Watching political events unfold in Nigeria is akin to viewing the rough cut of a badly written, woefully directed and idiotically produced Nollywood movie. You will actually see some movements when there is none, it doesn’t really matter if you are using a first class device or not. The plot involves an everyday certified process of cooking, washing, kissing someone, fighting and in general, an unencumbered display of rehearsed idiocy by the likes of Mr. Ibu, Nkem Owoh or Aki and Pawpaw. Exciting and disgusting, isn’t it?
That, exactly, is the feeling you have when listening to a Nigerian politician strut his stuff on national television. They talk without depth, lacking conviction and showing obvious signs that they don’t even believe what they are saying. Yet, we clap on and hail them as messiahs.
It explains little about their intentions though. We are burdened with listening to their half-baked lies and repetitive promises (one they never intended to keep) of light, water, roads and food. It is obvious that Nigeria is a backward country by many standards and the quality of discourse on the political scene lends irrefutable credence to this assertion. They campaign about their lack of shoes (never mind that they are lying) while growing up to how they have nothing –including a working brain- and promise heaven on earth without a plan on how to do it.
Fast forward to when the elections come into place, new mathematical formulas are devised. The 1979 elections was a watershed moment in our electoral history, in the sense that many interpretations of a particular provision in the electoral law sprang up. Depending on which camp you belonged or which calculations you applied, there were no winners, both Shehu Shagari and Obafemi Awolowo couldn’t fulfill the requirements of the law but our revered Supreme Court Justices proceeded to mush up the “clumsily worded section”. It also applies to the 1993 elections when Ibrahim Babangida had troubles with what exactly constituted the majority in a free and fair election.
You must be getting bored. I know. Let us quickly review the NGF elections and my claim that Nigerian politicians are mathematically challenged. In an election where two (2) candidates contested for a seat and thirty five (35) people were involved in the proceedings without anyone abstaining; it took the emergence of a secretly recorded video for us to understand what actually happened. Bear in mind that 35 is an odd number, meaning that a winner must emerge if no one abstains (as it happened).
The crux of the matter became: 16 or 19, which is higher? As ridiculous as it sounds, they actually had trouble understanding the mathematics involved in recognizing the arithmetic sequence that will determine the higher number. Our President must be one of those arithmetically challenged individuals. He actually congratulated Jonah Jang of Plateau on his success at the NGF elections and hosted his faction which has the “superior number” of 14 in their ranks.
This takes me to the days of Obasanjo. From Ladoja’s impeachment in Oyo State to the sack of Peter Obi in Anambra State one thing stood out; our politicians lack basic knowledge of arithmetic. It is alien to their culture.
So, I wasn’t really surprised when all it took to impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly was the “majority of 5 lawmakers”. It made sense and validated what most of us have suspected long ago, that Nigeria is a country where logic has no value. More importantly, to our political class, 16 is greater than 19 while 5 can form the two-third of any number higher than 20 when it matters -shrewd thinking right?
In a move that reechoed the impeachment of Joshua Dariye as Governor of Plateau State by a 5-man House of Assembly (with Federal might at their disposal) in November 2006 and the subsequent swearing-in of his deputy as Governor, the Rivers State house of Assembly, with 5 members –and a glaring presidential backing- thrust the sword out and slashed the constitution in a show of shame befitting only the lowest of animals, destroying a “fake maze” and tacitly elevating the first lady to the position of a kingmaker.
This is 2013. it is just few months before landmines prepared for the next general elections -that so many people believe is the “breakpoint” in our history- start claiming victims (I don’t share this sentiment) and we are already witnessing political maneuverings that is fast eclipsing the darkest moments of the Obasanjo presidency; all under a shoeless and “humble” president. It looks like we are in for a treat.
I’m still wondering how we got to this point. I do know, but I never imagined that we would just discard the valuable lessons learnt under the Obasanjo autocracy and suppress them as just bad patches. The more our political class practices their voodoo arithmetic when elections are concerned, the more ominous it gets for us to actually boast of a “partially free” election.
Like I pointed out in the beginning of this piece, it has been a long time coming and the changes we have seen is that their voodoo arithmetic has evolved over time. In the next few years, with the rate we are evolving, Five (5) people will elect the president of Nigeria with no one seeing anything wrong with it. We would have truly evolved……in a country where the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has more budgetary allocation than its power sector and Agricultural/Rural development.