June 9, 2023

Relationships ruined by politics, By Donu Kogbara

Relationships ruined by politics, By Donu Kogbara

Last week, I wrote about “The Five Stages of Grief”, a theory about the emotional journeys humans go through when they are grieving.

The theory was invented by Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist, and usually refers to people who are facing death or have lost loved ones. But it can also be applied to anyone who is trying to cope with any type of devastating personal loss.

The five distinct stages Kubler-Ross identified were: DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION and ACCEPTANCE. And I’ve said that many supporters of Peter Obi (myself included) are going through this grieving process because we have felt bereaved since Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential election.

Today, I’d like to briefly focus on the Anger phase because anger is extremely destructive and has cost me five friendships that have completely collapsed because of toxic political disagreements.

The first friend I lost was a guy from Katsina who kept sending me stupid, bigoted WhatsApp messages – during the run-up to the election – that either denigrated Peter Obi and Igbos in general or glossed over Tinubu’s shortcomings.

I asked him to quit this provocation. I said: “Let us please agree to disagree when it comes to politics and focus on the many other issues we agree on.” But the barrage of offensive posts continued, so I abused and blocked him. And we haven’t spoken for several months.

I then lost four female friends shortly after the election because one of them admiringly posted a poem by Hannatu Musawa on a WhatsApp platform that we ladies had belonged to for a long time.

The poem was titled: “Asiwaju is coming” and it infuriated me…partly because I regarded it as shamelessly mendacious and sycophantic and partly because a young man of whom I had been very fond had been killed by pro-Tinubu thugs on election day in Rivers State.

So I lashed out. And four women exited the WhatApp group in protest.

I wasn’t surprised because one was a fully paid-up member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and potentially useful to the others.

I reached out to them to explain my rage and try to mend fences. But they weren’t ready to listen. And I’ve concluded, on reflection, that we are better off without each other because anyone who can’t empathise with – or forgive – my legitimate distress about murder, untruths and injustices is not on the same page as me morally. And we will all be happier if we hang with folks who share our values.

Still, it is sad when friendships don’t last forever. And I hear that the recent elections have been particularly divisive and have generated so many relationship breakdowns nationwide.

These schisms really aren’t necessary.

It is psychologically immature and ridiculous for bonds that have often been forged over decades to be severed because of politics.

If one maintains a civilized attitude, one can easily tolerate friends who have divergent allegiances and opinions. And I’m glad to report that I am still on good terms with quite a few Tinubu and Atiku fans.

We argue. We contradict each other. Sometimes, voices are raised and rude or sarcastic comments are exchanged. But a basic commitment to intellectual honesty overrides such conflicts.

And we continue to be the best of friends; and that’s how Life should be. Why on earth should folks who have been close for years – often since primary/secondary school or university – fall out because of politicians they more often than not barely know or don’t know at all, including politicians who are essentially ruffians?!

The same questions can be asked around all those young men who allow themselves to be used as weapons during election seasons.

Unscrupulous politicians hire them to create mayhem at polling stations and snatch ballot boxes, intimidate/harm voters, et cetera.

Meanwhile, these electoral hoodlums have more in common with many of their victims or equally thuggish grassroots-level opponents than they do with their paymasters – who have no real respect for them.

Why viciously fight someone who grew up poor like you on behalf of distant big shots whose children are safely tucked away in foreign countries or in luxury residences in Lagos, Abuja or wherever?

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

I have been Obidient for a year and my position has not changed. But one has to prioritise Reality over Wishful Thinking.

The reality is that President Tinubu is in charge at the moment and may never be unseated by notorious Nigerian judges…which means that serious journalists need to assess him on this basis.

And I totally agree with my colleague, the columnist Segun Adeniyi, who has this to say about President Tinubu:

“The challenge  of the moment  is how he can rise above himself  to  establish a legacy that could cleanse his past sins and prepare him for heroic statesmanship. It is not impossible.  

If Tinubu  runs a minimally credible government with sensible policies that promote economic recovery and national unity, he may regain elite solidarity and consensus. If his policies improve the general welfare of ordinary people, his popular support will also improve and blur his electoral and personal handicaps.”