Politics of acrimony and campaign of calumny are inevitable among elites bereft of ideas even amidst their megalomaniac followers. When one is desperate to grab power at all cost, one usually don’t take the stairs. All requisite decorum obtainable among power seekers in sane societies are jettisoned.
Vitriolic aspersions are casted against opponents. Antagonistism characteristic of aquatic animals is prevalent. Territorialism which is a zoological features of reptiles annotates their behavioural patterns. Vendettas, customary of Nazist tendencies lace their body languages. And the throes of survival of the fittest conceptualized by Charles Darwin and expanded by Herbert Spencer as far back as 1864 is replayed with contemporary angst. These defaces our sociopolitical terrain at each election season.
Consider the war of words between Gov. Nyesom Wike and his own faction of PDP and Atiku Abubakar’s faction. Wike dragged the matter to a perceivable elastic limit, that even former presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, (who by his last political expedition as deputy governorship candidate, is a stalwart of the party) cautioned that if Wike continues to grandstand as a weeping child, he should name his lollipop. Those throwing of tantrums were not in the greater interest of Nigerians. They’re all for selfish interests. And seeing his disgruntlement at these critical pre-election hours, Wike’s house has turned a pilgrimage site, where oppositions took turns preying on his irate emotions.
On July 03, His Excellency Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential aspirant of the New Nigeria People’s party (NNPP) spent the first 30 minutes of his one-hour interview throwing jabs at Peter Obi and Ndigbo.
In fact, since the emergence of third force from Labour party, both PDP and APC suddenly discovered that they’re of a unicellular paternity, and have focused on their newly-found common enemy — Peter Obi. Little wonder Barr. Dele Farotimi described Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) as “twin horsemen of the apocalypse.”
On August 01, Sam Omatseye, of The Nation newspaper, in his back page column fired a pull-him-down (PHD) salvo against Obi. The dirty-minded piece pasted obsequious scare on Obi’s person and aspiration. The article titled “Obi-tuary” drew public sympathy for Obi and a backlash against Sam. Most of the sympathizers wondered why he exuded such inhuman pheromone to wish his fellow man death just because he is contesting against his pay master.
In all these, Mr. Obi in his characteristic nature as a calm gentleman never raised an eyebrow.
But what incensed the public more, was Sam’s playing of the victim card, alleging that Peter Obi supporters were threatening his life. The likes of Mr. David Hundeyin raised patriotic alarm on Mr. Sam’s ugly antecedent, of notoriously labelling President Jonathan a goat during the “Occupy Nigeria protest.” Seemingly he was reputed for dirty hatchet job for an underhanded principal, thus his morbid article was aimed at announcing the obituary of Peter Obi’s ambition, since he is perceived a major threat to the success of Asiwaju’s ‘Emi lo kan’ mantra.
Within 48 hours of that publication which, without a single evidence, alluded ethnic colouration to Obi’s aspiration, there arose more than ten rejoinders against his position from many concerned Nigerians. But as if that was not enough, the confraternity of Sea Dogs, commonly known as Pirates matched through the streets chanting chorusals of a presumably ‘anti-Tinubu’ melody, much to the admiration of ‘Obidients’ camp.
The sing-sang lyrically threw derogatory jab on Tinubu as they claimed that “Baba wey no well, dey shout Emi lo kan, wen hands dey shake, legs dey shake…” The viral video clip ultimately inflamed BAT’s quarters as well. It drew reactions from both proud and closet Tinubu supporters. Even the renown detribalized Nobel laureate and literature god, Prof. Soyinka spoke up in condemnation of the gyration song, especially since he was one of the living ancestors of the confraternity.
He said: “I find it distasteful. I belong to a culture where we do not mock physical afflictions or disabilities. Very much the contrary. The Yoruba religion indeed designate a deity, Obatala, as the divine protector of the afflicted, no matter the nature of such affliction. This sensibility is engrained in us from childhood and remains with us all our lives. It operates on the principle of mortal frailty to which all humanity remains vulnerable.”
Those were the cross-fires that had accustomed every transitional period as described in the preamble.
However, the number and calibre of persons that condemned the song but were silent on the obit-uary announcement by Mr. Sam calls to question our moral standards as a people. If mocking an apparently frail Jagaban in the slang song was antithetical, then what of publishing (with picture) obituary of live human being? Both should stand condemned. While Soyinka evoked the sentiment of Yoruba culture to condemn the song, he should note that sanctity of human life which his Egba brother abused on Peter Obi, predated every culture. In the words of Dike Chukwumerije: “no culture is older than being human.”
But as the discourses raged on, Mr. Abiola Owoaje (a member of the confraternity) issued a commentary thus: “The Pyrates song is a whistle blower conveying by means of songs, all the misdeeds that have taken place, or is taking place within the society. The sing-sang in many ways deconstructs society and events that occur within it and orients its message towards radical social change. Our songs tell a story to stimulate discourse and effect the needed societal change. They are creatively composed from the depressing and unfortunate political leadership that for years has not served Nigeria and Nigerians well. Pyrates develop melodious songs with distinct rhythm and satirical lyrics to deplore ills in the society while advocating for a responsible and responsive political leadership and public conduct. The nuance of these lyrics is often mistaken by the non-initiate.”
If it took such jab perceivably targeted at Tinubu, for Prof Soyinka to realize the danger of playing with human life and health challenges then bias is established.
For journalist and writer, Mr. Charles Ogbu: “The notion that it is improper to satirically tell BAT that Nigeria is currently too sick to have a medically unfortunate grand-father preside over her affairs after Muhammadu Buhari’s disastrous outing, is a very wrong notion. Puerile, even!”
When a frail old man who is manifestly suffer!ng from both physical and mental infirrmity, insists on vying for a job that requires both physical and mental fitness, that fra!l old man is not only challenging nature, he is mocking the millions of people whose lives would be gravely affected by his inability to carry out his duty if given the opportunity.
It is a curious thing, that none of those against the pirates confraternity song on Tinubu has disputed the key issue in the song which is that the former Lagos governor is physically and mentally unfit to preside over the destiny of over 200 million Nigerians after 8 years of Buhari. On the contrary, they all seem to acknowledge that indeed, the APC presidential candidate is under the captivity of ill health. Their only contention appears to be that we the citizens, whose collective destiny and future would be put on hold as Tinubu jets off for a long but frequent medical tourism abroad, in the event he becomes president, should not call out his ev!l plan to play Russian Roulette with our lives.
Another side to the rebuttals is that many Yorubas hide under ‘their’ subsisting culture of respect for the elderly to refrain from criticizing Jagaban for whatever misfit he or his surrogates commit in the course of their campaign. The phrase “I can’t discuss someone old enough to be my father” is the usual sound bite. Even Daddy Freeze in one of his many online broadcasts said that since everyone wishes to grow old some day, it will be a taboo to criticize an elderly grandfather like Tinubu. This, to me represents double standard. President Goodluck Jonathan was already a grandfather when political elites from the Egba land labelled a goat and coffin Jonathan. Peter Obi is also a grandfather, but Omoyele Sowore in a viral video carpeted him two months ago. Perhaps, their civilization doesn’t recognize/respect the ‘elderliness’ of people of other tribes.
May daylight spare us!
*First published in Blueprint.