IN ordinary man’s parlance, Dem Say, dem say means gossip. But in Abuja, it is a popular news programme hosted by the multi-talented James Expensive on Abuja’s crowd-pulling FM station, Wazobia 99.5. You will never know the state of origin of the host of the programme. He speaks the deep Oyo/Lagos Yoruba; he speaks Igbo language fluently plus some other dialects in the South-East and South-South. He also speaks some tattered Hausa. When you ask him, he says he is a Nigerian. He is also called GOC and he is General Overseer of the Sunday, Sunday Radio Church, where he preaches morality and religious piety.
One of his popular lines is; ‘what are friends for if not for inconveniences.’ But of all his crowd-favoured programmes, dem say dem say remains the biggest hit. Every 9:00 pm, at weekdays, listeners stayed tuned to some of the weird and out of the world happenings Expensive would present as dem say dem say. But the special mastery of the unique conversational style of presentation also marks the presenter out. Whenever he is on leave, or on some official assignments, his listeners are crestfallen as they eagerly await his return.
Does he only present gossips? No, not at all. His Dem Say Dem Say are real-life happenings of the weird type. They are true but appear unbelievable. They are usually sources from online sites and Nigerian newspapers. They are events of everyday life that we all detest. They are jaw-dropping stories and largely human interest materials.
So how does that link to our everyday political life? Because dem say dem say is real but carries every tenet of gossip around it, we can link some politicians who are supposed to have grown to the stage of real politic in this 20 years of democratic governance to playing dem say dem say politics. It is a brand of politics which bares fangs of pseudo-democracy and are laced with autocratic tendencies.
Democracy in the easiest of definitions would mean you have your say I have my say. The majority view carries the day. Where the views of the minority are seen to have been muted ab initio, the perpetrators cannot be said to be playing democracy.
Some two Mondays ago, the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole told lawmakers-elect on the platform of the party that the incoming 9th National Assembly would be a winner-takes-all scenario. He also told the Senators-elect in the evening of that Monday that the party had anointed their leader; the lawmakers are expected to go home and work with those candidates.
Corroborating Oshiomhole’s stance, the national leader of the APC, who spoke on his return to Lagos, shortly after marking his 67th birthday with a colloquium in Abuja on March 29, said that the newly elected APC lawmakers must tow the party’s line or leave the party. He cared less how the said party’s position was arrived at.
Incidentally, he was talking to persons who have committed their personal finances into getting elected into the National Assembly. He was also talking to persons who are leading a population of at least 500,000 persons per constituency. And he did not care if they have an opinion on the matter at hand. This can only be Dem say, Dem say democracy and nothing else.
As persons who have spent seasons playing politics as trades, they should easily understand the psyche of an average politician. They ought to have known that politicians demand their ego massaged. They deserve to be shown respect and given a sense of importance, especially when you attach titles to their names, Distinguished Senators and Honourable members.
Hear Tinubu: “Party discipline is key; we must be discipline in the party. We were a little careless in 2015. We created the opportunity for the serpent to get into our party and that did not allow Nigeria to make the desired progress.
“You have seen the result of it and we are not going to allow that to happen again. We are going to respect our party and we are going to apply the whip.
“It is either you stay with us or you follow us or you leave. You have the freedom to choose but the freedom does not give you as a minority to go and collaborate and protrude our mandate given to you to another party who was our opposition and who is still our opposition.
“We would not take that this time, no matter who you think you are. That is how it is built. Why do you want to deviate from what has been structured?
“We look at our reward system equally, zone by zone.”
But the reality of our system does not deify the well-hyped party discipline. That is more of a term that works in the parliamentary system.
The Nigerian democracy, founded on the 1999 Constitution, recognises the Senate and the House of Representatives as the legislative arms of government. The Constitution does not give a role to the political party that produces the lawmakers a role in choosing who would lead any of the chambers. The constitution simply says that the lawmakers shall elect their leaders among themselves. If the Constitution already guarantees the right of every member of the parliament to be elected into the leadership position of the House, how do you turn around and take away that right?
When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway, its leaders developed a zonal arrangement and allowed the zones to be the first to produce an anointed candidate. The leaders worked from behind to ensure the emergence of the preferred candidate even though the party maintained a two-thirds majority for most of those years. For the APC, the time is ripe to stop this dem say, dem say democracy.