In praise of the Nigerian politician

It does not matter that you are from Sokoto, Kaduna, Yenagoa, Lagos, Enugu, Ilorin or Port Harcourt.  You are the same. And it is of no distinguishing consequence that one is in Abuja and the other in the states. There is no distinction besides the costume. And yet you tell us we must say you are different from the others. We see no difference between two strange men in the market place. One may be clothed, the other nude. One may brandish his machete and the other’s concealed in his ragged apparel. You are same, of same world of death and strangeness.

I know that you, even you, do not understand yourself. You organise party primary, you rig or cry rigging. You participate in general elections, you rig or shout rigging. Even ordinary choice of party officials is a big issue for you. You go for congresses and conventions, you change and unchange allegiances like the lady in the brothel next door. The only thing that has value is cash. You say many things and do nothing.

There is nothing you do that does not mark you out as a special breed even among other politicians in other climes. You laugh at your people when they fight and kill one another because of you. You shake your head when your supporters break heads and smash skulls because they think the other person is an enemy. You look at them and feel sorry for their idiocy. It is their lot to see enemies in the other party. It is your own fortune to see political opportunities and business partners on the other side. The people cannot understand. It is their luck.

When a man is very capable in what he does, he looks at himself and trembles. Do you marvel at your capacity for doing what evil means? We have always been amazed at your capacity for the impossible. You say you are different and we see same of shame. You beat up the afflicted and demand apology. You rape and demand garlands. You take food from the mouth of the hungry and charge him to court for grumbling. You spit odious sputum into the mouth of the unpaid labourer and warn that he mustn’t throw up. You beat up the deprived orphan and say he cries at his own peril.

It does not matter that you are from the party of doves or of the band of hawks. Your dove devours what the hawk eats. We see this and freeze in horror. In your eyes, beauty is ugliness and ugliness beauty. And you insist we must use your eyes to watch the world, our world. You stand on the pedestal of truth and spew falsehood. You claim virginity but live in the dingy recesses of whoredom. You promise construction but spread devastation. You beat drums of spirits and drag humans to the dance floor. You promise light and give darkness. Why?

The people must work and get good pay. That was the promise. And, only you know great places to work and earn nice pay — NNPC, FIRS, CBN.  You know where to sweat less and earn more —  the palaces. Your own third-rated children, they work in these houses of money. They deserve it. You remember you promised job creation and  you graciously buy cutlasses and hoes and okada – great empowerment for the people’s first class children! It is their lot, their destiny.

It matters very little that you reign over rich states or you manage poor states. When and where it is good, you alone know it and feel it. For the people, their lot is the same – in Kubwa, in Funtua, in Ado Ekiti, in Akure, in Benin, in Koko, in Omoku. The state may not have money for salaries, but there are no poor government houses. What do you feel in your heart as you peep through the tinted windows of your limousine and you see bent shoes wearing out the walkways of your gilded palace road? Do you at all feel what we feel — revulsion? Do you see at all we see everyday on expressways of gloom — sweating school-age children hawking, running, falling for little nothings during school hours?

To you, nothing is sacred, profanity is an art. You are rich, the nation may be poor. There is no contradiction in that. You have your own way of buying everything and everyone. The one you can’t buy, you bend. The one who refuses to bend, you break. To you, Nigeria is your inheritance. That is why you do not know when to quit even when old age has eaten away all the usefulness in you. If your eyes can’t see, at least you are not deaf. Nigeria needs fresh air but your body odour fouls the air. If you are incapable of sensing shame, what about your household? You tell yourself that there is nothing to be ashamed of, service is a commandment from God. Politics is a divine calling, an assignment set for you by God. You don’t retire serving God and you are serving and serving hard.

Nigeria may have forex problem. Families with children schooling abroad may be stranded, marooned. That is not your problem. It is not your problem because your own children are not complaining. They are well-fed, and so, you won’t know if anyone is crying of hunger. You are very hardworking, serving the people. You pay your bills, home and abroad without hassle. Others may be running from pillar to post, scratching their heads, looking for naira or dollars. It is their problem, their luck. You have enough in your safe to last a lifetime. What you have is for you and yours and let no one call you selfish. You worked so hard to earn your dollars.

We know the beautiful ones aren’t here. You say ‘look at me! I am not of them who eat your yam!’ But in your flat tummy is the yam, eaten with hired fingers!  But, why is it that you are never in love with dreams of beauty? We vote democracy and get nepotism. What we get is government of father by the wife and for the children. And that is everywhere and anywhere. And so what? What can they do? You ask yourself and smile. True, what can we do? We are helpless. We have always been helpless. But we thought this way is the way? If you are this, where is tomorrow?

You may not see it, but they see it. Who are the ‘they’?  The ones whose poor feet you crushed with your kids’ tyres. On those sweating faces hawking in the blazing sun of traffic jams, are unspoken vows of revenge, of pounds of flesh from a system that takes and does not give. A system that does not give jobs but derives joy in taking the wood from hewers; a system that does not pay for jobs done but demands tax from the unpaid. A system that crushes and gives no damn.

That is your world, politician of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.