Revisiting Remnants: The Business of Politics

Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Truth be told: we all are part of our problems – the governed and the government, especially in areas of public and private accountability in the management and intercourse of economic interests.

  Big-time business leaders have racked up debts so big that the government had to create an amorphous bank to buy up those system-wrecking loans and bad debts; perhaps to somehow redeem some of them down the line. These are loans and overdrafts that you hear about and blink several times, wondering what sort of collaterals were accepted to release such humongous amounts; and why such collaterals could not be amortised to defray substantial part of these so-called bad debts. Many companies, and banks, have collapsed because of sharp practices and irresponsible underhanded deals which were subsequently squandered on unrelated and unprofitable ventures and acquisitions. Airlines, manufacturers, assemblies, exporters, etc, have shut down for sundry reasons; but we have hardly seen many prosecuted for squandering public funds entrusted to banks and hedge funds.

  Taxation and evasion are issues woolly and worrisome in this clime. Many, corporately and individually, have developed plans and processes that challenge the efficacy and capacity of revenue collection agencies. We deign to pay taxes because we have hundreds of reasons why the government does not deserve a portion of our sweat; however a system not fully accommodated in unreliable periods would not suddenly correct itself, and swiftly become sacrosanct when we achieve a modicum of a dependable society. 

   The fourth element that we need to tackle before we can reap and sustain the full benefit of a great nation is this: We need to fix our Politics. No sophistry, manifesto, propaganda or declaration of ethical reorientation can change the minds of present operators and concessionaires of our politics, such that they will somehow turn a good leaf, and start oozing goodness. Only in the movies.

  A candid appraisal of the way we practise politics, and consequently approach governance, clearly shows that our current pass of poverty, inadequacy and inequalities will only mature, mutate and produce more millions of deviants and desperados. The lament is real; our politics is farcical and Machiavellian, when you pause to remove the veil of partisanship and other base sentiments. Irrespective of the political party, the state or locality, Nigerian politicians, with few exceptions, often seek different ways and waifs to foist instability and discontent when they are not directly in power; while those clutching the levers of government spend several hours each day fomenting terrors and tortures for their restless opponents, even when it is clear that they are not in any position to resist the damnation, nor are they capable of projecting any spunk of challenge.

  Within this mix of moves and counter-moves, it is certain that many lives would have been lost in street and nocturnal confrontations; property and possessions destroyed; the innocents – unaware or ill-fated by mere association – are usually the collateral appendages for future justification of reprisal, or indemnity for juicy appointments and other patronage.

 Many of us see the beasts and brutes in politics, and swear never to sit in council with them, so as not to be contaminated by their viruses; yet we are mesmerized, and therefore enticed, by their prodigious affluence and uncountable wealth locked in dungeons impenetrable to weak monetary and fiscal institutions and watchdogs…

Clearly, our political parties and politicians have different definitions of vision, spirit and power. We chant those words at rallies, in our manifestos and in debates, but the actions and identifiable policies of our political class show they have a scant understanding of the meaning and examples of vision in governance. Twenty three years into the fourth republic, we are still grappling with the philosophies and raison d’être of our major political parties, when you consider their actions, unspoken characteristics and words that are delivered in moments of national sobriety. 

  Sometimes, you are left with a lingering feeling that apart from the seemingly obvious fact that in many states, and federal institutions, our best and brightest have been shunted out of prominence; we have now formatted a process that denies and forbids some of our best and brightest minds any hope of sitting at the table of power and influencing the future and the potential prosperity of this country.

  When you mention the ridiculous matter of corruption, every politician, irrespective of party affiliation, seems confused about the groans of the ordinary Nigerians on soaring cases of corruption, in high and low places, despite the so-called anti-corruption activities of this current regime. We are not too amazed though, as we remember that since the 1970s when the phenomenon of armed banditry escalated after the civil war, and multiple coups, we have continued to witness the great exploits of our anti-robbery squads even as the spate and madness of armed robbery soared. In fact, up until the dissolution of the Special Anti-robbery Squads (in 2020), amid general protests (#EndSARS), it appeared to many that the law enforcers were becoming more notorious and draconian that the robbers we set them up to curtail. 

  The reason the case of politics is endemic, and very difficult to treat, is the abdication of responsibilities by organs created to deflect and redress excesses of the executive arm of government which is largely populated by politicians. The legislative and judiciary arms of government have failed the citizens more often than not. While the case of the legislature is sadly understandable, as they are filled to the brim with politicians whose veins are throbbing with the baser component of the lamentable virus; that of the judiciary is particularly worrisome. We believe that most members of the bench are not politicians, though sometimes, the pronouncements and ambivalence coming from that arm make us wonder if the same virus has not marginally contaminated our pristine institution. 

  Add that to a disruptive and defective electoral process, where even professors cannot be trusted to keep their fingers in their pockets, bedeviling what ought to be a sacrosanct duty with the corrosive infestation of the politicians’ viruses. The desperation of the politicians, exemplified by the brigandage of political thugs and compromised electoral umpires, set us up for a macabre drama in circles. Is it now possible to tell hungry and harried voters, who see politicians as vultures sitting over the carrion of the national treasury, not to demand to be paid in consumables and tokenism before they will surrender their votes? It’s a damning circle of poverty: one of mind, the other of stomach… but the end is the same: catastrophe!

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