him that one should come out and say it. Well, in our clime, people are not so disposed to information on taxes and business dealings and criminal activities like money laundering because we hardly keep such records. Nonetheless, there are countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom that have information on financial transactions because they control those financial platforms. For instance, Dariye and Ibori were able to escape justice in Nigeria until they were shown the books in the United Kingdom. It is very easy for man who aspire to be president in Nigeria and yet not able to visit the United States of America to continue to proclaim a non-existent innocence. This man creates his own hauntingly brand of narratives of which many analytical minds see through his emptiness and unbraided ambition to become the nation's president. Atiku's crescendos of wrongdoing are well documented by the United States and they will surely open the books for him whenever he sets foot on their shores.

Bukola Saraki, on the hand is a well-educated man but he is enslaved by ambition, penchant for wealth and power at any expense. His so blinded by ambition, which makes it even impossible to keep peace with his sibling. It was no longer news how he craftily took the reins of power at the Senate. It was a brazing act of moral cowardice and ignorance and to assume that our people would not take notice of his actions is equally mind boggling. His antecedents beckon on him again when he wanted to declare for his presidency. He high-jacked a platform of the "Not Too Young to Rule Movement" presumably to legitimize himself. According to reports, the movement, however, hours after the town hall meeting, in a statement expressed their disappointment in the Senate president, condemning Saraki for 'usurping' their event and consequently distanced itself from his declaration.

Perhaps, if he had coordinated with the movement and carried them along with his intentions, they in turn probably would have gone along with him but that is not in the character of the man. He is loaded with sharp practices and opportunistic tendencies. For instance, the Head of Funds Transfer Unit of the Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Amazi Nwachuckwu, who appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja gave clear evidence of Bukola Saraki's financial dealings whilst serving in public capacity as a Senator and Governor which are contrary to the laws of the land. But because we have very unreliable and compromised men adjudicating cases in Nigeria, he escaped justice. Even Bukola Saraki cannot feign ignorance that in a well-structured society that he could get away with such act of impunity. After all, Manafort did not get away with it in America considering how highly placed he was. Secondly, this is a man that is already tainted by his association with the "Offa Robbers". If any man keeps companies with robbers and thugs, then that tendency are also in him, otherwise he will have nothing to do with them.

The only essential commodity that the scripture enjoins us to purchase in Proverbs 23:23 is the truth and once we do, we should not sell it. Thirdly, this is a man whose obsessive pursuit of power made him to choose his personal comfort over that of the nation. If Saraki were to be truthful and honorable, he should simply have resigned his position once he defected to another party because there are no moral grounds and it defies logic to hang on to such position but he cannot because to him that position is not for service but mere show of power, importance and of course it will be completely out of character to resign a position that makes him a demigod.

The question that should be in everyone's lips is, Saraki, what have you done to better the lots of Nigerians in all the positions that you have been privileged to hold in Nigeria? A young friend of mine that went to serve in Kogi State and had to pass through Ilorin once described how backward Ilorin remained after the eight year rule of Bukola Saraki, and she said she could not fathom the reason why a man like that should desire the office of the president when he could not lift his people out of poverty. Thankfully though, the people are becoming aware of the sad situation thrust upon them by accidental leaders, there are now inter-religious assemblies working together to free the state from the stranglehold of the oppressors that had held them bound for so long in the state.

Sadly, in our society, a thorough review of allegations against any candidate is not usually done before an election or even a confirmation vote takes place in both chambers of the national assemblies. That is why you see fundamentally dishonest, unscrupulous men who are contemptuous of law and process, with fake certificates and illegitimate wealth aspiring for various positions in the country. It is a personal tragedy, but even more a tragedy for our nation.

Nonetheless, it is important that our people use their sixth sense and their inner eyes to see through all the shenanigans and sift the dirt from the wheat. We do not need these pretenders who hobnob with the gap tooth general who is the architect of and part and parcel of the problems bedeviling the nation. We are not unaware of the devices of these yesterday's men who want to reverse our little fortune as a nation. Those that could never sanitize their soiled conscience of the murder of one of Nigerian finest journalists -Dele Giwa and who built an empire with our collective patrimony.

Sooner or later they will all take their rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history once the full extent of their venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption seeps in with the public at large.

The reasons we keep on recycling all these old and tired hands is partly due to the political passivity on the part of the electorates and our inability to evaluate candidates objectively. However, as key as this is, a friend suggested that there are existential factors that pose a bigger challenge to our general well-being as a nation. These in his analysis are illiteracy, poverty, primordial sentiments - ethnic, religion and sectional sentiment.

Illiteracy - The level of illiteracy in Nigeria is still on the high side and it does not matter how politically active an illiterate is, to their credit they are politically active, they lack to some degree the capacity to rightly evaluate a competent candidate hence will not vote from an informed standpoint, let alone hold an office holder accountable.

Poverty- In Nigeria, the poor people are actually the most politically active class and they constitute the majority of the people that actually go out to vote on Election Day. Nevertheless, they are being taken advantage of by their political masters whose only goal is to perpetually subjugate them to a life of poverty such that they can tool them up to be used to perform dishonorable or unpleasant tasks for their political masters. They make them offers that will satisfy their immediate quest, they even use pseudonyms such as "stomach infrastructure". It is a tragedy of monumental proportions that most of them would have sold their souls prior to the election for a pot of porridge and hence they cannot vote their conscience let alone hold an office holder accountable.

Primordial Sentiments - Nigeria is home to many ethnic and religious bigots, some of these classes of people could actually be well educated, financially independent and have the capacity to research and evaluate a competent candidate. However, on the election day, if at all they turn out, ethnicity or religion would likely be the prevailing factor for voting rather than competence and thereby not able to hold an office holder accountable because they have voted on the basis of their kinship and religious affiliation.

Lastly, the biggest challenge is the process through which political parties choose their candidates. Our electoral act and constitution does not allow for an independent candidacy. To contest for an elective position in Nigeria, you have to be registered as a member of a political party and be sponsored by the party. The process however, is fraught with irregularities, corruption and godfatherism. The saddest of it all is that it is only those preferred candidates of the godfathers that their name ends up on the ballot paper; hence everyone's choices are limited and surreptitiously determined by the money bag godfather. This is how we get stuck with illegitimate, clueless candidates over and over again. These are the real reasons militating against a competent, well informed leadership in Nigeria, and as long as these factors remain, it could be a lot easier to love the country from afar.

In the final analysis, in Nigeria, we all have expectations, however, the reality that exist is not in concert with our expectations, the gap between is what causes despair and we need someone that could bridge this gap, otherwise we will continue to wallow in poverty in the midst of plenty. It is apt to end with the thought of my friend Bayo Williams who quote the scripture when we were discussing all the political permutation for 2019, he said, "Nigeria choose you this day whom you will serve". In other words, the power to choose right lies with all of us only if we could be courageous not to batter it for something temporal and of less value.

As for me, it is better to choose a man that is forthright, integrity bound, who might not necessarily do everything right but his intentions are sincere and genuine towards his people, as opposed to men whose bellies are their gods.


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