By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
Our politics is the caricature of the real thing. You can call it a circus. But if it’s a circus then the main show is in the stares. It’s amongst our governors that the travesty becomes truly naked. In the states, absurdities strut the streets, shoulders held high, without blinking.
Our governors do cushy sedentary jobs but glorify themselves as Olympic athletes. Self effacement has become a taboo in our politics. Vulgar exhibitionism of fame and ill-gotten wealth has become the vogue. Many of them can’t be found without majestic walking sticks. And these little things tell big stories. Our 75 year-old president doesn’t use any.
There is a governor in the Southeast. When he walks, he walks like an Oba. This is a man who was a staff of a commercial bank a few years ago. When did he learn the posture of sovereign kings? Where did he find the haughtiness in such a short time? Always with a walking stick and always covered with beads, always with bleary eyes, he casts the image of a serious clown in high office. The solemnity with which he carries on receiving adulation from his fawning supporters marks him out as a special charlatan.
There is so much room for tomfoolery at the state level. A certain governor in the south south calls himself Mr Project. But the state of the art primary schools left by his predecessor have been allowed to deteriorate. This governor met an unfinished rail project in his state capital. He thinks the job was poorly done.
But all he has done is to lament and curse. And to abandon it. Yet his state suffers from poor, overcrowded transportation system which he has done practically nothing to alleviate. So this Mr project hasn’t thought about improving, expanding or extending that mono rail project. He hasn’t imagined anything innovative for his state.
Perhaps he isn’t to blame. He thinks he is a workaholic. And that he is the only workaholic governor in Nigeria. He is possibly at his wits end. If a governor’s workaholic isn’t seen on his soot-infested streets then he must be working for himself alone. It must be indolence that would make any governor in Nigeria announce himself a workaholic governor. It could be more than indolence. It could be hypomania.
And that brings me to delusions of grandeur. It’s ravaging our governors. A certain governor in the southeast thinks his state is too small a stage for him. He is therefore a Michael Jackson dancing at a bus stop in Ihiala. He thinks he should be president or UN secretary General. But rather than leave his mark on the small stage by establishing transparency in governance he has ordained one of the most opaque and most arbitrary systems in the country. One single man runs practically all the ministries, almost from home. And when he is done with his constitutionally allowed term limits, he wants to handover to his son-in-law and create a political dynasty.
This man had said he came to rescue the state. He has privatized every activity of government branding it ‘rescue mission.’ Perhaps he left out pensioners in the state, since they are already too old. A messiah complex. And the messiah complex lives in almost every government house in Nigeria.
In the states, anything goes. One governor in the Northwest loves foreign currencies a little too much. He awards contracts and collects bribes, in dollars. He collects the bribes himself. And he collects them like he would collect a daughter’s bride price: He feels the wads with tenderness and smiles as his pushes them into his over-sized babanriga pockets. Little wonder the president thinks the video clips of the scandal could be the work of tech genius. That governor has remained. And may be re elected. Public moral outrage has subsided. He has immunity. He could be innocent for a long long time to come.
In those days the people honoured governors with names. So Jakande was ‘action governor.’ People saw the housing estates and free education and thought they were products of real action. But when a certain former governor in a Southwest state wanted to be known as an action governor he simply gave himself that name.
And proceeded to make proclamations that suggested he owned his state and could decide its fate for it. He tried to foist his deputy on the state and lost the elections. But he couldn’t contain himself. He walked across to the state broadcasting house and announced fake elections results, declaring his party the winner of the governorship elections.
You can’t imagine that happening at the federal level.
The states are ruled by emperors. Let’s go to North-central. That is where we have the man who likes to be referred to as the youngest governor. He must have been destined for the era of the sergeant Awuses and the Adedibus.
He came after his time. He uses power drunkenly, like an intoxicated prince, when princes had power of life and death. And like the typical Nigerian who stumbled into wealth and power, his immediate neighbours are bearing the brunt.
Youth is tolerant. It rebels against stagnation and vindictiveness which age accumulates. Youth may lack patience, but it has innocence and sense of justice. But this young man has an old heart.
One house is burnt here. It is owned by one of his opponents. No one knows who burnt it. One deputy governor is stripped of his security there. He doesn’t even know his sin. He cries out. And his security detail is restored. The state pines in insecurity.
And there lies the nation’s hope in the promise of youth. There it lies and rots in political intolerance, arbitrariness and brigandage. The young ones are even more vicious, and more ruthless than the bad old ones.
Go back to the Southwest. There a governor and his hired thugs, a few days ago, physically dismantled the campaign features of his opponent who belongs to same party with him. His thugs didn’t bother to be nice in front of television cameras and the president. The governor the next day gleefully described on twitter how his thugs disgraced his enemies. Our politics is truly the work of a mischievous cartoonist.