16 March 2011

Dancing Steps, 'Big English' and a Dearth of Brooms - It's Election 2011

It’s election time in Nigeria. The media – television, newspapers, radio and even Facebook is littered with solicitation for votes from politicians. Their hangers-on in the guise of ‘Concerned Citizens of Nigeria,’ ‘Coalition for a Better Nigeria,’ and many other interesting names also put in a word or two in the newspapers and on Television with their very own personal pictures in tow.

The curious part of this election is that no one knows what any of the parties stand for. The President, Goodluck Jonathan has been criss-crossing the country making a lot of promises to traditional rulers and large crowds of specific things he will do for their community if elected. There is no coherent strategy to these promises and I suspect there will be no coherent strategy to implement them. It appears that there is no coherent strategy to governance either from the President or from his party, PDP, at national, local or state levels. The other major parties - CPC, ACN and ANPP do not fare any better. This contrasts with the elections of 1979 where nearly all the parties campaigned on issues rather than personalities. I can recollect that as school children in those days, we were able to recite without hesitation the ‘4-Cardinal programme’ of the Unity Party of Nigeria UPN. How politics has changed for worse in Nigeria!

To a very large extent, the campaigns have been amusing and sometimes saddening. Here are some of the highlights:

  • It has been a season of party hopping, politicians camping and decamping from parties they know are unpopular in their region.

  • The mandatory regional attires worn by Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo in each of the states and region they visit. Colourful and varied.

  • The also mandatory dance by politicians at the campaign rallies - from the ridiculous swaying of arms to the ridiculous swaying of the waist. Some of them, I must confess are masters of the art.

  • Some State Governors are making it difficult for opposition parties to hold campaign rallies in their State in the name of security or by simply ensuring that opposition parties cannot book any venue to hold their rallies. The truth is that Governors hold a tight rein on the affairs of their States in an almost dictatorial way and this is bad for politics and for our national development.

  • The recent Gadarene rush by Governors to make donations of vehicles and equipment to the Police Force in their respective States is blatantly criminal. How we allow this to happen is beyond me. Obviously these are protection money and inducements to the police come election time. It also means that the police will sabotage any opposition before, during and after the elections.

  • The stifling heat and the massive, often rented crowds who will shout ACN today and in the next chorus PDP, CPC, LP or ANPP. Who can blame them? After all, ‘they must eat’ and whoever provides the means is the Messiah for the day and he gets the fleeting Hosanna chorus.

  • The political elite understand that hunger is the key to the heart, mind and presence of a poor man. So they deliberately keep the poor majority in poverty and ignorance.

  • I am intrigued by the political marriage between Muhammadu Buhari the ‘almost’ fundamentalist Muslim Presidential candidate of CPC and Pastor Tunde Bakare, his ‘almost’ fundamentalist Christian running mate. Wonders never end.

  • The overwhelming evidence of the ‘ch factor’ problem in Nigeria as politicians shout from the top of their lungs, “give us the ‘shance’ (chance) to ‘shange’ (change) the country.” “I was not born ‘rish’ (rich).” We will ‘ashieve’ (achieve) ….

  • Imah Nsa Adegoke, a female gubernatorial candidate in Cross Rivers State speaking in impeccable English to a not too impressed audience. Poor lady!

  • The campaign adverts - the best in my opinion are “Goodluck for me, Goodluck for you, Goodluck for everybody, Goodluck Nigeria” of Goodluck Jonathan. I also like Fashola’s “We no dey see am again”

  • The unfortunate bombings at some party political rallies, victims of whom in most cases are ordinary poor Nigerians who were probably paid to attend the rallies.

  • The faces of the victims of the bombing in Suleja, Niger State as they lay helplessly in blood-drenched hospital beds with no bed covers. Ironically the Governor of the State, Babangida Aliyu is an outspoken critic of his fellow Governors. Is it a case of all talk and no action?

  • Perennial presidential candidate, Reverend Okotie’s strategy to solve the problem of Nigeria with ‘big’ grammar is a major letdown by someone who, though, considers himself a philosopher has shown his inability to grow-up. How do you explain his incomprehensible ‘I am Reverend Kris Okotie advert?’:

    • "I am Reverend Kris Okotie, I believe we must rise above the mosaic of religion."
    • "I am Reverend Kris Okotie, gender equality is a prolific attestation to my faith in an egalitarian society."
    • "I am Reverend Kris Okotie, I believe change derives from a vertical impetus which translates into horizontal movement." (acted by a roast yam seller)
    • “I am Reverend Kris Okotie, the forces of political monopoly and economic monopsony will only lead to the monotony of failure.”
    • “I am Reverend Kris Okotie, Nigeria needs a man who can combine intellectual capacity with spiritual profundity…."

Has anyone explained to Reverend Okotie that communication is the ability to transmit meaning? How can you win an election when you do not make sense to the majority of your audience? Or how will a roast yam seller understand the meaning of ‘impetus’ or a professor for that matter the meaning of ‘profundity?’

  • Broom merchants must be making a kill at this time. ACN’s symbol is the broom and it’s a must-have accessory at rallies. The last I heard is that the United States is about to go to war with Nigeria because their stockpile of brooms have been depleted by Nigerian ACN members.

  • The stand-off between father and political Godfather Olusola Saraki and his Governor son, Bukola over who the next Governor of Kwara State will be. Olusola wants his daughter Gbemi, (Bukola’s sister) as the next Governor, Bukola says this will only happen over his dead body. Is the alleged feud a stunt?

  • The reality of election in Nigeria is that the wealthy and many educated people do not vote because they cannot cope with the 'indignity' of queuing hours on end in the sun before a makeshift polling booth. Our wily politicians understand this and also know that their votes mainly come from the downtrodden who can be bribed to do them the honours. So politicians will probably never make voting easy in Nigeria.

  • Having said this, I am encouraged by the enthusiastic turnout of Nigerians during the voters registration exercise earlier this year. It appears that against all odds, the vast majority of Nigerians recognise that they can no longer watch from the sidelines. If we take this same enthusiasm to the election proper. Who knows what will happen.


ade said...

Who knows what will happen indeed?

I totally agree with you about the lack of policies from all the parties - Nigerian politicians seem to think that platitudes of providing electricity without any credible plan to back up their statement is good enough for the voting population.

Watching the VP debates, I was saddened by the fact that the moderator was not able to pin the candidates down on actual policy statements but allowed them to ramble on about what they would all do (without any plan of HOW they were going to do it)

As for Bakare and Buhari well....

vW said...

lol @ the ‘ch factor’ problem... Shursh-hill virus.

Very bizarre things that one can only find in Nigerian politics (and Libya n others), broad-daylight robbery n taking advantage of the populace. How saddening!

Truly I hope as many as possible vote this time and raise a voice to see that that their votes count!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm! this is interesting, but I will be watching from behind the line.
God bless Nigeria