Politicians are not given to facing the reality even when it barrels down their necks. They dream dumb dreams and think thoughts that ultimately tank in abysmal failure. They know certain elections they cannot win; but they keep promising themselves and their patronising adherents that they possess an innate ability to wake up the dead and freely rid the body of rigor mortis.
Nigeria’s next presidential election is in February 2023 when voters are expected to pick who succeeds Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd.). 18 people have drummed-up their desires to be president. Those who will never win among them know the truth. But because politicians are masters of self-deception, they stick their necks deep in the game. Politicians are fact-free and hateful of facts. Their burrows are in fantasies and illusions. Their acts are replete with rhetoric, and obese with lies and self-deception.
In a campaign season, politicians relish the phony-baloney aura where applauding adherents and acolytes make them look like messiahs without whom nothing can be done. They love the attention-drawing drums beaten for them at every town event. They love appearances on TV and nonsensical talks on social media. They just want to be heard and seen in their pursuit of vanity and inanity. To their followers, they are avatars whose words are indubitable.
After every campaign, however, comes the towering test at the polls. If the election is free and fair, that is where the distinguished proves himself that he cannot be extinguished. People listen to seekers of offices at rallies and town hall meetings during electioneering. Those who are impressed about what their ears pick up about the futures of their children’s children thumb-print the ballot paper in a particular politician’s favour. But politicians who poach with Pecksniffian pandering, and who try to fool the people are heave-hoed as chaff. At the polls, the quality of the candidate is tested.
Three out of the 18 candidates desiring to succeed Buhari are outleading others as of today. But all of the three are tainted with one smudge or the other. Their portfolios are heavy with malodors that make wise men hold their noses. They are now called ‘the three leprous emperors.’
One of them, we heard, is alleged not to be a Nigerian. But he has held top positions as a free-born Nigerian citizen. Not too long ago, he auctioned off Nigeria’s juicy assets to his cronies while he had the political power to call the shots. Some people call him the ambassador of bold-faced corruption. And he is running to be president. Always have been running. And many wonder why he runs when no one is pursuing.
Another one, we heard, was very corrupt when he was a state governor. And even as ex-governor, he still holds the state by the jugular saying to thousands to come and they come, commanding a multitude to go, and they go. He’s got a lot of gravitas and endowed with charms. And men and women in his party rally solidly behind him as he runs for president. There are musings around town that he may be the man to beat in this contest.
The last one, we heard, that as governor of his state, he diverted billions of the state fund and invested the same in his family’s business.
He gleefully confirmed it in a TV debate 2019, and sees nothing wrong with the larcenous move. His fanatics believe that he did their people a favour by the fund diversion that yielded his state no dividends. And I am bewildered that a lot of people look at the fella like the divine intervention in Nigeria’s wobbly testimonies. Are these three, my friends, Nigeria’s leprous emperors seeking power? Except God decides to get involved in mundane stuff like the Nigerian politics, one of the three men will be president next year. Who will that be? That’s the surreal suspense regarding these three leprous fingers.
I will refrain from referring to any of the three men as ‘bad’ guys. They do have their strengths and abilities to pull off some landmark achievements when they had political power. But can we not do better than these? Not this time. We have to anoint one and crown him in Aso Rock posh palace. The able among us have been disabled. The right men and women for the job are deemed wrong. They have no moola to splurge. And many people have always wondered why dubious men and women fill up the trenches in our politics. I know why. Working in any arm of government in Nigeria is an assuring pathway and easiest passage for any Tom, Dick, and Harry to haul in cool cash.
You only need a high school certificate, fake or real, to be eligible to run for office in Nigeria. Gangbangers and yobbos in great numbers know the requirements too. They become part of the mixed multitude trudging and tromping through the open sesame street of skullduggery and chicanery ruling over the wise. But who do you blame? Nigerians gave them a free pass. The free-pass to misrule.
The free pass to purloin and pillage. Their overarching goal is to clinch political power and then plunder the till. They are who they are; and forever the leprous will be prosperous off the back of the rest of us.
If you are sickened by the men who run your government, where are the good men? For as long as the earth remains, every abandoned building or space will be occupied by something or someone. When political positions are abandoned by able men, they will not be left unoccupied. Our land is filled with cryptically corrupt and critically crooked breathing beings. Joshua Dariye was Plateau State Governor for eight years.
He pillaged the treasury and the long hands of the law caught up with him. I remember the drama during his trial many years ago where he reportedly asked the prosecutor in anger, “Can you raise your hand and swear that there is a saint in Nigeria?” Dariye’s bellow was more of a confirming and affirming statement than a question. Nigeria’s development and future have always been committed to the hands of crooks. Can we ever get it right?