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For progress, you need to change the play not the players

By Jimanze Ego-Alowes
 
By general consensus there are two cadres of political parties at play in the Nigeria today. The first is made up of what we may call the status quo parties. These are the two big ticket game makers, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC).
 
What distinguishes the duo are not just that they are the default powers. More interestingly their flag bearers are all old men lusting after the hunting at the youthful turf of grabbing powers. Also for good or bad, largely for bad, these 2 flag bearers are directly or vicariously liable for the current state of the nation, politically. In a word, that Nigeria failed is because of what these men and their confederates did or didn’t do. For instance, despite APC’s and Buhari’s bold face on anti-corruption, it serves well to recall that Buhari was once a coup powered dictator. So what he did or didn’t do has additively driven the nation to where it is today. Of course PDP’s Atiku has in his time held high and mighty office too. So, his historical innocence if any is skin thin.
 
The second line cadre is made up of a motley list of challenger parties. And their leaders come in “coats of many colours.” There are one or two professors amongst them, self acclaimed economists, indeed all kinds.
 
However, their unique selling point is in a great part that they are not APC or PDP. In fact one of them puts it best. For her Buhari and Atiku are one and the same person – Butuku or such humorous coinage.
 
But is that really the case? In a sense yes. However, in a deeper level there is a caveat. That caveat is that amongst these new wave parties, nothing, repeat, nothing, really distinguishes their candidates from Buhari or Atiku.
 
Whether or not it is clear to them, at rock bottom, these non-Butiku presidential candidates, from Durotoye to Ezekwesili etc. are just modern, coffee table, editions of Atiku or Buhari. Their differences, if any, are about a spectrum of choices, same choices, and not about a displacement of choices. Save for fancier grammar, it is not exactly clear in what sense any of these persons come different from Atiku or Buhari. Yes, they did be less nepotistic but they will leave untouched the framework upon which nepotism is built. They don’t want to disrupt that. And lest we forget, to the extent Buhari is nepotistic is derived from not just his personal foibles, but from those inherent in the constitution. In other words, Nigeria does not need a less nepotistic person as president. Nigeria needs a working framework whereby it will be self-disenabling to want to be nepotistic. The fact of this, of designing nepotism out of the polity, is what built America into a great and a mighty nation. American [and indeed Western] presidents are not necessarily nicer kids, no. It is just that their constitutions force their hands. Aspects of this revelation has been explained in my latest book: The University-Media Complex: As Nigeria’s Foremost Amusement Chain. Point is, we need upright systems not ramrod persons.
 
However, within this list of third wavers there are exceptions, even if marginal ones. The first must be Omoyele Sowore. There is no doubt Sowore is a new kind of candidate. His only big issue is that he is serious, he is disruptive, but only about little matters. For instance Sowore is pushing the novel, if fanciful idea, of turning Nigeria into blooming green fields, with commercial marijuana. And he promises to get the Nigerian workers going on a minimum wage of 100,000.00 naira only.
 
The larger point is that he is constricted in the same old status quo view. And it is the same view that drives Atiku and Buhari. This is Sowore’s dominant failure. The point is that since the ill fated and nation killing events/regime of Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu/General Jack Gowon, the false and forged narrative has been sold to Nigerians. It is that the problem is in giving Nigerians a full stomach each and a famished brain to match. In other words, for the status quo class, with a full stomach what do you need your brains again for? This is the same deceit a Sowore inadvertently or otherwise buys into.
 
Of course a key part of the sentimentality of the status quo powers is this.
 
1. That Nigeria has all it takes, in terms of natural endowments and human capital to become a great and mighty nation.
 
2. That what is holding Nigeria back is leadership. In other words that given the right leadership, Nigeria is on its way to being an America under the African sun. But that I can confess is a scam, possibly the most successful status quo sponsored scam, since the Trojan Horse. Or June 12?
 
This again is where Sowore as the best of the rot fails. The great young man has been seduced. He has fallen into the gregarious errors sponsored by Gowonism. It is that it is food, the banquets and our stomachs and not ideas, not justice, that unite a composite people. The larger point is this that this policy framework has informed all successive governments since Gowon. In other words, since Gowon there has not been any change of political parties or even persons in Nigeria. Yes, it is true that sometimes they come as thugs, coup makers, poets, imams, popes, feint geniuses, fools, humorists, Alibabas and the many thieves, etc. But the fact remains that taken together, they are one dominant strain – of themselves and their viruses, politically speaking.
 
But no lie endures forever. And it is possible things are about to change. Here comes Ahmed Buhari. And the chap was out on Channels Sunrise Show, 8-12-2018. We have never quite heard of him. Whether he is a fringe of the fringe is not clear. But boy he has courage, the courage of a bandit, but in service
of paradise. It is the type we have never seen in any young Nigerian certainly not amongst the non-Butiku candidates. His central concern is as much as I could get from the interview about Nigerian as an existent. For him we have to come together and be a people not over banquets and morsels. For him we have to come together as a people of shared sense of justice, fairness and open admittance to historical errors. And there has been plenty of these.
 
Walking the minefields further, he stated point blank that the civil war, which was triggered by Gowon as a disguise for his pet program of genocide was unnecessary. And charged further, the nation should apologize to the Igbo. And to buttress his points he points to Rwanda. Rwanda he educated us is a country which suffered genocide and civil war just a couple of historical days ago. But now after coming clean with one another and each party admitting its guilt and apologizing, Rwandans have moved forward. Today, he implied, Rwanda is a country that is the model for economic development and composite existential unity. Disruption does not come greater than this. If there is any new voice in Nigerian presidential politics today then that voice is and belongs to Ahmed Buhari. Buhari by the way is no relation of the sitting potentate.
 
Lest we forget, it is important we state we are reconstructing his words and its implications. We are not quoting him verbatim. But we believe all we reported is the essence and logic of what he said openly on Channels.
 
One other observation to make is that immediately he was about this point, the Channels anchors, kind of hushed him up. Why do we say this? It is that we have noticed that there is a general reluctance by “other” Nigerians to discuss the civil war and what and who went wrong ala Rwanda. All they prefer is the forged tale of Gowon and gowonism, which like a victor’s tale is a lie reinforced by guns and thunder. And to sustain this gowonic lie, history the science of history had to be abolished as a Nigerian specialty. Now we live in a futureless past or is it a pastless future? Yet, we dream we can develop the future without its pasts, we can stand the Iroko without its roots?
 
In other words it is upon this historical amnesia or incapacity to challenge evident evil that all these third wavers – Sowore, Ezekwesili etc – are posturing as being heroic. That is to say their heroism is the heroism of thinking that a full stomach is a higher state of beingness, than being in justice for all. That if you fed us fools with full stomachs we are we did forget our pasts.
 
If that were all their error we would have been dying to help elect any of these third wave presidential candidates. More troubling is their unknowing. It goes like this. If through historical amnesia or mental cowardice, they approve or acquiesce of genocide as conducted and exacted by Gowon (and Awolowo his spokesman on that), then the following. If genocide which is the worst form of human corruption is allowed, then all is now permitted. By the way corruption has a root meaning of robbery and debasement of our values and humanity.
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