“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction,” Winston Churchill.
Every election cycle throws up its own tale. And for a variegated nation such as ours where egos, culture and tribe intermix with the heres and nows of hunger and belief, we enjoy a treasure trove. No one can tell all the stories of this year’s poll in one seminal sway of prose. Too many riches of intrigues, manoeuvres, permutations, forays and parries. They at once sour and sweeten the narratives.
As political philosophers contend, every election, like capitalism, has its own three Cs. For capitalism, it is cars, condos and credit cards. For election, it is candidate, condition and culture. Both have C’s as if cacophony, in all its abrasiveness, contains the sound of life. In capitalism, it captures our workaday rhythm. And in politics it is a concatenation of the way we vote with its consequences. Through this triad, we can put the past month in perspective.
It’s drum roll for winners and sepulchral tunes for the others. Some Irokos have crestfallen, ants have bitten off giants, egos deflated, some others had squeaked to victory while a few walked in majesty to wins. Bitterness has shone darkly in some quarters. For instance, some editorialists, commentators and editors have not recovered from Atiku’s beating, and continue to spew sour grapes in headlines and tendentious ideas disguised as reasoned opinions. Some politicians are sulking in silence. A few who won by brigandage are savouring savage joys. Some won by default and may recall Joseph Conrad’s words in Heart of Darkness that “our strengths are accidents arising from the weaknesses of others.” Some are moaning over wasted investments, while winners are swooning to the cash hauls ahead. Fulminating social media rodents have crept into curious silences, this column being a target of quite an army of malicious tirades over the past half year. They should have congratulated me for seeing the future they didn’t know. But like Churchill, I am magnanimous in victory. Not political victory, but intellectual victory, the sort of thrill you get for rewards for the labours of the mind.
Today, I excavate a few narratives of the past polls. Here I try to look at a few of such in an unusual format for In Touch.
The word decapitate literally means ‘to behead.’ In that sense, it may not apply to Ibikunle Amosun of the heavenly cap. We may not rightly call his fetishised headgear a ‘skycap’ because it describes bag carriers at airports. But by the liberty that language confers, I can say that the governor of Ogun State was deCAPitated. That cap was meant to compete with the sky, so it was his sky cap, not skycap. Now in one fell swoop, Dapo Abiodun, who is taller than Amosun even with his cap on, has cut him to size. In other words, Amosun was CAP-sized. Abiodun’s triumph was the humbling of Amosun’s cap, which is a measure of his delusion of grandeur.
From firewood seller to Marshall Plan governor
In evangelising his virtues as his successor, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima waxed lyrical. Professor Babagana Umara Zulum was not his closest friend. He was not a party wheel horse. He was in the words of Shakespeare, “cometh the man, cometh the hour.” Prof Zulum was, to follow the cliché, a self-made man. He was a grass roots man by upbringing. Though a professor today, he did menial jobs to fund his education, including selling firewood and driving taxi. His is a life of industry and perseverance, which are recipes for empathy. But he did not flaunt or make an extravaganza of this humble start, Jonathan-style. He did not even act out what Conrad calls “proud humility.” He did his job. He became the commissioner for reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement after the Boko Haram goons were routed back to their lairs. But the terrain was perilous and he embedded himself in underbellies of subaltern Borno that still crawled with bombs and militants. When Governor Shettima asked him to travel in bullet-proof vans, he turned it down saying he wanted to be as vulnerable as others in the trenches with him. Now, he will take charge as governor unlike General George Marshall, who retired as secretary of state.
Okorocha’s Iberiberism minus Hope = Ihedioha
Rochas Okorocha had become too familiar with power. He taught he was big enough not only to erect monument to failing foreigner but he wanted to turn Imo State house into his family nest. So, he wanted to foist Nwosu as governorship candidate on his APC. In this pursuit, he defied party chieftains, decorum and decency, and even the stirrings of Imo soul. He wanted to be deified, perhaps with a statue like the one he erected with moral dysfunction.
So, he set his in-law as candidate of his default party against Hope Uzodinma of his APC. Between them they polled enough numbers to win. But they split the votes and allowed soft-talking gentleman Emeka Ihedioha to play Bill Clinton at the polls. A house divided against itself in Imo was Ihedioha’s divine platform to the Government House. His foes fought so he could be free. Ross Perot became an independent candidate and split the Republican votes to hand the presidency to a man from a town called Hope.
We should not forget that Okorocha will be the first person in history of this country who will be declared winner of an election to the Senate but who would not attend the ceremony to receive the certificate of return. Okorocha returns home. It is still curious what happened there since INEC has yet to tell the nation the full story of how a man who could not family-arise the Government House has kept mum over his non-victory. He delivered neither himself nor his successor. Iberiberism struck him back like a cobra.
The Kaduna megaphone
Nasir El-Rufai was a loudmouth in his first term. Now that he has nobody to account to, how much cacophony awaits our eardrums? The man who threatened other countries with Armageddon, talked hegemony about the Fulani, undermined logic, divided Muslims and Christians, denigrated the Pope in explaining why he did not pick a Christian as deputy. This same man would have been an entertainer if he were not governor, like a dark and scary minstrel.
With his dwarf frame and almost imperturbable mien, El-Rufai refreshes like garlic on a wounded tongue. This man who bulldozed two senators out of town cannot be said not to have done well in governance in other areas, including education where his implementation of the feeding programme gained traction as well as tackling of the al majiri programme. But governance is as much about decency as in putting food on the table. Here’s hoping that the man will abandon his juvenile spirit for a mature temperament. Or else he might leave the state broken and ablaze.
Culled from The Nation