The Same Old Tricks

Some of my readers have reminded me of an ultimatum I gave in July: to leave Abuja if the massacre of innocent people in parts of the north did not end by the end of August 2014. I am happy to inform them that I always keep my promises; I am not the typical Nigerian politician.  Since August, I have taken steps to live outside of Abuja and work from other towns and cities of the world. In a few days, the rope binding me to Nigeria’s capital city will become even looser. Thanks to ICT, writers and editors can now work from anywhere!

I’m not alone. Many of my kinsmen living in different parts of the country have told me that, when they go home for this Christmas, they will not return until March or later. Others are proposing to travel in the first week of February and not come back until the state of the country becomes clearer. Some are relocating and not planning to return.

With the recent attacks in Kano and the north-east, no Igbo trader needs to be reminded that home is the best. Indeed, this is a time that calls for wisdom. We know that everyone must die someday, but it is bad for one to die as a result of foolish risk-taking.

My assessment of the situation is that the forces seeking to destroy Nigeria cannot be stopped. The country and its leaders appear helpless in the face of this unconventional war. Don’t listen to anyone giving you assurances – terrorism has come to stay in Nigeria. I have been watching to hear the politicians announce a postponement of the 2015 polls on account of the anti-insurgency battle. But no. What worries all of them is political survival. They want “automatic” tickets. They want to control their party’s “structure” in their states. In their thinking, nothing will stop the polls slated for February.

Meanwhile, the poor keep dying of neglect, hunger and starvation. Over a million Nigerians are now refugees in their own country. Of course, they won’t vote in the elections. Nor will most victims of bombing still lying in hospitals ever get a chance to vote. None of the 20, 000+ dead of voting age will be resurrected to vote in February.

I see more trouble ahead because nothing has changed in the way politics is played in Nigeria. It’s the same old ways, the same old tricks. Just watch the party primaries and tell me if there is any iota of democracy in the processes. Delegates are handpicked and bribed. At times, they are forced to take oaths of allegiance on coffins or corpses. And because most of them have been brainwashed or intimidated by poverty to put their votes where their mouths are, we have not witnessed any upset in the party primaries. Needless to say, the general elections have been rigged already.

Should I make predictions? I always forecast the future – and, almost always, I’m vindicated. I hereby prophesy: There is nothing else to expect except trouble. Bombs will keep exploding even on campaign grounds. Some presidential candidates will not campaign in some parts of the country for fear of being assassinated or given the Abiola treatment. The 2015 polls will go down in history as the worst ever. Neither the PDP nor the APC will accept to lose the presidential election. The armed forces and security agents will back the incumbent government but will find it difficult to suppress the uprising that will follow.

See why many want to relocate to their hometowns in advance of the polls?

The country has drifted mainly because it lacks an effective and efficient leadership. For instance, the National Conference to which over N12billion was committed this year has been forgotten; it became the jamboree that many had predicted. No good bill has been passed by the National Assembly; even the PIB has been stalled. The more money put into “security”, the worse the security situation becomes.

What may pour petrol into the raging fire next year is the economy that has been ruined by greed, monumental theft, lack of planning and lack of productivity. “Austerity measures” and calls for “belt tightening” do not yet affect the outrageous remunerations enjoyed by politicians. It is the poor who have no belts that are being asked to prepare for “belt tightening” by paying more for fuel, food and everything else. There are no jobs for the unemployed. Workers, who earn less on account of the reduced value of the naira, are threatened with retrenchment.

Since politics is now the only well-paying job in the country, the desperation of politicians could be understood. Lawmakers now dangling an impeachment threat before President Jonathan are simply clinging to the last bogeyman in their possession. They won’t succeed. But the nation would pay for their selfishness – and for their stupidity.

When I examine Nigerian politics using my crystal ball, I see the harbingers of class suicide knocking at the door. It’s needless telling them to save themselves because a hunter’s dog doesn’t hear the smell of faeces. At a time like this, however, I wish to quote former American president John Kennedy, as I have done before in this space: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” He who has ears, let him hear.



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