I am sitting here, in a friend’s office, and somehow, my mind is on the elections that are going to be held next year, instead of what I came here to do, which is to see someone.
While I wait for my host, I am going to ruminate on the latest round of defections and cross carpetings that are fast becoming a regular feature of our political landscape in the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
Of course, it is no longer news that the Senate president has defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, in a move that I have seen a so-called political pundit or two refer to as a huge blow. But I, personally, and you too, dear reader (I’m sure), are not fooled.
Politics in Nigeria has never been about ideologies or policies. There is only one language spoken by the political class in this country speak and understand, and that is power.
Political power, and the perpetuation and concentration of that power in the hands of a chosen few, regardless of party affiliations or the colours and designs of the flag they fly.
That is why a Nigerian politician can contest primaries in one party, and having been denied or unsuccessful in his quest, can cross the carpet and change party affiliation with the speed of a chameleon changing colour, and upon crossing he will be welcomed with open arms by his new party, because of what he brings to the table: a fat purse, probably swollen from the funds collected and yet to be expended on the constituency projects they were originally meant for.
Imagine with me, if you will, a party convention in the United States, whether Republicans or Democrats, and someone from the opposing party sauntering in, claiming to have decamped from his party, and coming to the other party to contest for the primaries for an elective office. Imagine the scorn and the laughter, derision piling up on itself as the fellow finishes making his declaration.
You know why? Very simple. In saner climes, politics, and political affiliations are usually defined on an ideological basis. Everyone knows what the Democrats stand for, and what the republicans stand for.
And depending on the state of the economy, or that of the country, and how well the policies and strategies of the ruling party have inspired trust, (or the lack thereof) in the populace, when it is election time, the largely undecided majority who have no strong ties to either side are sensitized, and they cast their votes accordingly, and the party in power either voted out, or given a second term to continue the business they began in the first term.
And one of the great misfortunes of our political space is the fact that lawmakers earn so much, for seemingly doing so little. There are lawmakers whose voices have never been heard for the entirety of the four year term they spent in the house, that is to say, they have neither made motions to make laws, nor made motions to counter illogical laws made, and yet, somehow, their salaries, allowances and other emoluments have not stopped flowing. What do we say to such useless people who merely take up space in the house when they even deign to put in an appearance? In saner climes, in saner climes, this lament of mine is getting cliché.
Now, as it happens, in a country that doesn’t tire to shock, terrify, and frighten, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, ex APC stalwart and recent turncoat, has been appointed the national leader of the People’s Democratic Party.
In all fairness, it may be a wise move strategically, and it goes a long way towards setting the tone for the elections to take place next year. With this single move, it may just turn out to be a PDP versus APC election, much like it was the last time, and much like it has always been, one side against the other, and yet both sides exchanging members all the time, making a mockery of the democratic process, and ultimately, laughing in the face o the will of the people.
But then, is there a better option? I guess not. But until the upright start being interested in politics and the governance of our land, and until the political process becomes free of godfatherism, kickbacks, and a culture of enrichment, we are all here for the ride.
But what I personally want, is for the so-called political consciousness that was touted as the reason for Jonathan’s loss, to also rise, and evict the current occupants of Aso Rock.