Factors defining Nigeria’s politics

Politics in Nigeria is majorly parochial and highly defined by both deep ethnic and religious sentiments. Every election cycle brings with it these sentiments manifestly in greater frenzied proportions. Politicians win or lose by taking undue advantage of both. Always exploiting the obvious fragile, weak ethnic fault lines and sensibilities of their teeming supporters is the only strategy they often apply to win. Lieing more often than not to gain support is prevalent. It is also a north and southern supremacy battle to control the levers of power. One can confidently say that Nigerian politics is anchored on personal or group allocation of power and resources, deficit of ideas and genuine developmental ideals. Mostly powered by who you know, god fatherism and illicitly acquired wealth, politics is only a game played for the benefit of a few. It is a game played by the powerful and money bags to gain power. You may call it a game of the survival of the fittest. It is almost a war. Resorting to being crude, bias and unreasonable to a large extent is one component of it.

Promoting ignorance and weaponizing poverty among the electorate is another strategy. People say politics is a dirty game on account of how brutally and unfairly it is played. Many with good intentions knowing what transpires in political realm avoid the game without being told. It is a game of the strongest few and the winner takes it all. That was why Nigeria cannot boast of putting forward her best eleven in every political cycle. Nations known to play politics based on the above factors largely remain in the league of the backward.

There is no equity or fairness in Nigerian politics. A group of elitist class most often than not sit over a forty years old bottle of whisky to decide the fate of the entire country. The system has deliberately polarized the electorates to the point that a few naira notes shared determine where the political pendulum swings. Politician who claims to be nationalistic are being clever by half. I think there is none at the moment. The era of patriotism and nationalism ended well before the civil war. At noon, the song of patriotism is rendered but in the dead night when nocturnal meetings take place the true self of politicians are revealed. We listen to series of confessions which tended to promote oneness but the deep ethnic divide has refused to disappear from the political scene as groups are pitched against the other on account of personal or regional interests and scramble for resources.

Those who by virtue of their positions and are compelled by the constitution to be nationalistic in behaviour and attitude even do so grudgingly. Most times they even sideline the constitution they swore to uphold. The past administration of Muhammadu Buhari was known for its eight years of non-stop nepotism, uncommon ethnic bias and bigotry. The item called federal character was completely neglected even though it was a basis for sustaining regional equity in governance.

One needs to understand the complexities of Nigerian politics to be able to stop silly arguments and insults to friends, families. Those who at every cycle of politicking volunteered to donate time, energy and resources in promoting failed and old politicians, hate and divisive tendencies should as a matter of fact reassess their positions. As the politics of who becomes the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives raged on, as usual they formed group interests and divided the opinion of Nigerians. It was a game of who wins and the benefit of supporters of the winner – nothing more. For example, Senator Ali Ndume who led the emergence of Godswill Akpabio as the Senate President is angling for a reward for a job well done so also are others. He was asked by Seun of Politics Today to assure Nigerians that Akpabio will do well. And he declined, saying he does not know what may happen next minute. This was a man who sold the candidature of Akpabio a few hours before the interview. Those who promoted Muslim/Muslim ticket yesterday turned out proponents of religious balance in the National Assembly today because it was designed to favour them. Funny indeed!

They differ when it does not favour them, play ethnic and religious cards to win. It was not out of place to find Kashim Shatimma who is a beneficiary of joint Muslim ticket to pontificate on the need for a Christian head of the Senate and National Assembly. He said, “for me under the current dispensation, the worst, the most incompetent southern Christian is better than the most puritanical northern muslim for the presidency of the Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria.” Our responsibility as citizens is to join hands together to defeat this class of people who have succeeded in setting the nation backward. They are those who have positioned themselves and their lackeys in institutions that will determine their political, economic and security fates to the detriment of all.

Politics no matter how selfless they try to make us believe it is in Nigeria is about achieving personal goals and interest clothed with regional and patriotic drives. If politics is fair, beneficial and in the overall interest of the people, the salaries and emoluments of the president, governors and members of the National Assembly should not have been increased to 114% while minimum wage remained thirty thousand naira. The prices of primium motor spirit otherwise known as fuel should not have been left at its current exorbitant prices if they care. They would not be seeking health care abroad while our hospitals remain mere clinics if they act patriotism which they preach. The nation will move forward only when an average Nigerian realizes that competency, character and capacity matter in governance. The people should also know that it is their rights to demand for accountability from those they gave their mandate. Voting for politicians is an exchange deserving of commensurate compensation in terms of good living conditions and positive actions from the politicians themselves.

Eze, a media and development communication specialist, writes via [email protected], 08060901201