Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Decent People Do Not Know How To Fight

I met Dele Ned some months ago. He is working with some people to build a different kind of political party. They want to change Nigeria. His party is the Kowa Party. I am not holding brief for him, it is the conversation we had I want to use as a launch pad.

He said in a particular area of Lagos state, the demographic distribution is along income/education lines. The educated rich live in the posh estates, and the unschooled poor live in the suburbs.What was strange,Dele said, was where the political shots were called. The poor,unschooled, were in charge. 

They were determining the fate of their rich neighbours, not because they were more in number, but because they were more active politically. The rich were too busy with their golf, satellite television, and fine summer holidays, to bother.

And that is a fair representation of Nigerian politics today. The intelligentsia ,who have read all the theories in political science and political economics, do not know how to properly engage in the real world. And when they decide to engage in politics, they are not street smart, they do not understand that there are protocols to be observed. 

They just come to 'shoot the breeze', they love making high sounding speeches that are not understood by ninety percent of their audience. When they see people clapping, they believe they are 'connecting', what they do not know is that they are nothing short of a comic relief.

How many times have you seen a welder aspiring for the the presidency? Never! The welder knows that it is not his time, yet. 

Instead the fellow would go for the council position, later he would graduate to the local government chairmanship, then he becomes a member of the state  assembly, from there he jumps to the office of the deputy governor, and finally he becomes a governor. All this time the educated man is still aspiring,  perspiring,floundering, and not arriving!

There are living examples today of the virtue of patient progression in politics, the Oyo state governor is a former policeman, and his Kogi state counterpart is a carpenter:they are the butt of jokes because of their antecedents. But one thing you cannot take away from them is that they are politically savvy, they worked their way .   

If you suggest  to the Harvard -trained Nigerian politician that he should become a councillor, he would look at you with disdain for denigrating his academic pedigree, prowess and facundity with such a ludicrous suggestion!

He would quote Karl Marx , and Abraham Lincoln ,and round it off with Mahatma Gandhi, to support why he ought to be president. He forgets that he has been out of the country for the last fifteen years, and that the people he is seeking to serve do not know him,neither he them.

It is like trying to get to the last floor of a building ,without coming through the entrance, and up the different floors. He must be superman, or spiderman.

The poor chap prints his posters from Oxford street in London, and distributes them from door to door (he saw Gordon Brown doing the same thing when he was in school in London)

He employs agents who are only out to get their share of the dollars he is so willing to ignorantly part with. On election day he get sixty eight votes out of the sixty eight thousand on offer, and he does not understand. Poor fellow!

Every time I see a Pat Utomi, or Chris Okotie, or Gani Fawehinmi (God bless his wonderful indefatigable soul) aspiring for the presidency, I laugh, and regret, as well. 

I know how they would end up, nowhere! Imagine if we had these individuals in the senate? Incorruptible,upright,and forthright men and women? The place would not be comfortable for the likes of the Yerimas of this world. From there they can build alliances that would propel them to the presidency.

I am not casting aspersions on the suitability of these individuals, they are some of our best, and are eminently overqualified. 

They fall short when they take for granted that the goodwill  they have is all they need to catapult them to the presidency. In Nigeria, goodwill is not enough. You need to be street savvy, you need alliances with those who know the terrain, and where the bobby traps are.

This indictment of the intelligentsia is meant to nudge them into considering a paradigm shift, making the attainment of the presidency a long term, collaborative project; right now they are failing, and falling short, because they are thinking it is a sprint, it is not.

Another factor responsible for the lean harvest so far is the choice of political party; in Nigeria today, nomination by the Peoples Democratic Party is akin to eighty percent success in the polls; the huge machinery of the party is used to facilitate victory, by hook, or by crook. 

I do not subscribe to the methods of the party, but I admire their size. In politics, size is everything. The intelligentsia should consider collapsing these mushroom parties they claim headship of, into one big political juggernaut that can stand in the wind of Nigerian politics; they need to, because, right now they are like blades of grass before the Peoples Democratic Party. 

I rest my case.

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