By Promise Adiele
Art is a realm of knowledge characterized by intricate, interwoven, overlapping dependencies which can only be accessed by a few people. The muse is inexorably located in the exalted realm of art. However, the uninitiated, owing to obvious limitations, is content with guesswork and sterile justification of misplaced muse which sometimes calls to question the rational status of a person’s mental process. The muse is primarily understood as that moment of inspiration in art which goads the artist to profound submission. Originally, the Muse in Greek mythology is one of the nine goddesses of inspiration responsible for poetry, prose, and other forms of creativity. In speech or writing, one can become a victim of the muse and be inspired to reveal what was hitherto hidden in the subconscious. During the recent Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference in Lagos, Kashim Shettima, the APC presidential running mate, became a victim of the muse in the most disreputable manner. Shockingly, many Nigerians praised him for his oratory during the convention much to the dismay of conscientious observers. Beyond all the grammatical infelicities, faulty submissions, and lack of factual accuracy in his speech, one of his submissions stuck out like a sore thumb. That submission and others are the subject of this essay.
Shettima had unapologetically avowed that in the remote event he becomes the Vice-President of Nigeria, he would be in charge of security while his principal Bola Tinubu will be in charge of the economy. That submission should concern every well-meaning Nigerian irrespective of political leaning. Unfortunately, Bola Tinubu and his camp are playing the ostrich over the statement, treating it with condemnable levity and undermining its insidious, treasonably potential. They have failed to condemn Shettima’s obvious insubordination of the office of the president in the very unlikely event that they find their way to Aso Rock. I have watched a video where the same Shettima vehemently and angrily condemned restructuring, wearing that trademark vexatious look of his. According to him “restructuring my foot”. Remember that Bola Tinubu promised Nigerians that he would restructure the country if elected as the president. Therefore, Nigerians are saddled with a presidential aspirant and a running mate who are at variance in terms of ideology, speaking at cross-purposes. Such an imprecise ideological dilemma is inherent in dysfunctional, power-hungry, desperate political actors. Can Nigeria afford that level of dissonance in the power corridors given all the years of anguish under APC? Wahala dey o!
As Shettima mounted the podium to make his speech during the NBA conference, one thing which has become the hallmark of his appearance was clear – his combative, pugnacious disposition like someone going to engage in a fist cuff with another. Wearing that trademark frown on his face, Shettima spewed half-truths and composite falsehoods with gusto, and a disabling passion that promotes self-interest. Yet, many Nigerians applauded him for a brilliant performance. Something is indeed wrong with our collective assessment of the intellect. I am not bothered about such comical issues as his dressing which of course overshadowed his more implicating failings during the conference. Rather I am bothered about his submission to be the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces while his principal will be in charge of the economy. Ordinarily, Bola Tinubu should have dropped him immediately after that open submission, but no, Tinubu wouldn’t mind being unsubordinated as long as he answers Nigeria’s president even for one day. That is the regrettable nature of inordinate, vaunting ambition. By ignoring Shettima’s treachery and misprision, Bola Tinubu has failed to concern his much-touted political flourishes with the nation’s immediate somatic life and that is an insincere attitude.
Also, Shettima had shamelessly admitted that as the Vice-President he would canvass for more funding for security in the country, yet some people applauded such impudence as an oratory. Perhaps Shettima is not aware that Nigeria’s defence budget increased since 2015 by up to 66% yet insecurity rose exponentially over that same period. In 2020, Nigeria spent $2.57 billion on security and what is the result? Therefore it will be preposterous for anyone of good intentions to ask for an increment in the security budget of the country when other sectors like education and healthcare are suffering untold neglect. In a moment of sacrilegious impunity and devastating irony, he quoted the late Nigerian literary sage Chinua Achebe, who I am sure, turned in his grave at such misplaced re-ordering of ideas. If the problem with Nigeria is leadership, is APC the answer seeing that the current administration was foisted on Nigerians by Bola Tinubu? By quoting Achebe that “the problem with Nigeria is leadership”, Shettima was of course indicting the Nigerian leadership held firmly by APC’s stale misrule in the last seven and half years. If the problem with Nigeria is leadership, APC and PDP, twin brothers of the same deformed parentage, should cover their faces in shame and apologise to Nigerians for trammelling the country for twenty-three years. If the problem with Nigeria is leadership, Shettima shouldn’t be canvassing for votes under a political party like APC that has ushered the country into the league of the poorest, security-challenged nations of the world.
Again, Shettima rattled the audience when he avowed that Lagos is the third largest economy in Africa. He also added that Lagos State had only one ambulance before Bola Tinubu became the governor. The problem with falsehood of such magnitude is that it gradually acquires monstrous shadows and becomes accepted as the truth. Such falsehood can insert delusory titillation into the collective sensibilities of the entire nation. It can challenge reason as the cornerstone of immaterial faculties. That is why some people exercise their sense of reason in socio-political discourse through the anus while the brain is deployed to mundane pastimes. Falsehood is dangerous. Although we acknowledge that Lagos has always been a vibrant city for many years as Nigeria’s political and economic capital, some people, through insolence mischief, summarily appropriate the development of the city to themselves. Nothing can be more jejune. We must guide against undermining moral values in the quest for political power although some people conceive politics as a dirty game, an immoral indulgence for power-hungry people. I disagree. Power requires the ability to anatomize the intentions of the beholder but only when such power is legitimately or conveniently acquired because certain forms of power lack legitimacy.
When I was in secondary school, my Government teacher, Mr Afonneka of blessed memory, (not many of us can remember the names of their teachers, including some presidential aspirants) taught us about the Separation of Powers. Under the presidential system of government, there is a clear explanation of the powers of the president and that of his vice. Security is the exclusive official responsibility of the president. But Shettima is thinking differently. Does anyone imagine for a second that Shettima is alone in this line of thought? Bola Tinubu should be worried about this kind of invidious, treasonable submission by the man he chose as his running mate. What was Shettima telling Nigerians? Why on earth would he think that it is his responsibility to lead the troops while Tinubu will be in charge of the economy? So Shettima has already separated powers even before getting into office? God help Nigerians if such a character takes charge of security in the country.
The Shettima submission should worry Nigerians. It should worry the APC family. It should worry Bola Tinubu and it should worry the international community. Based on the hellish experience of the past seven and half years under APC, the party has a very narrow chance of emerging victorious in next year’s presidential election, yet we must examine all the possibilities in politics with an open mind. Could Shettima’s avowal be a case of a Freudian slip? According to Ola Rotimi in his classic play, The Gods Are Not To Blame, “it is what is in the heart when there is no wine in the head that comes out when there is wine in the head”. King Odewale made that statement while responding to a suggestion by Alaka that a certain man had too much wine in his head and therefore should be ignored. Nigerians should take note. Or could it be that Bola Tinubu struck a deal with Shettima and the North over official responsibilities? Given all the reports about his involvement with terrorists and romance with bandits, it should concern any well-meaning Nigerian that Shettima is angling to be in charge of the country’s security apparatus. Indeed, the muse can sometimes force out a subconscious reality, but can it also inspire someone to propagate falsehood? Let Nigerians gather here and thank the muse for a revelation that will guide how they vote next year.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University