Written by Shaba Mafu
“The rain that beat Africa began four to five hundred years ago, from ‘the discovery’ of Africa by Europe, through the trans-Atlantic Slave trade to the Berlin Conference of 1885. That controversial gathering of the World’s leading European powers precipitated what we now call the Scramble for Africa, which created new boundaries that did violence to Africa’s ancient societies and resulted in tension-prone modern states.
It took place without Africa’s consultation, to say the least. Great Britain was handed the area of West Africa that would later become Nigeria, like a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party”. (Achebe C: 2012, There Was A Country.).
The above assertion about the enduring pains caused by the European enslavement of Africa through their many programmes of underdevelopment has stood the test of time, as Africa, Nigeria in particular, has not recovered from the devastating effect of the European’s manifest atrocities.
The violence and lack of proper thinking bequeathed on the Nigerian society have also stood out as one of the heritages of the properly orchestrated evil of the serial oppressors. This ‘legacy’ has birthed untold hardships on the citizens’ psyche in nearly all the endeavours of life till date. Prior to the needless incursion of the European explorers and exploiters, Africans lived in communalism, in peace and harmony fostered by nature and ageless tradition.
But since the ‘discovery’, yes the “discovery” of what had even transcended the existence of Europe, by the Europeans themselves, most of the atrocious legacies bequeathed by the usurpers may have been eroded with time save that of gullibility by the impoverished governed and by the subterfuge of those who govern. This is now the replica and the elongated indigenous faction of the European system that trended in the era of serial iniquities of the European overlords, targeted against the “Black, uncivilized and uncultured Africans living in a dark continent”, in their own definition. Nigeria was carved out as a principal victim of this continental absurdity.
The typical Nigerian politician is as crafty as those who brought modern politics to bear on the African soil. Their subterfuge has advanced to the level that they now tutor those with the patent right of this deadly machination. A Nigerian politician cannot be termed as a true politician if he does not apply a sophisticated level of deception on those he is craftily looking for their support in the bid to gain power to steal from the public coffers.
Those who, like the devil had craftily employed this whim have been applauded for years for their ‘political dexterity’ because they could successfully swindle the impoverished minds of the electorates. A typical Nigerian politician is as slippery as the eel. There was a popular man in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria, who was very good in this artistry. He was highly manipulative and talked with the two sides of his mouth almost simultaneously. Despite the demise of this man, his name and fame remain unequalled to this date when it comes to manipulative expertise in the political space. Despite the fact that he was semi-literate in Western education, his manipulations brought him enormous wealth.
His name has become a proverb in the political parlance in the country. Whoever can successfully swindle others to get a particular political advantage (obviously to the detriment of the voting public) was usually called that name. More unfortunately so, crafty souls in Nigeria’s political world are also revered and called Maradona. It is a common knowledge that the legendary Argentine Diego Maradona, one of the world’s finest footballers, scored a football into a goal post during the 1986 FIFA World Cup competition in the most cunning way, that it took the deployment and application of highly sophisticated scientific gadget to unveil his “divine” craftiness. When he was eventually caught, he defended his action and ultimately branded his ill-gotten popularity by craftiness, as the “Hand of God”, that is, it was the Hand of God that scored the goal. This is comparatively the level of decadence the politicians have grown into in Nigeria. They mystify, glorify and deify their evil deeds.
On the other hand, the Nigerian electorates have been so pauperized that the only option left for them to survive is to be dragged by the nose by the politicians to do the latter’s bidding. The pauperism of the voting populace has become a deliberate policy of those who rule so as to whittle down any possible revolution or to prevent a dire quest for accountability of their stewardship. Close to election periods, candidates of political positions, particularly those who seek a second term in office deliberately (but tacitly) commit abominations to those they intended to imprison further if elected for the second term. One of the atrocities usually committed against the populace is that, besides placing an embargo on employment upon assuming their positions after winning the elections on their first term, they would wittingly stop paying the salaries of those who were ‘lucky’ to be in their employ. When another round of elections is drawing near, and particularly during their campaigns, they climb the podium and tell their employees who are part of the voting populace that they (the contestants) have directed the Ministry of Finance to release three months salary arrears which is part of the twelve months salaries owed the workers, to be paid with immediate effect. The immediacy applied in the circumstance would appear if they had the best interest of the electorates at heart. But it is actually grand deceit from their twisted minds and consciences. Regrettably, the spontaneous claps that will rent the air and the ovation that would greet these deceivers by the electorates will beat the imagination of a normal discerning heart … but this has become the avoidable fate of an emasculated populace, dejected employees, and ravaged victims of political rapists. This has also further revealed how hollow and empty the citizenry have been left to be. The politician will continue by making empty promises of what he would do when he is again elected. He then goes on to emphasize his seriousness on this by raining thunderous abuses on his opponents to score cheap political points. After the noises, he directs those with the official parcels brought to the campaign ground to dole out some packaged grains of rice, and possibly some few Naira notes to his castrated victims in order to seal up their present and continuous doom.
The electorates go back home chanting and deifying the rogues who have stolen their future in advance. The insults hurled on the opponents would be turned to a melodious song composed by an Artiste, a member of the voting population and would be sung throughout the campaign period.. This is where we have found ourselves in Nigeria and in our politics.
Until the electorates consciously demand serious and periodic accountability from these politicians who hold public offices, who carry about the emblem of public trust, Nigeria will continue to be in disarray, and in the dismal bliss of underdevelopment. Until the electorates refused to be fooled by the studied subterfuges of these crafty elements, reject their policies of deliberate pauperism, and their Greek gifts to soil their consciences, public funds will be siphoned by this few who deceive the masses. Until sentiments and emotionalism are reduced on the side of the electorates and thorough comparisms of candidates done irrespective of political affiliations, they will continue to fall into the hands of these sworn swindlers.
The bulk of this kind of political revolution lies squarely in the shoulders of the electorates. They must use their voting rights and powers to determine their future and those of their children. The electorates must be wiser this time around and refuse the temptation of being bribed. They are to determine the political climate and the tempo, and block the possibility of sharing the commonwealth among only the politicians, like the British who shared Africa like “the chocolate cake on a birthday party”. The electorates must bear in mind that a bribed man is a weakened man. Bribery blunts a hitherto sharp conscience. Let us rise up and enjoy the commonwealth together. The wealth does not belong to only the politicians whose main methodology of doing things is through their subterfuges. Take responsibility!