Nigeria: Internally Displaced Politicians


Say what you will, Nigeria is in a class of its own. This geo-political space is notorious for perennial anomie, where Internally Displaced Politicians sit astride make-believe political divides and literally stroll from one party to the other, carrying their internally displaced followers in tow.

Alpha Party today, Omega Party tomorrow. No need for explanations. Erstwhile demons populating the other party suddenly become saints. The new entrant who had been described as a vagabond in years gone by is now rechristened 'beautiful bride'. You stress yourself if you express surprise. "What's your problem?" they would ask; "You want to take Panadol for another man's headache?"

I wish the issue was as easily dismissible as that, but we are talking about the soul of our country which is being played like ping-pong by a brood of soulless carpetbaggers whose claim to running the shop is that they showed up when the military was retreating while the rest of us played wait-and-see.

The least one would have expected after the musical chairs of the military was a democratic dispensation that would, in every objective analysis, be morally superior to what obtained in the first and second republics. In the First Republic, the Northern People's Congress (NPC) was a conservative regional party; the original National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC) appeared centrist while both the Action Group (AG) and the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) were social welfarist/leftist.

During the Second Republic, the NPN was unabashedly conservative/capitalist (and many capitalists without capital did make hay before the picnic came to grief). The UPN and PRP were, respectively, offshoots of AG and NEPU of the First Republic. NPP attempted to recreate the magic of NCNC, sitting somewhere in the middle of the ideological divide.

Today, all the parties -- with the possible exception of PRP -- appear to be the same. The only ideology that catches their fancy is the ideology of the stomach. This breed of nomadic politicians evokes military imagery, like soldiers in warfare crawling on their bellies from trench to trench. And those looking wistfully back at the pre-Buhari days display amnesia. If the PDP government had lived up to expectation, would Buhari have emerged?

Academics have been studying why human beings behave the way they do in the political space. Shola Omotola of FUOYE writes:

"Despite all pretences to the contrary through their manifestoes, as much as the superficial classifications as the "left" and "right", "progressive" and "conservative", Nigerian parties seem to be bereft of clear ideological commitments.

"This conclusion is predicated upon the relegation of politics of issues to the background across the various republics, and in its place the ascendancy of identity and money politics. Other factors include the rising magnitude of political vagrancy on the basis of selfish and parochial interests, the high level of party indiscipline, absence/weakness of party cohesion and internal democracy, and the high mortality and turnover of party leadership."

Nigeria's ruling party, the APC, recently treated the nation to its own drama scripted on the impossible mantra decreed by Lucifer himself: "A house divided against itself shall stand". How that plays out in the coming weeks and months is what the nation is waiting with bated breath to see.

Those who fail to interpret the sign of the times think that every dark cloud is a sign of rain. No! There are times when the clouds are almost hugging treetops, yet behind them lurks the blazing sun. And there are times when rains fall on a cloudless day.

If you understand my Swahili then, you will know that the issues we are talking about are larger than Oshiomole or Tinubu or President Buhari. The jostling for 2023 may have had a hand in the contrived dysfunction of APC's National Woking Committee, but the real issue is that the parties are not ideologically distinguishable the way you differentiate between Labour and the Conservatives in the UK, or Republicans and Democrats in the US.

So, people seek power for the sake of power. Some are selling political spare parts, others are mere political almajiris and several others still are beating borrowed Gangan drums. Don't be fooled by their sloganeering or 'populist' manifestoes. All they are selling are fairly used ideas grafted from the same source and penned at times by the same persons.

The word on the streets is that some elements in the party don't want the presidency to shift to the south in 2023 as dictated by the unwritten code of Turn-by-Turn-Nigeria-Limited. I am told that the plan is to instigate an implosion in APC and then encourage the northern candidate to be fielded by the PDP.

In effect, so the argument goes, the sell-by date of the alliance that birthed APC has expired. The next chapter is the display of unbelievable treachery and tunnel reasoning. Let the heavens fall if they must, but the presidency must not rotate to the south.

As all these permutations were being analysed on social media, the thought that kept running through my mind, surprisingly, was the fact that no prophet foresaw the present global lockdown, talk less of the machinations of Nigerian politicians. No Tarot foresaw what happened in Bayelsa and Imo. No Internally Displaced Politician remembers that today is the unsavoury tomorrow he spitefully underplayed yesterday.

Remember how some politicians stupidly spread the fake news of Zik's death in the Second Republic. Did we learn anything? The man you pronounce dead may yet attend your own funeral.

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