POLITICIANS AS NIGERIA'S BIGGEST HEADACHE
Now, let's face it. Despite all the empty (and, often, very exasperating) noise about being driven by patriotism and “desire to serve my people” that usually saturates the atmosphere at each election season, a careful, conscientious search on the political terrain can only yield about less than one percent (and one is being really generous here) of aspirants motivated solely by genuine desire to improve the lives of the citizenry and make society a better place.
For the majority, the sole incentive is the golden opportunity politics offers to gain access to government coffers and cart away as much free money as one could grab before one's tenure elapses. This is just the raw, plain truth. Indeed, it is a simple case of organized banditry and every politician in Nigeria knows that we know this.
There is, however, a very insignificant few who, although also inspired by the same primitive craving for the very unfairly lucrative political jobs, are content to just go home every month with only their usually jumbo salaries and allowances. Although, they do not find the very outrageously inflated pay packets they have allocated to themselves in the midst of widespread poverty very obscene, they are, however, able to recoil from the mad, free and fair looting that has become the distinguishing feature of political office in Nigeria . The brazenness with which the looting is perpetrated and the most revolting manner its prodigious proceeds are often flaunted before everyone underline the unmistakable impression that shameless stealing has received an official endorsement as part and parcel of governance, a kind of official culture.
What makes the matter even more egregious is that these callous looters are always able to use some tiny crumbs or the usually very reliable intoxicants, namely, ethnicity and religion, to get the same shortchanged and impoverished citizenry to rise in their defense each time there are attempts to pry into their hideous activities in office. It is only in Nigeria that this kind of thing makes sense – that someone among the populace would want to fight and even die for an unrepentant enemy of the people who has so wickedly exploited, dehumanized and grossly diminished him!
And that is why we hear our politicians always threatening blood and fire if they are “rigged” out. But the tragic irony is that you would always find some poor, long-suffering human beings with brain in their skulls eagerly electing to be the murderous agents whose hands the out-rigged politicians would always use to shed the innocent blood of mostly their fellow impoverished Nigerians (who have not done them any wrong) and set fire on properties mostly obtained through honest labour by hardworking citizens in a country where life has become a nightmare because of the failure of character and leadership on the part of our largely wayward rulers at all levels.
Now, look at it this way: a man is looking for access to where our commonwealth is dumped in order to plunder and cart away huge bags of unearned wealth, but he is outsmarted in the process by a more desperate and smarter opponent. And then the pitiable victim of all the devilish scheming will foolishly lay his life to fight for one of the prospective plunderers. Is this not madness?
When will Nigerians wake up from their self-induced slumber and learn? When will they cure themselves of self-inflicted blindness? When will they come into the liberating awareness that the real power lies in their hands, and that what happened was that they only foolishly and willingly relinquished it to a few heartless men and women who are now using it to horribly oppress and impoverish them? But when will it settle in their hearts that just as they willingly gave away this power, they can as well easily take it back?
The only election Nigerian politicians will claim was rigged is the one in which they lost. They will heartily declare on rooftops that the same election is “free and fair” if they win. The point of this discourse is that politics has been accepted as the easiest and quickest, but ungodly, route to self-enrichment by many politicians, but instead of going about it in a quiet, unobtrusive manner, they would always seek to disrupt our lives by brutally dragging us into their conflict each time they lose out in a game they had ensured we remained mere spectators – yes, we have been shut out and denied the opportunity of helping to decide or even merely observe how our God-given resources are utilised.
Let's say it again with more emphasis! For many of these politicians, politics is just another very lucrative business enterprise from which they are hoping to reap jumbo profits. We, the masses, do not feature in their calculations at all. If you see them building any road or repainting a school building, it is either another opportunity to accumulate immense dividends from an inflated contract or something they felt they must hurriedly (and often very poorly) do to buy our support for the next elections.
That is why such roads are often so substandard that the next rains after the elections would wash them off. Virtues like concern, compassion or altruism do not exist in the hearts of most Nigerian politicians. It is all about them, their relatives and friends, nothing more, nothing less. The whole ennobling idea about seeking to be treated fairly by history and earning and sustaining a good name are just strange, uninteresting notions that would never be able to win their admiration.
Now that it has become all too clear to everyone that they are mostly in this for power and wealth acquisition, why then should a politician outsmarted by his opponents begin to threaten to make the country ungovernable which is a direct threat to our peace and existence? Imagine such audacity? What exactly makes him think that he is too important that his personal loss should become our collective problem? Ungovernable for whom, by the way? The most annoying thing is that by the time he is making these threats, his family has been sent far away to some very safe, well-run country and himself has made solid travel and security arrangement to escape once the country goes up in flames as the deluded people he is instigating to pour into the streets to fight for him start mowing themselves down.
I seriously think that Nigerians have been deceived enough and should now put a halt to all this nonsense. They must realize that in the minds of these politicians, they are nothing but mere cheaply procured and dispensable instruments for power and wealth accumulation.
Nigerians must, therefore, hasten to clearly underline this point to the political gladiators, namely, that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians, and not to the few of them, and so, they have no right whatsoever to go ahead to threaten or unleash any form of violence because their more desperate and smarter colleagues displaced them in the clearly self-serving race for Nigeria's resources.
It is quite clear that what most of these politicians are merely bemoaning each time they fail to win an election is their failure to secure or re-secure looting rights, so I see no reason why they should cause any trouble in the polity and drag us all into their personal misfortune. This is what every Nigerian must know now, act aright and send the clear, correct message to these fellows who have become our country's most malignant affliction.
***Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye is a columnist with Daily Independent (every Tuesday on the Back Page) — [email protected] ; www.ugowrite.blogspot.com