By Ali M. Ali.
The monkey resembles man is a crude translation of the Hausa proverb ‘Biri ya yi kama da mutum’. With that, I was not, altogether, surprised by the Senate President, David Mark’s declaration two days ago to the effect that the almighty year 2015 may not be. Mark mayor may not be aware of this. The idea of not conducting election next year has been sauntering the land for quiet sometime. Those feeding fat on the current disorder have hawked this precise position, for sale. Conducting election under the prevailing atmosphere, for the government at the centre would be politically suicidal. The resort to extension by whatever means possible has long been canvassed for. There are people like me who strongly suspected that the insurgency lingers precisely because it benefits the existing status quo. Mark’s latest position merely confirmed what has been in the market square for ages. It has been in the realm of speculation that the current actors don’t mind throwing the baby along with the bath water so long they would remain in the cosy chambers of power. Vigilant Nigerians, however, have severally kicked against the idea of tenure extension by whatever guise.
According to Mark, the 2015 election is “not on the table” for now because the nation is at war with Boko Haram.
The Senate President is not a greenhorn. His political skills are well honed. They are so honed that as No3, his presence in the Red Chamber outflows so much so that it has eclipsed both Nos 1 and 2. Without calling a spade a shovel, both are basically neophytes where he stands. Mark is a veteran in the esoteric art of power and power plays.
Consider, if you may, this. 30 years ago, and in his 30s, he served creditably well as Minister in the military regime of the gangling General, Buhari. At the time, the current Vice President was a Commissioner in Kaduna state, Mark was a military governor in Niger state. I don’t know where President Jonathan was. Mark has the profile fit to be president in troubled times like these.
The Senate President understands power. He knows how to deploy it. His presidency in the Senate has ensured stability in that hollowed chamber. Before then, the mortality rate of Senate Presidents was unusually high. Under Obasanjo, the life expectancy was a scary 18 months. In eight years, Obasanjo worked with five Presidents. Thanks to Mark’s sagacity. The Senate, under him, has stabilized the nation. Here, I recall the uncertain days of the ‘cabal’ when late Yar’adua was dying and the nation was kept on tenterhooks.
Mark’s adroit political skills reached their zenith in the dark days of the cabal. When others were losing their heads, Mark, like the true retired general that he is, provided leadership.
With Yar’adua terminally ill and a Vice President unsure of the next step, Mark became a magician. He reached into his political hat and pulled out a political rabbit he christened ‘doctrine of necessity’ and made Jonathan ‘acting president’. It made him a little less than a President and a little more than a Vice President.
I am inclined to disbelieve that the Senate President is unaware of the plot to illegally extend the tenure of this regime by postponing the 2015 polls date.
Next year is decisive for most Nigerians. It is the year for an important poll. A poll that would decide a lot of things. For one, it would determine whether the vote counts. It would also determine whether the voter could vote out an incompetent government.
Except for a few, most Nigerians are agreed that the present regime is a spectacular failure. It is a chronic under performer. The president has conducted the affairs of the state with admirable lack of political skills. His leadership has brought forth the worse among citizens. His public conduct of delicate matters tend to polarize the nation along the usual fault lines.
There is a vast majority who would rather have Mark as president than Jonathan stay a day longer as President. 2015 is, therefore, a make or mar election. Pundits maintain that regular election, free and fair, I hasten to add, is the most defining hallmark of democracy. But from what the Senate President said, that may not be. Even by our low standards, it is agreed that we have no business being where we presently are, that is the bottom.
Slips like the one Mark made, make activists slam politicians. Such people think of them as scums often express this. It underscores the disdain some of them hold politicians.
Truly most politicians are bums. Look at some of the defining attributes of a typical politician. He/she is not a statesman/woman. He/she is a master/mistress of double-speaks. No politician talks straight. In Australia or Africa, politicians speak tongue-in-cheek. They say what they don’t mean. And for the heck of it, they mean what they don’t say. They don’t believe what they say. They are therefore; genuinely surprised if ordinary folks believe them.
These descriptions perfectly fit Nigerian politicians like a glove. Unless by compelling circumstance beyond their control, no Nigerian politician wears the ‘statesman’ toga. Former President, Chief Obasanjo comes to mind. He is an example of ‘a political’ statesman. It is in public domain now. He is, currently, donning the toga of a statesman conveniently forgetting that he singly brought the present rot ruining the nation.
The war in the Northeast is winnable. Recent successes recorded by the military attest to that. Only last night, our brave soldiers repelled insurgents in their droves when they made the ill advised attempt to exact their pound of flesh after being previously crushed by our gallant military. When insurgents made lightening in road and annexed territories, it was because some wanted to find a reason for this regime to stay in office beyond May 29, 2015.
Surely Mark as a retired General knows our war machine, if politically supported, he could crush any insurgency in a matter of days. But the political authority, in which Mark is a visible member, is not keen. I am beginning to think he, too, is a politician after all, tongue-in-cheek statements!