By Oluremi Kosoko
It has become prosaic to speak of the next elections in Nigeria as akin to drinking at the last chance saloon; if not the last, at the very least the most likely opportunity to either sink or refloat the country. Given our dire straits, it is fair comment to say that sense of foreboding has rarely been as compelling as it is now.
Politicians are nothing if not bombastic; exuberance and overreaching declamations are their currency of preference. We are only on the cusp of party primaries, and I for one have already had a bellyful of the cant that has been on offer. And yet, there is more to come.
Underwhelmed by the fare on offer, one cannot but contemplate the paucity of our party politics, as evidenced by the never-ending toing and froing.
The very idea of party politics as reflective of a set of commonly held ideological, social and economic precepts is unknown to our polity. Our alphabet soup of political parties is best described as six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Discourse has rarely risen above the base and banal. We are left to our own devices in seeking to discern what lies behind the many masks on display. An unfortunate precedent for presidential primaries is being set; surely in future all manner of undesirables will lay siege to us with claims to being presidential material, with the bar set so low.
Nigeria is a land of paradoxes. Its affairs are in such a parlous state that, ordinarily, one would feel that the greater the choice, the more likely that the people will get what the nation so desperately needs. Sadly, that is not the case.
The rogue’s gallery of “aspirants” is as much a testament to our self-deceit as it is a celebration of choice. With three dozen or more candidates, the race looks more like a line-up than a beacon of hope.
Many departed before the race began. Having tested the waters and found them at best tepid, the likes of Jonathan, Emefiele and Adesina decided that a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.
Others, knowing that unheralded benefactors were willing to bear the burden of the larcenous entry fee, were happy to look to a future in which they can be introduced as “a one-time presidential candidate”.
Others still sought safety from the long arm of the law by seeking to coat their calumny in the radiance of the pursuit of the highest office in the land. And, I do not only refer to the loquacious gentleman who suffered the ignominy of unwanted guests entering his bedroom through the ceiling.
Then there are those whose records in their earlier incarnations were so abysmal that in rewriting of history, they have so burnished their performance that we are left confounded by the fantastical nature of their rebirth.
Our politicians have grown so accustomed to the falsehoods they spew that they no longer believe in truth, and they hope that we no longer recognize truth.
From national leaders to leading nuisances, tragedy is played out comedically. We are asked to disbelieve the evidence of our own eyes and, if we insist that our eyes do not deceive us, we are told that brain without brawn is the soup de jour.
On the other side of that coin is a candidate who chose to introduce his candidacy by intermittently breaking into a jog in a stadium. You couldn’t invent this farce!
We must not overlook those whose overweening ambition has led them into contortions that defy our nation’s contemporary imperatives, making light of the continued need to balance north and south. From serving and servile Senate Presidents to previous and pernicious ones, we are asked to turn the other cheek.
For the time being, the way our polity is ordered, come May 29th 2023, the President of the Federal Republic that will be sworn in will likely be from the APC or the PDP; it will not always be so, but for now it is so. What are we then to make of this Hobson’s Choice? Where you presently are is the primary determinant of what next steps must be taken.
The afflictions of our country are coalescing in a perfect storm of pending disaster. A near-total absence of integrity; an excess of public piety masking private perdition; an inability to separate the public purse from personal avarice; the impunity with which the rule of law is held in disregard by low and high alike; the breakdown of law and order resulting in ever expanding ungoverned spaces; the inability of government to bring to fruition policies that alleviate the degraded circumstances of the overwhelming majority of the populace; an inability to provide basic twentieth century infrastructure, not to speak of what the twenty-first century calls for; and, a prevailing sense of desolation and despair.
Turning the ship of state around so that we can commence the journey of repair, rehabilitation and renaissance is not a job for one man, and not a job for one presidency. It is, however, a job that can be commenced now. No one candidate possesses all that is required but I truly believe that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is the closest we have to a round peg.
Understandably, we have become cynical and unwilling to believe in sincerity of purpose. Man’s natural state is to hope and thrive for better and to be better.
Yemi Osinbajo is a very intentional politician, and in that lies more than a measure of hope. He has the ability to be the kernel of a renewed Nigeria. Let us go forward boldly, embracing our better angels and looking to a nation that can set itself on an irrevocable path to self realisation, for itself and for Africa.
Oluremi Kosoko write from Lagos