All in the name of politics?

Dr Promise Adiele


By Promise Adiele

There are different notions and interpretive kernels of politics. However, for the sake of this essay, let us stick with politics as a universal routine which empowers people, sometimes through the instrumentality of election, to participate in the governance process in their country. We can also understand politics as the aggregation of interests to control and retain power, authority, and influence within a geographical space. Given its multifaceted, hydra-headed, complex anatomy, politics is easily located within sub-categories such as the family, clan, village and office. For unfathomable, abstruse reasons, politics does not require any form of expertise, therefore it freely accommodates the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a way, the credentials and qualifications to be a successful politician gravitate more towards vices such as dubiety, subterfuge, uncontrollable appetite for filthy lucre, and diverse dishonourable attitudes. In many countries of the world, they see politics as a smeared, putrid chamber of criminality which provides a haven for the morally sullied. With developments in Nigeria, one can rightly argue that politics provides a shield and legitimacy for certified felons.

Given its contagious nature, when otherwise virtuous people get involved in politics, they are immediately contaminated and assume a double-faced, duplicate identity. Those who argue that politics and religion cannot mix may be right because politics can turn the religious man into a lying, misleading, double dealer. Can the religious and spiritually inclined be successfully involved in politics and still retain their sanctity? In T.S Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett thought he could combine religious duties with politics under King Henry 11. While serving as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett also accepted to serve as a Chancellor in England. Conflict inevitably arose between Beckett and the King. Beckett went on exile for seven years in France and on his return, four knights, ostensibly sent by the King, brutally murder him in the cathedral. That is the way of politics. But if the morally decent stay away from politics, the wicked take over and flourish. Perhaps that explains why the Holy book warns us in Proverbs 29:2 that “when a wicked man rules, the people groan”. The question is – are righteousness, honesty, and forthrightness alien realities to political participation? Does politics only gratify the decadent and repel the principled person?

Once again, Nigerian politics in the current era has reinforced the narrative that politics can turn the otherwise man of wisdom into an inconsequential moron. In the name of politics, people you would ordinarily ascribe a measure of respect act shamelessly clinging to a sectional, divisive, perverted mindset. It confounds every sense of acuity that many Nigerians, hiding behind the façade of different considerations endorse criminals and legitimize immorality – all in the name of politics. If a certified criminal with verifiable evidence of villainous indulgence declares interest in a public office, many Nigerians will queue up in support.

If someone who serially plundered public office and enriched himself through acts of criminality shows interest in public office, supporters will surely emerge. If a certified internet fraudster utilizes proceeds of crime to assist a few people, then we must endorse and compensate him with a public office – he is generous. I once wrote an essay titled “Nigeria: Hushpuppi for President” (Google please). In the essay, I argued that given the trend in Nigeria where criminals become political heroes, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi stands a good chance to context for public office any time he returns to Nigeria.  Millions of people will support him. That is the unfortunate way of politics.

If a known, certified drug lord succeeds through the proceeds of crime and climbs the political ladder, we must all throw morality to the dustbin and lend our support, invoking the spirit of God through prayers and fasting to help him succeed – all in the name of politics. If a known terrorist, after feeding fat from the blood of the innocent through heavy ransom jumps into politics, he is our man, let’s welcome him with open arms. Armed robbers, rogues of a different complexion, and broad daylight thieves are not left out. Kidnappers and ritualists are all welcome. We must show support for these people and ignore their despicable history. Any attempt to profile them must be resisted by the force of thunder. That is why I think Evans the kidnapper was not very intelligent. I once wrote an essay titled “Evans the kidnapper and the rest of us” (Google please). In the essay, I argued that if Evans was smart with all the millions of dollars he realized from kidnapping, he would have been in the National Assembly, House of Assembly or even become a governor or president but he was not smart. Did former president Olusegun Obasanjo not submit that our National Assembly is populated by rogues and armed robbers? Obasanjo couldn’t have been joking.

Today, take a critical, incisive look at those jostling to occupy the National Assembly and various Government Houses as governors across the country. Many of them have fat criminal files with EFCC. Take a critical, unbiased look at all the presidential hopefuls, what do you find, be honest to yourself, what do you exactly find? But we are encouraged to look away from these anomalous developments and support them, all in the name of politics. We are encouraged to applaud the out-going Buhari government after practically liquidating the Nigerian economy and plunging the country into a bleak future through colossal debt. Tragically, those who should oppose the enthronement of criminal vices in the country are mounting the banner of support for pecuniary reasons or other nebulous considerations. We may not appreciate the dilapidating effect of this composite endorsement of criminality in the name of politics, but assuredly, it is entrenched in the body politic, and will inevitably corrode our sense of decency.

Our law enforcement agents are only struggling to sustain their waning relevance by preying on small-time criminals while the bigger criminals are protected as they trot majestically along our political corridors. I once wrote an essay titled “Scrap EFCC now’ (Google please). In the essay, I bemoaned the EFCC’s practice of running after internet fraudsters while public officers and politicians who impoverished and annihilated our patrimony through acts of theft and brigandage are celebrated. I am thinking about writing another essay “Scrap NDLEA now”. For me, it is unjustifiable for the NDLEA to arrest petty drug hustlers while ignoring their big bosses, even with video evidence of drug transactions.

Our law enforcement agents are only struggling to sustain their waning relevance by preying on small-time criminals while the bigger criminals are protected as they trot majestically along our political corridors.

With Nigeria’s current political experience, it does appear truth is dead and the funeral will hold soon. We may not hold the funeral for truth soon because a few people still stand by the side of truth despite intimidation and at the risk of their lives, regardless of ethnic or religious inclinations. Any country where a gang of certified criminals preside over its affairs is doomed. Those who support and endorse them are also doomed. Like pregnancy, the obvious signs of criminal leadership and politics of patronage will manifest soon unless truth aborts it. Truth must become the weapon to abort the insanity of criminal leadership. The truth of Nigeria’s last election must be told, not in hushed tones but over the rooftop. The US has reacted by slamming visa bans on those who encouraged electoral fraud in the last election. More countries will react accordingly soon.

I understand the reality that Nigerians, crippled by poverty and lack, are inexorably predisposed to compromise. Consequently, they are inebriated by crumbs from the tables of criminals, yet, the truth must be told no matter whose ox is gored. Public consciousness is consistently injured by the bleeding hypocrisy and falsehood that inundate various WhatsApp and other social media platforms daily. It is mournful to see educated people, Christians, Muslims, and public figures of some repute queue up to defend and support false rhetoric all in the name of politics. Our children are watching or do we think they are not watching? Gradually, we will lose the right to admonish them against vices like internet fraud, drug abuse, pilfering, and many other criminal attitudes. The truth we refuse to tell today will surely haunt our children tomorrow. The evil we plant today will surely bear fruit tomorrow unless there is a radical reaction to uproot the vile edifice of corrupt leadership.

Promise Adiele PhD

Mountain Top University

Twitter: Drpee4