New Telegraph

Between Political Demagoguery And Correctness

Politics in Nigeria is driven and shaped by several factors and incidents chief among which are tribe, religion, demagoguery and adroit use of language or lack of it which may be termed ‘political correctness or lack of it. Since 2015 which the All Progressives Congress came to power in Nigeria the major factors that have shaped politics have been the usage of tribal and religious sentiments and incidents of political correctness in the language of politics. Between 1999 and 2015, politics was largely humdrum affair conducted by military generals who had in an effort to save Nigeria and their military institution from destruction by looming revolt of the people and the cathartic resolution of the Nigerian existential question they have suppressed with humongous amount of violence and bloodshed.

As freedom of expression was curtailed under military rule so also any predilection to demagoguery for some politicians enamoured of the of the politics of bread and butter and ‘a little to the right and a little to the right’ under President Babangida or that of survival under General Abacha succession through transmutation. During that period, to be politically correct, you must be seen and act in advancing the cause of Babangida’s transition learning process and Abacha transmutation agenda. Of all Nigerian politicians, it was only Gani Fawehinmi under Babangida and MD Yusuf under General Abacha that summoned the courage to be different. Perhaps, it was this MD Yusuf’s template that galvanize Alex Ekwueme and his 18 great men to write opposing Abacha’s transmutation agenda but Abacha ignored their irritant act.

The Obasanjo era did not come with great demagoguery and political correctness except for the occasional usage that electioneering campaigns threw up. Thus the period’s totalitarian hijack of the votes for President Obasanjo’s party, the PDP necessitated President Obasanjo declaring that his winning was ‘do-or- die’ and that political partisans of his party must acknowledge the command and control of his ‘garrison commanders’ like Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu at Ibadan and Oyo State. During the period when President Obasanjo was using the EFCC to beat his recalcitrant PDP members into line, politicians and government contractors minded their language by observing political correctness in public conversations. In all political societies, the standard measure of freedom is the freedom to express one’s thoughts and to hold opinions.

During colonial rule Britain stifled this freedom with its Sedition Law. Many journalists and nationalists went to prison for flouting Sedition Act Provisions. Against this abridgement of this freedom, Voltaire had written that in as much as he might dislike contrary or adverse opinions but he would fight to death to ensure the maker of such speech or opinion’s right to voice it out. This is in agreement with Igbo proverb that stifling opinion is injurious to human body or philosophy. As they say, “okwu adighi n’afo aru afo.” It is only a slave society that makes people fear to hold opinions freely or to express them.

Against the backdrop of this conversation, we have to weigh the recent Obidient bashings and excoriations of its leaders especially the so called ‘leaked Obi and Oyedepo conversation’ where Obi was alleged to have asked Oyedepo for support because the 2023 election was a religious war. A reasonable appraisal of Obi persona shows he could not have made such statement. What was attributed to him was clearly a doctored phrase taken out of context. In any case, is Nigeria not in a state of religious war? When Gideon Akaluka Uka was beheaded in Kano for alleged desecration of the Koran or Mrs Agbahime or Miss Haruna in Sokoto College of Education were killed Islamic fundamentalists, are these not religious war against Nigeria? There is an obvious religious war in Nigeria which rulers of Nigeria have refused to acknowledge and talk about.

Is it only a class of Nigerians that is allowed the freedom to make incendiary speeches. In 1947, Tafawa Balewa at the Legislative Council of Nigeria declared the idea of Nigerian Unity a ruse and adjudged British effort as a wasteful exercise which if abandoned his people would resume the interrupted jihad to conquer the south. That statement earned him a badge of honour. Did he not rule Nigeria from 1951 to 1966. Ahmadu Bello in 1960 claimed Nigeria ought to be his grandfather’s estate where he using the northern minorities instrument will rule forever and never allow the south to have control of their affairs.

Is Ahmadu Bello not Nigerian hero? Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared it was the turn of his Yoruba tribe to rule Nigeria, and that turn belongs to him, has that tribal profiling any adverse consequence for him? El-Rufai told a bewildered nation that his Fulani tribe does not forgive wrongful acts done them, and that they exact revenge even after twenty years. Has this glorification of a grievous fault of a tribe detracted from el-Rufai’s patriotism? Vice President-elect Shettima Kassim in a viral video alleged conversation with his friend, Senator Kunle Amosu a designed scheme of aligning the Yoruba with his North to win power in Nigeria and use this power to subjugate the Igbo and exclude them from Nigerian patrimony.

Has barefaced subterfuge hindered his aspirations? From these instances, it appears there are certain classes of Nigeria that can freely hold opinions without adverse consequences. There in counterpoise, is a class of Nigerians mainly the Igbo who must tread and speak softly in Nigeria to be politically correct. If you have taken time to study Igbo politicians, you can’t fail to observe a trait common to them; a slave mentality of treading and speaking soft and easy with respect to their personal or group opinions or in defence of self or his group. But if it comes to the defence of any person or group that is in power or in a relative firmer standing in power-relations, the Igbo politician will climb the mountain top or even ascend the moon to shout himself hoarse in defence of that relatively stronger politician.

Why is this so? The Igbo leadership was decapitated by Britain in 1951 and that singular act has foisted the psychological and sociological loose political footing (flotsam mentality) whereby Azikiwe after his displacement in the West scurried back to East to muddle politics and climbed down from his Olympian height of Zik of Africa to Owelle of Onitsha. The second devastation of Igbo leadership was the Biafra War which Britain seized upon to deliver the final blow as its own ‘Final Solution’. Britain seized the opportunity of Biafra War to activate its diplomatic arsenal to ensure that not only that Biafra was defeated but that Nigeria’s state structure and constitutional framework will be such that the Igbo will never rise again in Nigeria. This is because the only stumbling block to British neo- colonial control of Nigeria is the Igbo.

So, to Britain the rise of the Igbo in Nigeria is antithetical to its neocolonial interests. The greatest injury suffered by the Igbo in Nigeria is the bastardization of its constitutional framework when the 1976 Uniform Local Government System was forced upon them completed with the alien traditional rulers at the autonomous communities. So, the Indirect Rule their women (Aba Women Riots) defeated Britain to abolish was forced upon them. Also the feudal economic system based on the Land Use Act and its principles of the Warrant Chief now called State Governor/Local Government Council Chairman sitting in control of this vital resource while feudal principles of revenue mobilisation and allocation gather rents and share according to consumption capacity and not according to productive capacity.

Also quota and federal character being handmaids of this feudal system sacrifice merit on the altar of mediocrity. This is the reason for the slave mentality of the Igbo politicians not being able to speak or act truthfully in accordance with their genuine feelings and thoughts. So when you see any Igbo politician struggling to be politically correct just know that the man is weighed down by his bur- dens and must pretend to be able to follow his master at the table of national cake banquet.

Read Previous

Financial Inclusion: Evaluating CBN’s Race To Meeting Target

Read Next

Legendary Rock’N’Roll Singer, Tina Turner Dies At 83

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *