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THIS TRANSIENT TIME OF POLITICIANS

PHOTO: L-R: A FILE PHOTO OF AKWA IBOM STATE GOVERNOR, GODSWILL AKPABIO; FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA AND REPRESENTATIVE ESEME EYIBOH, TAKEN IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE A FEW WEEKS AGO.
PHOTO: L-R: A FILE PHOTO OF AKWA IBOM STATE GOVERNOR, GODSWILL AKPABIO; FORMER MILITARY DICTATOR, GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA AND REPRESENTATIVE ESEME EYIBOH, TAKEN IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE A FEW WEEKS AGO.

The concept of time would remain controversial though a constant variable in the affairs of man. Different individuals occupying different geographic spaces have different impressions of time as such, variegated attributes are adduced to time.

Whatever be the case, time can never be isolated in the affairs of man for according to a mystical viewpoint, " time is the duration of consciousness", it stands at the cradle of all levels of awareness. Benjamin Franklin went further to describe time as the stuff with which life is made. It is the beginning and end of, and to everything.

The breath of life from and by Almighty Creator of every living being, every where, provides the first attribute to one's existence and till it vamooses from one at death, every awareness or otherwise of existence simply follows a continuum that one day, one day, everything that has a beginning must have an end no matter how prolonged.

Man is daily guided by time in our doings and undoings and at such times the ever living time keeper, the reader of eternal book of life keeps record of everything, the thoughts and conducts of every man whose existence remains fathomable.

Dimensions of all sorts have been introduced to time, past, present and future as well as, birth, growth, maturation, decline and death. These are all stages in human life, institutions and societies in which man germinate.

In human organisations and communities, time as eternal constancy exhibits trends and cycles and in a nation like ours, human activities, actions and/ or inactions cannot be obliterated in time perspective. When humans behave or misbehave, the events thus generated become readable as history in near future by the generation of people who invariably may be privileged to read and re- read activities of certain individuals in time past.

Politics is a very important aspect of human life and no matter how apolitical one may tend to be, political governance enforces every man to find bearing at least in the why of politics. Why question propels other questions in the affairs of man in his society. Thus, we can simply ask who does what?, where?, when? and how?, as journalists capture their story lines for those of us lay men and women co- habiting in both small and enlarged societies.

Clinging to the advise of Winston Churchill that " politics is too serious a business to be left solely in the hands of politicians" one then becomes tempted to permutate the time certain individuals appear on the political terrain of Nigeria, their actions and inactions including events that surround their time.

Aside the usual singing of national anthem and recitation of the pledge at public functions, average Nigerians have no other platform at which their loyalty to the nation is clarionised. However, it is in politics and political appointments that an initiatory process of swearing-in and administration of oath of allegiance come into play in the life of man and Nigerians as a whole.

Like a marriage covenant, they both call for spiritual, emotional and heartfelt allegiance to the phenomenon in question. In politics it is the individual politician's public allegiance to the office he or she is to serve his or her nation at whatever capacity or level at which the political position is to be held.

I am tempted to tilt a little bit back into political history of our beloved nation Nigeria as we are this year marking our nation's 50th independence anniversary and to humbly ask us all reflect on the golden saying of our one and only Zik of Africa, late Dr. Chief Nnamdi Azikwe whom the 1963 Constitution of Nigeria authorised to become the first President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Prior to this time, Nnamdi Azikwe was the Governor General who later had to replace the Queen of England who had been the Head of State of Nigeria. In his inaugural address at the Swearing-in Ceremony on 1st of October 1963, Mr, President stated that two oaths had been administered to him as follows:

" The first is the oath of allegiance enjoining him to be loyal to the country of my birth by preserving, protecting and defending its constitution.

The second, is the oath of office binding me to serve my country as a faithful functionary according to law."

According to Zik, loyalty to one's country is the most precious tribute a patriot can pay to his fatherland, faithfulness to duty the most acceptable service expected from conscientious servant while loyalty and faithfulness express the idea of steadfastness to a common purpose.

