By Akin Owolabi
The raging war between the political camps of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is much expected. It tilts portentously towards the time-tested aphorism – “all is fair in war” and which synched with: ‘as in politics’. It is indubitable that politics, with its vice twin, economic, is at the root of all the wars – be they local or international – that have been fought down history lane. Most rabid racialism, religious differences and other sources of human bickering pale into total irrelevance in the face of political instigations. Let us leave for a little while the raging Buhari/Atiku war of the moment and examine the role of politics in mankind’s history.
The political dynamite for World War 1 was detonated by the grisly murder of a holidaying royal couple in Sarajevo, dramatically labeled the Sarajevo Murder. Concomitantly, 10 million souls, very precious in God’s eyes, were dispatched to hell – the common grave of mankind. Before the Sarajevo savagery and in anticipation of the gory debacle, the Western World had built political fortifications in the form of alliances. The Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance formed the two platforms for the descent of humanity to epic global carnage. The after-war epidemics cleaned more lives on the globe than the war itself.
World War II – 1939—45 – was more sanguine, more horrendous than the first. In the final analysis, 100 million lives were snuffed out in those two politically driven wars. The 30-month Nigerian Civil War was a mere rivalry between two lieutenant-colonels dragged to conflagration level.
So when it is said that politics is a dirty game, the refrain should be: it is dirtier than anyone could ever imagine. There can never be a game as murky, brutal and bloody as politics. Not microscopic boxing, not wrestling, not even carnal war itself is as sanguinary as politics. Politics is the very theatre, the real field of warfare. Without politics, mankind would have attained the peak of perfection, which is the paradisiac condition ordained by God the Almighty. That is why before the Most High would restore man to perfection in His new dispensation, He would have brought unity among the entire races of humankind, and this would be irrespective of the vastness of diversity. That is, humongous diversity cannot be a problem before the King of Eternity. Sure.
In political arena, the only string that binds, and permanently too, is interest which too, is shifty. Hence, no permanent enemy but permanent (shifty) interest.
People are quick to castigate the Islamic religion for the recent spate of terrorism that has engulfed, rather brought humanity to a dizzying height. This may, on the surface, appear to be true. However, a dispassionate scrutiny would unveil the true cause, which, to all intent and purposes, is political. If it is Islam, said to be a religion of peace, all the Muslim faithful would have rallied round to stem the ugly tide of Muslims killing Muslims or any individual for that matter, whatever the religious persuasion. But the Boko Haram of Nigeria is not entirely after the opposite religion as the insurgents turn their swords and guns and bombs on their co-adherents too.
Politico-economic expansionism was at the root of Saddam Hussain’s annexation of Islamic country of Kuwait while overly threatened Monarchy of the Islamic Holyland – Saudi Arabia – ceded military space to infidel United States of America to repel the truculent Iraqis. The eight-year Iran-Iraqi war, in which weapons of mass destruction, including internationally prohibited chemical weapons, were freely deployed, was fought by two Muslim countries, and concomitantly, hundreds of thousands of Islamic faithful were dispatched into the graves. The only implausible explanation for the Iran-Iraqi conflagration was that the two combatants belong to different Islamic sects.
In Rwanda, the Hutu and Tutsi sliced one another’s throats on a large scale, not basically on religion but ethnic, otherwise political, grounds. The two warring groups were predominantly Catholics. Sadly, when scores of hunted group took refuge in a Catholic monastery, thinking they were on save grounds among fellow Catholics, the Nuns turned them over to the rival group which diabolically slashed their fellow adherents’ throats. What a confirmation that politics is of higher viciousness than belief in different deities! Yes, politics blood is much thicker than religious water.
So-called religious conflicts are political because no true co-religionists would shed one another’s blood without political instigation. Example, the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran led to the execution of many patriots, including top military brass, who were also Muslims.
Germany’s Adolf Hitler’s mission to wipe out Jews from the surface of the earth, resulting in the elimination of 6,000,000 souls of that race, and his vaunting desire to rule the world were due to the presumptuous belief in the superiority of the Aryan Race. Politics is the basis of genuine hatred and the remote and immediate cause of pogroms and ethnic cleansing.
Politics is the grandfather of diplomacy which is the father of insincerity and double talk. Politics is the potent weapon with which Satan manipulates, disrupts, kill, maim, blindfolded humans on the entire inhabited earth.
Let us return home. Buhari who began his presidential quest in 2003 failed woefully until 2015 when politicians saw in him a better way to vent their spleens on sitting President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party. The coalition of political forces, steeped in propaganda and outright falsehood, forced Jonathan out of Aso Rock Villa. Hoodwinked, people began to see the need for a ‘change.’ Now, the scales have largely fallen and the suffusing myopia has greatly ebbed. The change mantra is gone. The contest for next year has narrowed down to Buhari and Atiku. What are the takes?
Atiku’s presidential bidding started after the expiration of his vice presidential tenure and his biggest stumbling block was his political boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, who did everything imaginable to stymie his erstwhile deputy’s ascension. The story stops there.
In 2015, Atiku and Buhari were in the same political party and both bid for the presidential ticket but Buhari clinched it. Atiku conceded defeat and reportedly picked some of Buhari’s campaign bills. The story has changed. Atiku, realising his ambition was not immediately feasible within the party he helped to form and fund, and as he had always done, the mercuric politician moved away to oil his presidential machinery. The intense rivalry that was suppressed almost four years ago has resurfaced, ready to explode.
Buhari and Atiku are from the same race – Fulani – as they say. The two are Muslims, no doubt. The similarities are there and any attempt to separate one from the other in terms of integrity and corruption would fall flat in the face of contemporaneity’s hard facts. One is a Devil that has once beaten Nigerians. The other was a spare tyre for the vehicle of leadership. Nigerians beaten once refused to be twice shy and are still wanting to be further beaten silly.
Head or tail, Muslim would be in the saddle next year, either as a fresher or an old war horse. A Fulani will remain the occupant of the Villa. Why then the intense war, brickbats and castigation? It is interesting to note that the rivalry is neither on religious nor ethnic ground. It is deeper than the combination of religion and ethnicity. Those rooting for either cut across religious divides. The dirty (roforofo) fight is not on the personalities since exaggerated, even patently barmy missiles and claims are darting from the two camps.
The ongoing attrition will not only cost money. It will cost human lives, sacrificed on the blood-sucking altar of politics. It will further impoverish Nigerians living in newly rated capital of World’s poverty. Billions of Naira will pour down the drains in the form of electoral expenses. Life would be more brutish and short. The agents of politics, who unwittingly are potent tools in the hands of the Devil, would not flinch a hoot as their lords of the manor ride roughshod on all of us.
The plain truth is that no decent persons should be seen to be hobnobbing with the Devil masquerading as politics. Decent people, though very few, should not recoil when the evil ones grab the reins of political power. They should be rest assured that the True God will intervene in His due time. Let the filthy people continue with the dirty game of politics.
*Owolabi is a Lagos-based veteran journalist