In climes cracked by dysfunction and areas ripped apart by anomalies, words usually acquire new, twisted meanings, even as deep-running and defining games altogether come to be tainted with brushes that do not exactly flatter, mostly in service of extraordinary guile, gullibility or even blistering hypocrisy.
Many Nigerians are convinced that politics is a dirty game. They argue that because politics in Nigeria is tainted by blood, bile and bribe, it is and remains decidedly dirty, indelibly stained and irredeemable – a kind of ballet between Barabbas and Judas Iscariot.
Thus, with politics so shred of dignity, they choose to stay away, to vote with their feet, and while they are at it, they unwittingly but invariably yield the floor to those who intentionally muddy the waters so that anyone left with any modicum of morality whatsoever will refuse to drink. These they do without any scruples whatsoever.
With over 200 million citizens, the Giant of Africa counts many politicians among its ranks. There are the kingmakers and godfathers, big wigs and big shots, foot soldiers and mobilisers. The lowest rung of Nigeria`s political ladder is brought up by truants and touts – those who do not hesitate to deploy the dark arts even if it means casting a cloud of darkness over the ballot box.
But is Nigerian politics really a duet of dark artists? Is there enough dirt in Nigerian politics to make those scrupulous about cleanliness stay away or is it simply the case that patriotism in Nigeria has become so scarce that many simply have no strength left to participate in shaping the destiny of their country?
To be sure, in Nigerian politics, there are the peacocks – an ostentation of them. There always has been. Today, while some undoubtedly turn in their graves, others walk the political field listlessly, having suffered harrowing humiliation. There are yet others who are currently perched at the top of their game, calling the shots at different levels of government and influence in Nigeria.
With 2023 powerfully bounding down Nigeria`s lanes, power – that most succulent of political fruits – is about to change hands, or be switched like a baton, not just at the federal level but also across many states.
As a government which promised change but has delivered chaff instead prepares to take an ignominious bow, an ostentation of peacocks already parades itself before Nigerians.
One of them, trailed everywhere he goes by allegations that he has turned one of Nigeria
s most iconic states and regions into personal fiefdoms which fix his personal fealty has already pledged a dirty fight. While many wonder if he has the energy for adirty fight’ given that health and age have abandoned him, he is convinced that there is no better fit for an ailing country. These days, it seems senility comes with being a septuagenarian?
There is yet another who in his bid to become Nigeria`s first citizen has his nose perpetually thumbed at youth and equity. He too says that he alone has the cure for that which ails a once towering country.
Another one who got to the government house of his state in fortuitous circumstances but has since failed in making the most of his gift from the gods thinks he is God`s gift to Nigeria. His favourite strategy has been to make outrageous claims on sensitive issues like Covid-19, whip up supposedly popular sentiments and hoodwink the gullible. He recently nailed his colours to the mast for 2023 but even those who consider his youth an advantage are jarred by the garishness of his colours.
There are many others who live on the sidelines and consider politics and governance their sidelines instead of service to the people. For this group, the only thing that matters is that the peacocks keep rolling out peanuts.
Nigerian politics is mostly about peacocks and peanuts. The blistering hypocrisy of those who win elections on the platform of one party before swapping parties is often only matched by the baleful brigandage they visit on the public purse while in office. These they do to guarantee an endless supply of peanuts to keep their acolytes and foot soldiers happy and tightly leashed.
Because power is so concentrated in Nigeria as to intoxicate, those who get it do everything they can to secure their perks in and out of office and keep the peanuts raining. This is because the day the rain stops, relevance expires.
But the peanuts spread like breadcrumbs on the political trail are not just magnets for political acolytes and foot soldiers perpetually caught in mental servitude sustained by generous brainwashing. During elections, the greedy become gullible too.
For close to nothing, they bargain for the votes of people and when they agree, it is for peanuts. Thus, a country extravagantly blessed by nature languishes in poverty because the peacocks perched in and around the corridors of power know how to spread only peanuts and do little else.
While lack gleefully serves lemonade in many homes, the largest reserves of the public purse are marked to fund their ostentation. Better countries are surely made of better stuff.