By Adekunle Adekoya
THERE is a lot to see, hear, or read about in Nigerian politics, and when you fit all of the takes into one reel, what you have is a picture of theatrical performers in a sphere of activity that demands the greatest level of seriousness and concentration.
Let’s start with the run-ups to the nominations of the presidential candidates of the major parties for next year’s general elections, then we look at the selection of the running mates, and thence, pan the cameras to the governorship candidates, and their running mates as well. First, a lot of people who KNOW that they didn’t stand a chance in a million of winning their party’s presidential ticket announced bids.
In the All Progressives Congress, APC, for instance, no less than 30 people, many of whom ended scoring zero votes at the primary election, shelled out a mammoth N100 million for the party’s Expression of Interest and Nomination forms. Others did the same for the princely sun of N40 million in the opposition PDP. Why? For what? Did they do a SWOT assessment of their chances? Were they realistic in their analyses of factors that will ensure their victory or impede their success?
I thought that people bidding for the presidential ticket of a major party like the APC or PDP are very serious people; the presidency of any country, especially that of Nigeria, is not a circus where the director is the president.
Not long after, the PDP, having chosen Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was in the process of announcing a running mate, which later became the governor of Delta State, Dr. Arthur Okowa. Thereafter, the runner-up to Atiku, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State started display of moves that seemed calculated to fluster the presidential candidate, perhaps, and the higher echelons of the party.
Pictures of him wearing caps identified with men from the South-West started emerging. Lo, and behold, seven days ago, pictures and news came from Port Harcourt of a visit by his colleagues. Governors Rotimi Akeredolu, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Kayode Fayemi, and former governor, Ayo Fayose were in the oil city to see Wike. If that was not theatrical, it was certainly a salvo fired in the direction of select targets, which hit home, it being a guided projectile. The visit was as funny to me as its undisclosed objective and outcome.
Much earlier, real theatre had entered the race for higher political office when on June 24, the Rivers State governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Mr. Tonte Ibraye disclosed Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, as his running mate for the 2023 election.
Don’t get me wrong, people from all kinds of professions find berth in the political arena here and elsewhere; apart from Bankole Wellington, better know as Banky W who is vying for a seat in the House of Representatives, and another well-known actor, Desmond Elliot who had been in the Lagos State House of Assembly after winning elections, a former barber is in the House of Representatives, and even led the bid to muzzle the media through an obnoxious bill.
The latest in this regard is the announcement this week of another Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele of the Jenifa fame, as the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in Lagos State. Akindele, a lawyer and successful screen diva and movies producer as a person is not the issue, but that the party and the governorship candidate himself seemed not to have considered all matters germaine smacks of histrionics, utter unseriousness, if you like.
I know we are in troubled, indeed, perilous times, but that should not make us lose our sense of propriety, our values and other things we hold dear, which are actually the superstructures on which our society stand. Did the PDP in Lagos think of all that?
And from Osun came the news that the state government denied the opposition PDP the use of certain facilities for its rallies. According to the party’s Caretaker Chairman, Dr Akindele Adekunle, the party was denied the use of a stadium, Technical College field and the Freedom Park which it applied to use for the final campaign programme.
The state government denied the PDP’s accusations, saying that the party’s application came late. Special Adviser to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, said the party failed to book the said venues until other groups did.
“It is unfortunate that the PDP due to lack of proper organisation decided to book the venues after other groups have done so. A youth group booked for the stadium ahead of them, while the mini bus union is using the freedom park,” he said. Amusing, that? Theatrical, I say!
While these amateur comedians are running the show here, let them be reminded that a professional comedian, Volodimir Zelensky, is currently the president of Ukraine, and is leading his country from the front, including waging a war with a military behemoth like Russia. Zelensky dropped the theatrics and faced governance squarely. That is what we demand of ours in governance here. SERIOUSNESS, please!