June 15, 2022

Politicians on reality TV show in Abuja



By Okoh Aihe

THE past few weeks have been great moments for broadcasting, the TV genre to be specific. First was the PDP convention held in Abuja, which enjoyed live coverage on television.

Second was the convention by the ruling party, the APC which was held  last week. Again, television provided the engaging opportunity for those who could afford a personal organised rescue mission from darkness (power supply challenges) imposed by a government that, in my own estimation, has not done the people well at all.

Both events would best have been confined as circus shows were life in Nigeria not too traumatised to be given the rating of frivolity, or even a burlesque where characters are hilarious to the extreme. Most Nigerian politicians provide sustained daily entertainment but are very superficial in understanding the issues relating to the health and well-being of their people. For them party conventions provide convenient bazaars to saloon their perfidy.

For these politicians, television provides a contradiction – to convey truth that cannot be adulterated or skillfully manipulated to serve a predetermined purpose. This brings me to the story of my friend which I have told several times. While hunting for broadcast equipment at the NAB Conference in Las Vegas, my friend came across a camera lens that he would love to purchase but which was very expensive. Some fellows were watching and volunteered to deliver him from his dilemma. Are you a politician, the fellow asked.

It was my friend’s turn to be shocked. Why did you ask that kind of question? The intruder was not selfish with his answer. Oh, it is only politicians that are interested in this kind of thing, so that they can use it to double the number of people attending their rallies. You see the lack of faith in the sincerity of politicians is globally epidemic.

Back to the politicians at the conventions in Abuja. I was more interested in the epiphany of the ruling party which, like the nza bird in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, is challenging the supremacy of the creator of the heavens and the earth, to rule forever and keep the country blighted into the foreseeable future.

I have lived in this nation since when I was small and could not see the world beyond the confines of my town.

I have seen governments come and go, including the military whose word was pure command to the bloody civilians. I have seen them fly high like the nza bird after a great meal but then come down to earth in resounding eternal infamy. I was very interested in what the ruling party had to say to defend itself from the trauma that it has imposed on the land.

Perhaps by way of pointing them to a path of bizarre truth and morbid seriousness of the situation in the nation, some criminals from the pit of hell, just while the party was about to begin its rituals, went to a church in Owo, Ondo State and slaughtered lots of people whose only crime was being born Nigerians and going to a church on a Sunday morning to serve their God. The outrage is in the air and typically, no arrest has reportedly been made. But there was another challenge, TV is useless without power supply. You may just have a piece of dark junk box that is as useless as the blackboards in our nation’s universities.

I am constrained to say smart boards because the last time I visited one of the most acclaimed universities in the nation, I still carry the memory of what I saw. The boards are in the classes. Very lonely. No teachers to write on them. ASUU has kept the students at home for months and nobody is able to understand the irresponsibility of a government that makes little provision for the tomorrow of our children.

The first hurdle must be crossed. In the part of the nation where I live, I have not had light for nearly three months straight. The public power supply is in a sorry state; they say the grid always breaks down but there are always reasons for failure although nobody takes responsibility. I needed to buy diesel at N760 a litre, that is when it was still cheap! I hear diesel is over N800 now. It is difficult to understand what is happening in our nation and I thought it would be fitting to hear from a government which came into power on a gossamer of lies and has sustained it ever since.

The thing about live TV is that it bears the verisimilitude of reality TV, except that some reality TV could just be for pure entertainment. But pray, what is the difference between what we saw in Abuja in the preceding weeks and entertainment. The line is blurred in the level of untruth, the level of diminished tolerance to, or abnegation of reality.

TV has always been a tool in the hands of the powerful, especially those who go into government and think that they would be there forever. But 1992 made a difference to all that when former maximum leader, Ibrahim Babangida, deregulated the sector.

This masterstroke of genius introduced plurality to TV viewing in Nigeria. So at the Eagle Square in Abuja were as many cameras as possible, all feeding live signals to their headquarters for transmission across the nation or even the globe.

I can testify that live TV does not lie except manipulated, which is not beyond us in this part of the world. The APC that I saw while using the diesel I bought with my scarce resources to power my TV, did not express remorse for the ruination of this nation. Instead, after seven years they still passed the buck to PDP. Why is it impossible for these guys to ever confess the truth?

I have lived in this nation since when I was a child but had never experienced something close these seven blighted years of the locust. Death has become the cheapest commodity and very epidemic. Death is all over the place, including places of worship; not to talk of those who die on the road everyday or are kidnapped for ritual purposes or organ harvesting.

 The refrain of this government is to curse perpetrators of these terrible crimes to rot in hell instead of taking concerted action that can give the people hope.

In just seven years, the nation’s currency has plummeted to an all time low against the dollar, and the crash continues to intensify. Students have been out of school for months just because the government cannot meet the demands of ASUU members even if the demands may not be able to fund the endowment of a major university in some parts of the world.

The state of the nation is abysmally chaotic. The roads are bad, infested by bandits; air travel is suffering from the dreariness of an unfocused government; the emerging new bride of movements, the trains, suffered a major hit by terrorists; inflation figures are doctored to reflect a reality that is not available in our stomachs.

Life has lost meaning in every sense, and the people needed hope, somebody to inspire them that tomorrow could be pregnant with some answers that can heal the wounds of the past, and provide the energy for the days ahead. Even look at this, the world is in turmoil as a result of the Russian/Ukraine war. Nations are looking for alternative supplies of crude oil.

Nobody looked at the direction of Nigeria because even as the APC gathered in Abuja there were queues for fuel at the filling stations and the price of cooking was shooting through the roof. Nobody seeks help from a country that cannot help herself.

I am watching TV for a moment of confessed truth, instead these politicians in their flowing agbada, tried so hard to lobotomise the present ugliness of life in Nigeria out of my brain.

 For them, life is a merry-go-round. And come next year, the students who have been at home for months, the parents who buried their deaths at the Lekki Tollgate in October, 2020, and even those who raise money to pay ransom to kidnappers, will return them to power. I am watching TV. These people have ruined lives in Nigeria.

In the months ahead we shall watch on television too how their ambitions will untangle one after the other. The payback time is not far away.