Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
There are two characteristics that typify and stamp out the average Nigerian politician. The first is their penchant for jumping ship from the left to the right and vice versa. In other words an average, Nigerian politician could be with a progressive party today and leave literally the next day for a conservative one and vice versa. It has happened many times before our very eyes under this dispensation as our politicians change camps now and then between the two major parties, the way they change their boxers so to speak. And officials of the parties are always eager to welcome the decampees with open arms, praising them to high heavens, notwithstanding that the new or returning defectors had once rubbished their new found party with their caustic tongue. And indeed the typical Nigerian politician has a vitriolic tongue which knows neither boundaries nor the intrinsic powers of the spoken word…..
Many APC standard flag bearers for forthcoming general elections were staunch PDP members while many PDP candidates today also once wined and dined with the APC as their core members. In defecting among parties as it pleases them, our political class show their lack of conviction and principle. They are like a lightweight feather that gets blown off with the first whiff of wind to wherever; they are not as constant as the northern star that remains in its position irrespective of the whims and caprices of outrageous fortune. In lacking conviction our politicians show their true character – that they are not reliable as such. They can be likened to those people in Biblical times who shouted “Hosanna, Hosanna” at a time and “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”, at another time. But it is not only amongst politicians that we find such people; they are practically everywhere – in families, social and economic settings. A true friend is one who stands by you come rain or sunshine. Thence, would you not rather have one or two people you can truly call your friend(s) than to have a plethora of so-called friends who jump ship at the slightest change of circumstance?
Another notable albeit ugly characteristic of the average Nigerian politician is their unrestrained tongue. They are good at tongue lashing. Pray you do not cross their path when they are in a vexed mood. For then, you would wish to stay in a corner of a rooftop than in an expansive, tastefully furnished room of such a politician. It is said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I think hell has no fury like a Nigerian politician scorned or who loses out. This distasteful manner of speaking came to light during campaigns for the 2015 elections. Those we were embittered by outcome of that election continued with it and now it seems to have become a norm among our politicians and in our politics. Can we expect anything better when they descend to the level of exchanging hot words and blows and use underhand methods in their bids to secure party tickets as though their life depends on it; When they scold one another in the national assembly and engage in other unparliamentary conducts like pointing fingers at one another, making noise when a lawmaker has the floor speaking, seeking to drown a dissenting voice, seeking to disrupt proceedings through rowdiness and even fighting?
Decorum, decency and constructive criticism which should be the hallmark of democracy appear to have been shoved aside by our politicians, replaced by insults, abuses and ridicule. As I stated it started with the 2014 campaigns and a foremost disciple of this disparaging language was a former governor of a southwest state, followed by a former aviation minister also of south west extraction.
But as I also noted it has now percolated to both sides of our political divide. The governor of a north western state which used to be the regional capital of northern Nigeria once cursed the state’s three senators for blocking passage of a World Bank loan. He was later told by clerics that cursing is unislamic. Even the acclaimed ‘gentleman’, former president, Goodluck Jonathan once referred to his predecessor, his benefactor so to speak, as behaving like ‘a motor park tout’. Governor of the state that hosted last PDP convention railed against the party’s officials and presidential aspirants for allegedly plotting to move the venue to another state, vowing that should that happen those of them found to have a hand in it would taste Rivers’ fury. He later apoligised for his undignified outburst.
If we concede that the PDP as opposition party and ‘wailers’ embittered by results of 2015 elections with a disdain for current occupant of Aso Rock are used to pouring out venom, what shall we say of the vituperations oozing from the mouths of those who lost out in APC’s primary elections, not least governors. Before he withdrew from the Lagos state APC primary election, Governor Akinwumi Ambode called his rival, now the gubernatorial candidate, Jide Sanwo-Olu, a drug addict and criminal. To date, the governor has not publicly apologised to Sanwo-Olu for such derogatory remarks. Consider also the language being deployed by Governor Rochas Okoroocha, Governor Olu Amosun and Chairman Adams Oshiomhole among others, in their tango over outcome of their states’ primaries. One allegedly says, ‘If I say what I know Nigerians will burn Aso Rock in 24 hours’. Another something to the effect, ’if APC provoke me further I will spill what we cooked in APC…’, while the chairman directing his tongue to the embiterred governors alludes that they are suffering from ‘ ‘(drug addiction) withdrawal syndrome’. Our political leaders of whatever hue should remember that they serve as role models and this should reflect in all their conducts in thoughts, words and deeds.