Nigerian politicians are boringly copy-cat in their attempt to present their personal ambitions as driven by the collective desire of the masses that need them as the ‘messiah’ to rescue the nation or their states from present quagmires. But a historical analysis of the approaches adopted by the non-creative political actors shows a combination of one or more of the following: arranged rally to call for a politician to contest; the lie by the politician(s) that it was the people who asked them to contest and ‘serve’ them; the presentation of the sought-out person as the sole messiah; and lately, the purchase of forms for millionaires-in-government by groups, who claimed to be independent of politics, for aspirants to continue the ‘good work’ of governing their states and Nigeria.
And so, arranged groups are trumped up to present ‘altruism’ to the ambition of selfish aspirants. They used the name of the vulnerable to purchase the forms: millions of poor Nigerians; the mothers who bear the brunt of bad governance; millions who have lost jobs; those who have been killed due to insecurity among others. Their sponsors also play their own part of the deal: they shed crocodile tears while receiving the form; they organise wonderful reception and use the opportunity to abuse those who defected from their party as weak and selfish since it is ‘Nigerians’ who now purchased forms for them. Hmm… Nigeria, we hail thee!
But among all aspirants, it was the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari who genuinely claimed to have entered politics on a rescue mission. At a point when his dream was frustrated, he also cried. But what is so important in purchase of forms which has been designed to convincingly exclude genuine agents of change from running for offices to govern their states and Nigeria? So, I ask so what if forms are purchased for you? The messiahs in the states and Aso Rock in the last four years have been on the throne but do existing data show that “things are getting better” as they sing in churches? I am afraid not. This is why it does not matter to the suffering Nigerians who purchased forms for whom- and who cried and who did not. They do not care if someone is ruling for four years or eight years or ruling on behalf of a zone or not. What they are interested in is someone who makes their lives better. They are not asking for too much. Are they?
Beautiful Nubia’s song becomes handy here in explaining social reality to those who think the purchase of forms is more important than the failed efforts at improving the indices that make the life of Nigerians better. In his song, ‘Tables Turn’, Beautiful Nubia standing on a dump site, a typical survival terrain of scavengers in Nigeria captures the mood of the poor. Constructed as ‘garbage men at work’, Beautiful Nubia shows how diligent young men and women are eking out a living, perhaps less concerned with form purchase anywhere. What is important to them is how ‘table will turn’. ‘Young man standing laughing but he knows where the shoes dey pain am so, he no fit do anything today but one day, the tables will turn’ typifies the ongoing insanity in the land and how the theatrics of form-buying failed to capture those suffering at the moment. Although smiling in pains, Nubia presents the hope of a future in which the table will turn. Symbolic here is the usage of table and the table setter. The one who sets the table and share the food ensures that the sitting arrangement is done to favour those who dine with the high and mighty as against those who are consigned to eat the crumbs. On this table, Beautiful Nubia locates children hawking on the streets of Nigeria ‘struggling hard to make ends meet’ and becoming child breadwinners but are arrested by urban renewal government that fails to take care of the vulnerable. These kids can’t do anything ‘but cry’ anticipating a changed table arrangement.
Again, on the Nigerian table, are the young ladies with sexy eyes selling their bodies so they can live and get by. To Beautiful Nubia, they can’t do anything either but worry one day the table will turn. On this unequal table are located unemployed youths, unpaid civil servants, displaced farming populace, emerging population of orphans, and students in higher institution whose parents cannot pay less than N50,000 fees and have to suspend their education. To those whose relatives die at our poorly equipped, death-health facilities, do purchase of forms matter to them? Similarly, do purchase of forms matter to those who spend billions of dollars to educate their children abroad because form-buyers failed to fund education and provide world class facilities and faculty?
To echo Beautiful Nubia again, this is ‘insanity’ in need of ‘sanity’. I wonder, as Nubia does, how some people have so much and not thinking of helping those who do not have but continue to feast on them. How the so-called ‘poor’ groups buy forms for millionaires must be disturbing to this lyrical genius. He notes that “the average man does not ask for too much; a safe place to lay his head at night, is that too much to ask? Beautiful Nubia continues, “He (average Nigerian) wants his kids to go to school so they can become somebody; he wants them to grow up healthy and strong. Is that too much to ask?” Let those crying or smiling receiving arranged bought nomination forms tell us what they have done to address the worries highlighted by Beautiful Nubia. If they cannot tell us how they have turned the table in these areas of education, health and insecurity, I am afraid, it is a wrong investment in them. Since they do not leave with the downtrodden to appreciate their pathetic conditions, Beautiful Nubia charges those receiving the million-naira forms to open their eyes “when you drive around in your fancy cars remember to think of the little man, cause one day, the table will turn”.
This optimistic revolutionary construction of approaching change of fortunes for the ordinary man is reassuring but only the downtrodden can change the table. Although lies, he noted, can run for generations, truth will prevail when the poor realise the power they possess to dismount incompetent leaders at all levels and enthrone via election those who will address their concerns and make their life goals a reality. So, the time is here for the Permanent Voter Card holders among the crying mothers, unemployed youths, scavenging boys and girls and the converted commercial sex-workers to bring sanity to the country.
While the narrative of the poor buying forms for the rich is logically sound for the politicians in their game, this begs the question about the insanity in the land. To turn around the table, only those who know where the present economic crunch has put them can make the turning of the table a reality in 2019 and this is only if they wish to. If the opportunity is missed again in 2019, it will take another four years before the opportunity to turn the table will come again.
Dr. Tade, a sociologist, sent this piece via [email protected]