This common purpose is encapsulated in the constitution, the organic law of the land which delimits the territories of Nigeria's federation, defuses Nigerian citizenship, guarantees fundamental rights, and provides for the maintenance of law and order by distributing powers among the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the state.

The constitution of Nigeria at inception was intended to ensure liberty, equality and justice both in Nigeria and all over the world where true democracy is in practise.

To one's dismay, nothing much is visible in terms of building a virile nation after Nigeria's attainment of political independence about fifty years ago. Except in self deceit, the yearnings of the early nationalists and dogged fighters for Nigeria's holistic independence which then was thought would guarantee every Nigerian to live like free men and women in a free republic, is today shattered and scattered by the politicians' emphasis on differences in tongs and tribes.

The word Nigeria is today very meaningless as an identity to be defended by all and every means because the current map of what should be a beloved nation is daily being torn into shreds by many of our politicians whose personal, religious, ethnic and tribal interests are far above national interest to which they have all sworn allegiance at one time or the other.

At whatever level of individual and national affair that politics is introduced, a mere ripple graduates to tsunami and thus hope is crippled, in religion, economy, culture including any human phenomenon into which politics finds incursion, one is rest assured of katakata and calamity.

Our beloved nation can no longer be defined, our citizenship lays no claim to any authenticity, the constitution oscillates according to dictates and tunes of individuals, their classes and caucuses whereas, a nation whose fate and fortunes lie solely in the hands of individuals plummets with fleeting nature of those individuals and their transient times on stage.

Political governance in Nigeria seems to be personality, family and dynasty based, its orientation follows the selfish attitudes and ambitions of individuals to the peril of ethical and institutional values. Whereas, Zik at the inception of independence advised Nigerians that: " to no person no matter how wealthy should we sell our soul and to no nation, no matter how powerful, should we mortgage our conscience", average Nigerian politicians are not only defaulting but also the generality of Nigerians are daily reneging on this admonition as Nigeria marks 50 years.

This time around, politics is like merchandise for sale and pick by the highest bidders, politicians are like slave drivers of old engaging in haggling the destiny of Nigerians and endangering the future of Nigerian youths who are being used and misused for fiendish interests because of general abject poverty and manipulations of all sorts.

It becomes difficult to call the Nigerian political game an institution nor title it as a system because according to our indefatigable Catholic priest, Reverend Father Hassan Kukah in his observation, " In the absence of a coherent and political system, in the absence of morality and real moral values, a society inevitably resorts to mythology. Part of this myth is that you call a human being and call him god. When a society does not have values, part of this mythology is the type of cars individuals acquire".

My submission is that besides the immense power of god or devil father in political circle, by their mansions, caps and vehicles we know who politicians are in Nigeria and not in the quality of governance.

There are dictations, subtle and glaring control of the economy, politics, health and other spheres of our beloved nation Nigeria still by Britain, America, China, Korea, Germany and a host of other nations under which influences Nigeria is subject and to whose interests, whims and caprices we prostrate as a nation.

Time is no longer on our side, Nigerian politicians at the dawn of independence, those we refer to as elder statesmen if still alive and those who during military regimes have joined the class of rulers, all, have started recording desertification of their heads, degradation of their teeth, deforestation of their beards and moustaches and all in all are daily getting closer to their graves as time and climate change, yet, Nigeria has refused to join the race of an ideal society in the comity of democratic countries.

The current crop of average Nigerian politicians seem not keen on the true meaning of an ideal and vibrant nation, the youths are hysterical about their future yet are close allies in the ruination of today.

Time is not on our side but as Millie Small and Jimmy Cliff once sang, "Time will tell, Time will tell, Time will always tell".

A Rosicrucian admonition instructs "that today is yesterday's tomorrow". The question then is, "are we Nigerians all moving forward in thoughts and conducts?" If not why not?

My best wishes for profound peace as Nigeria marks 50 years of its political sovereignty.

Taiye Olaniyi writes from Abuja and can be reached on [email protected]

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