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Chidi Amuta, Ojo Maduekwe and the PDP leadership

By John Moyibi Amoda
IN the Back Page of Thursday June 15, 2009, Chidi Amuta in an essay titled: ‘The Efficacy of Boredom’ undertook an appraisal of the political class in Nigeria through the career of Ojo Maduekwe, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.  His first sentence provides both the perspective and framework of that appraisal.

“The background is one of almost universal pessimism about the Nigerian political situation.  Even more debilitating is the sense of hopelessness within the political class, especially the incoherent collection that can be loosely classified as the ‘opposition’.

If the matter in question is the possibility of democratic change of leadership from the current PDP-dominated landscape to leadership by another party, you are likely to encounter a cacophony of views and voices.”

If this is the thesis of the Chidi Amuta’s fundamental critique of the Nigerian political class, the question arises: How are the political affairs of such a class to be managed?  As if commissioned to prove his thesis, the lead story of Sunday June 21, 2009 next on Sunday was titled: “109 Senators, only 15 bills; the Senate’s Midterm Scorecard:

*109 Senators
*2 years in office
*15 bills passed
*N56 billion in wages
*N4 billion per bill.

Wages based on the 2007, 2008, 2009 approved budgets for the Senate”.
Implying the scorecard is a measure of the leadership engagement with the legislative direction of the Nigerian project, credence is provided for Amuta’s report on the Nigerian political situation.

The paucity of bills from this perspective is thus a description of the political class.  Hope for a corrective leadership seems utopian where the opposition is described as an incoherent collection characterised by “a cacophony of views and voices”.

Prospects of democratic change of leadership by the electoral defeat of the ruling PDP according to Amuta are thus dismal.  No wonder there is an almost universal pessimism about the Nigerian political situation.  In the past when hope in civilian elected leadership had been lost, the necessary condition for the undemocratic change of leadership emerged.

If the above is the thesis of Amuta’s essay, can that essay be read as the warning of a watchman?  Can Amuta be read as a message to one member of the political class who by past conduct can understand the message and transmit it to the PDP leadership?  Such interpretation of the essay is supported by Amuta’s description of the Nigerian political situation and of the aptitude of Ojo Maduekwe whom Amuta presents in these words.

“For the avoidance of doubt, my brother and friend Maduekwe is no ordinary party man.  He is to my mind the right honorable philosopher of changing causes.  He is a very uncommon politician in these parts and times.  Besides having found himself within the inner recesses of nearly every government that has happened since the twilight days of the Abacha regime, Maduekwe has lent something intangible to both the ruling party and all the governments that he has served.

With a fundamentally philosophical mindset, he has found it necessary to furnish his endeavours with some rational anchor partly as a way of making sense of his duties and perhaps also of compelling his master to find a rational basis for their exercise of power.

Whether these are self-serving rationalisations or mere sophomoric incursion into philosophy for purposes of keeping these obviously lucrative jobs becomes immaterial in a culture where the exercise of power, especially by successive elected power merchant, has been cruelly bereft of ideas whether borrowed or stolen”.

Chidi Amuta’s logic itself provides an answer to his meditations on the character of his protagonist.  He has a message for the ears of the PDP leadership.  He has observed that of all of the possible intermediaries to convey his warning to a leadership apparently asleep on the watch, Ojo Maduekwe by his philosophical mindset is the one to appreciate the urgency of the message.

This being the case, comments on Maduekwe’s career styles are petulant distractions which detract from the rigour of his analysis and the urgency of his warning.  So what is the message for the messenger?

*This is the message: the pre-coup signs are discernible;
*The mood of the people is almost universal pessimism about the Nigerian political situation;
*There is a debilitating sense of hopelessness within the political class;

*The opposition to the PDP is an incoherent collection, a veritable confusion of voices and views on remedies;
*Hope in democratic change of leadership is almost extinguished;
*The faith merchants have failed to breathe life into the polity.


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