In societies around the world – more so in agrarian societies like Nigeria, unscrupulous elites have a way of manipulating the poor and the unsophisticated.They do so by appealing to raw emotion and the preliterate sensibility of the gullible. For these elites, religion and ethnicity are nothing but tools with which to influence the vulnerable. Ethno-regionalism, ancient and primordial narratives, along with economic and political promises that may never be kept are also useful implements.
What really matters and what the elites are looking for are gains and advantages. They have one singular motive: Self-interest or the interest of their commune. Nothing more! Not minding the blood and the guts that may be spilled, they want nothing but what they want. Not minding the lives that may be lost, they want nothing but the satisfaction of their needs and wants — even if such needs and wants are soaked with the sweat and blood of their fellow human beings.
But of course such depravities and iniquities are routine in Nigeria. During the 2004-2009 Niger Delta crisis for instance, the elites (in and outside of the region) controlled unsuspecting youths. This was also the case before and during clashes between the Ijaw-Itsekiri-Urhobo youths in Delta State. The elites in the northern part of the country also have a way of manipulating the gullible.
There is nothing godly about a group of people manipulating others to do their grisly bidding. What is so heartless about the Nigerian condition is that many of the susceptible have been made to believe that they are fighting just and righteous causes. In many cases, they’ve been made to believe that they are fighting God’s war. Hence, all over the country, we have a pool of foot soldiers on standby — ready to kill and maim and destroy at the snap of the fingers. This is especially true during election cycles.
In the period before and after elections, cases of planned violence spike. Nobody wants to lose. Everybody, it seems, wants to win. And they want to win at all costs. Elections and politics are no longer about party manifestos and service to the people and to the country. It is no longer about what you or I can do for the people. It is about self and self-glory and about positioning oneself to steal as much as possible. Prof. Pat Utomi captured this well in his article published in The PUNCH recently titled, The enemy is self.
Except perhaps for a handful, Nigerian politicians are bereft of ideas. I am not talking about grand ideas here – just simple and practical ideas to benefit the vast majority of the people. Many are lost in the maze of ignorance. And many more wallow in the ocean of silliness. Day in and day out, they think about how to empty the public treasury; how to corrupt private and public institutions; how to personalise the rule of law; and how to undercut their opponents.
What was the fight between the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice-President Abubakar Atiku some years back all about? What was the fight between Obasanjo and Governor Rasheed Ladoja about? And what was the fight between the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and a former Governor of Oyo State, Ladoja about? It was about who controlled who and what and how. In other words, it was about power and money and influence. And what was the fight between a former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva and President Jonathan all about? Lastly, what does Jonathan want that he fights everybody from Obasanjo to Amaechi? What time does he have for good governance given all these fights?
Please note that these fights and many more all across the country (between the elites) are not fights over ideas and service and commitment to good governance. Again, they are about selfish interests. And this is precisely what the proxy feud between Jonathan and Amaechi is about. Nothing more! None of these men is fighting for the goodness or greatness of the country. No matter how their vociferous friends and ardent supporters may spin it, this is about self-interest. The quarrel is about differences in opinion and approach on how best to steal and to distribute power. Everything else is secondary. Not irrelevant or implausible, but simply secondary!
Yet – yet—we have millions of Nigerians having sleepless nights over this Jonathan-Amaechi feud. There are people out there willing to bat for Jonathan and for Amaechi. There are people out there willing to die for both men. What for? Why? In the first place, this is a fight between two spoilt brats who are seemingly drunk with power and inordinate ambition. Second, both men don’t care, or as the President himself would put it, don’t give a damn, about the welfare of the people. Amaechi is Jonathan and Jonathan is Amaechi. Third, as with elites everywhere, both will “come to their senses” and before you know it, they will kiss and make up.
Jonathan and Amaechi will kiss and hug and make up because, in the end, they will realise that it is in their best interest to put down the sword and continue with their nefarious activities. What’s more, other members of the ruling class – especially within their party, the PDP, will caution both men to “cool it.” Frankly, this fight will not last long. It should be over within the next three weeks with an announcement from one or both camps telling us that “this was a minor quarrel between brothers but was overblown by the press and the opposition party.” This is the way of the elites everywhere, but more so in Nigeria. You must remember this!
Those who don’t remember – or who refuse to remember – would have themselves to blame. But if you didn’t know, well, I am telling you now: Beware and be wise. Do not die for Jonathan or for Amaechi. Do not kill for Amaechi or for Jonathan. If you want to die, die for your rights and for your country. Not for these men. Do not trouble yourself for either men or for any member of the elite. When it is all said and done, they have a way of mending fences; they have a way of making up. Both men and members of their inner caucus will meet to shake hands, of course at your back.
They will meet to iron out their differences, to pop champagne, and to distribute and reallocate power. And then they will share your money. They will share millions and millions of naira, if not dollars, of your money. So, don’t be a fool for these men and for any member of the Nigerian political elite.
You have no uninterrupted electricity; you have no clean and abundant water; you have no good schools, and no access to quality medical care. You have nothing. You have nothing because, in spite of several billions of dollars that have been allocated in the last 53 years — Jonathan and Amaechi and the folk like them refused to do what is right and just. In spite of these and other wickedness, you want to kill yourself for them? Don’t be a fool. Let their wives and children and grandchildren be and play the fool. Let them destroy themselves! Their fight is not for you!