By Muyiwa Adetiba
Journalists are political animals and when two or three of them are gathered together under whatever guise, politics and the state of the nation cannot be far from their conversations. I had a late breakfast with some veteran journalists two weeks ago.
They were people I had known for over four decades and had worked closely with at one time or the other during that period. They were also people with extensive contacts as one would expect from people who get to the top of their trade. The host was the Chairman of Vanguard -our forever boss.
It wasn’t long therefore before we drifted to the state of the nation. The conclusion after varying contributions, was that it was becoming apparent that the PDP would pick a popular Northern Muslim candidate in complete repudiation of the zonal arrangement which had served the party so far.
This development according to an analysis which was informed by sources, has unnerved the APC into having a rethink on its own zonal arrangement. We were still deep in our breakfast of yam and egg garnished with political gist, when one of us received a call from a very prominent but old northern politician.
The call was to express his worry at the rash of people picking the 100 million Naira presidential form. Being an old, wily politician of the Shagari era, his instinct told him a puppeteer was pulling strings somewhere, perhaps close to the presidency with a mission to dissipate political energy and possibly cause general confusion.
The call was to alert his old and trusted media contact of this possibility and to urge a discreet investigation if possible.
A couple of days later, I hosted a group of equally old friends to drinks and roasted guinea fowl in the evening. They were medical doctors whom I had hung out with since our bachelor days well over four decades ago. Highly skilled, many of them have over the years, owned and run successful hospitals.
Some have however dabbled into politics along the way with two making it to the Federal House of Reps and one making the ministerial list during the Obasanjo era. They have earned the right to be elder statesmen and political kingmakers in their constituencies.
The evening was at the instance of one of the doctors who had stayed behind after his postgraduate studies over forty years ago but now comes home often to share his skills at some private hospitals while relishing the opportunity to share drinks and time with old friends. It was a pleasant evening as expected.
But it was almost marred by the Machiavellian attitude of the politicians among us. The conversation had drifted inevitably to politics and the consensus – that word again – among my medical friends in politics, was that they were for whomever could deliver the votes.
This to them was a certain man from the North. It was the same man my veteran journalists had zeroed in on as the likely candidate from PDP.I found their position disconcerting because we had earlier on discussed the state of the nation. We had discussed the system which had refused to unleash the potential of the country.
We had discussed the general attitude of the North to governance. We had touched on those who seek power with dirty hands.
Now, these friends in their 70s, who are probably facing a lonely future because many of their children are abroad due to the same unfavourable state of the nation; whose classmate for whom we had the outing, would like to spend the rest of his life in Nigeria if the downward direction of the country could be altered; who are influencers in the political terrain and possibly delegates at the conventions, can choose to be this Machiavellian and ‘practical’ in deciding on someone whose main strength is that he has the wherewithal to win a presidential election.
I thought I had earned my cynicism after so many years of shocks and disappointments, but this still surprised me given what we know about this man. The man they are rooting for is a beneficiary of the system. He is another Fulani who will not change the status quo beyond the cosmetic. It is sad that highly accomplished professionals who know this are choosing to look away for the sake of expediency.
Three years ago, the nation woke up to the phenomenon of EndSars; a movement of youths which paralysed the country and forced unlikely concessions from government. This emerging movement was inspiring and frightening at the same time. It was inspiring to see youths who had been labelled lazy organizing and funding such a massive movement without it leaking to intelligence.
It was also inspiring to learn that our youths were more politically aware than we give them credit for. But it was frightening to know about the level of discontent and the potential for destruction among our youths.
We were literally inches away from the Arab Spring with its attendant social chaos. It was frightening to witness the power of the digital world for good and for evil. I actually thought the leaders will learn a thing or two from the protest and change the direction of governance by putting some rein on its profligacy.
I also thought the youths who could organize such a movement, would use the tools at their disposal to push a candidate of their choice onto our consciousness. I know they were harassed and brutalized in their last effort.
But if they want to be reckoned with and if they truly desire change, then 2023 could be their year. Right now, what we have instead are the same old tired brigade, pursuing the same old tired ideology and deploying the same old tired tools of religion, tribe and financial inducements. You look at the thirty odd people who have come out to express interest in the presidency, and with the exception of a handful of them, they are people to be tied to the stakes and shot for what they have done to our country.
If we allow the script to be acted to conclusion by the manipulators of the system, then we should not be surprised at the outcome. If we become stoic by accepting the so called ‘reality on the ground’ like my colleagues and old friends opined, then we should be prepared for more of our bright and promising youths leaving the country to seek greener pastures.
If what we have witnessed in the last five years are not enough for us to fight for a change, then we deserve more hardship as a people. After all, you cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different outcome. Unless if this is the outcome we deserve.