A war is brewing, a political war, and it is expected to be full blown this January, in the year of our Lord 2015. The year 2015 is shaping up as Nigeria’s year of destiny. Well, I don’t buy into that doomsday prediction of some American crank heads who are trying to lay a R.I.P wreath on Nigeria’s tombstone. It is wishful thinking and will not happen. Rather, given its own exploding ethnic and linguistic acrimonious divides and creeping Hispanic take-over of Southern and Western USA, America should be more concerned about its own survival. That is a topic for another day and should not delay us.
With the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) as presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the party’s primaries, the presidential election contest became a showdown between him and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) , the shoe-in candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was signal for the fireworks to start flying. Enter Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs with the first salvos, describing Gen. Buhari as a serial election loser and unelectable. I admire the sense of humour of President Jonathan, employing an “egbon” (an elder brother) as his attack dog.
At 60 plus, Okupe has been barking and howling at the main opposition leaders, his most ferocious assaults being against Gen. Buhari for, according to him, not living up to economic expectation as a former Head of State and petroleum minister for owning only two houses – one in his hometown, Daura and the other in Kaduna – and not being awash with cash. Okupe apparently celebrates looting by public office holders since the opulence of many is at variance with their legitimate earnings. He also relishes verbal assaults on BAT – but then you wonder why Bola Ahmed Tinubu would condone an uncanny acronym like bat when he is not a nocturnal animal !
There is an irony in Okupe’s current position of an ‘ajebota’ being a domestic aide to an ‘ajepaki’. You see, Doyin was born with exquisite silver spoon in his mouth, his father owning a bank – Agbonmagbe bank – in the days when some other people’s fathers were fishermen with wooden canoes ! As Bobby Dylan sang, times are changing. It does not seem to bother , Okupe, a medical doctor turned domestic staff, if some people dismiss him as a hustler calling a cow ‘brother’ because he is hungry for meat.(Eniti onpemalunibrodanitoriofe je nama).
There is Olisa Metuh, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, another warrior for President Jonathan. In a December 23, 2014 press release, Metuh had stated: “The particular statement by Prof. Oladipo (that Gen. Buhari is a semi-illiterate jackboot) referred to by the APC, we even consider as complimentary”. Some compliment, indeed! This indicates the morbid unthinking that drives this pugilist PDP spokesman. With a huge frame, Olisa apparently thinks political communication is all about intimidating physical presence, not presence of an organized mind. (Apology to my former boss, Aremo Taiwo Alimi) Pa Metuh’s boy reminds me of the postulation of the great Greek philosopher, Plato, who stated that people should assume roles in society according to their natural endowments. By Plato’s notion, Olisa, naturally and generously endowed with bigness, would have been in his natural element as a ‘muscle man’ , a wrestler or better still, a nightclub bouncer and shouldn’t have been saddled with a mentally tasking assignment. Fortunately for this Otolo Nnewi big boy, going to school changed that natural life progression for him. A social media commentator had described Olisa as a charge and bail lawyer who sought initial financial refuge in real estate and is now under the monetary shade of the umbrella.
The principal of these warriors, President Jonathan, has been trying to project as a statesman, making grandiose statements about serving the public good while his foot soldiers act contrarily without him putting these hit-men on the leach. Although he does not have the carriage, but President Jonathan has been trying valiantly, to the best of his limited ability, to come across as being above the fray – to convey an impression of the Majesty of the Presidency. By academic grooming, he reached the pinnacle by earning a doctor of philosophy degree, meeting one of Plato’s basic requirements of high education for the Wise Ruler – The Philosopher King. But he scores zero in Plato’s admonition that the Philosopher King must offer selfless public service by controlling the greed of his stomach (not being materialistic) and the impulses of his heart (not being subject to skirt control !) Even with regard to his high education, the drawback here is that Goodluck’s PhD, I understand, is in zoology, relating to animals. Can that explain his not giving a damn about people, apparently deadened of human emotion, having spent too many of his academic formative years dealing with animals? He probably has a residual illusion that he is still in a zoo, dealing with an ANIMAL KINGDOM. President Jonathan is a study in contradiction. He projects as not being desperate for office, telling us that no position is worth losing the life of one Nigerian but his body movement indicates otherwise. His foot soldiers apparently chose to act according to the dictates of his body movement, his ‘damn it’ posture. So, while he preaches civil political contestation, his ‘Boys’ are on bare knuckle rampage.
The new warrior boy joining the fray is an egghead, Prof. Wale Oladipo, the National Secretary of the PDP, who seemed eager to prove that he can be as acidic as the Okupes and Metuhs. He is part of a pincer movement on an assault mission to destroy the construct of integrity built around Gen. Buhari, the main challenger of President Jonathan in the February 14, presidential slugfest. The Professor had proudly proclaimed that his party is presenting a PhD holder in the presidential election, dismissing Gen. Buhari as a semi-illiterate jackboot. Well, they say this one is a chemist, read analytical chemistry, but the level of his analytical reasoning becomes suspect, if in comparing the two front runner candidates, education wise, he could tag the General, who attended some of the best military academies in the world, including the US Army War College, a semi- illiterate. Actually, the issue here is that rather than semi-illiterate, it should have been semi-literate.
Obviously, this professor not only lacks analytical rigour, he evidently has challenges with use of English! I won’t be surprised if there were several corrections in the minutes of meetings written by this General Secretary of Africa’s largest party before such minutes were adopted. And come to think about it, is Prof. Oladipo telling us their ‘Father’, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, is also semi literate since he too went through a similar military training like Gen. Buhari? Well, maybe we can forgive these Jonathan warriors, considering that these are desperate times in PDP’s presidential camp. Knowing that it will amount to political suicide for Jonathan to run on his record of performance in office, it becomes perfectly legitimate for them to adopt a diversionary strategy. Smart fellows, one must concede to these PDP warriors, as they are defining the issues to their advantage, and putting the APC on the defensive. See how they set the agenda and succeeded in making an issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket for APC and got Bola Tinubu yanked off apparently afraid of Tinubu’s political sagacity and the war chest he would bring to the battle, if he is on the ticket. The latest issue raised by PDP warriors centre on Buhari’s certificates. I suppose for them, all is fair in war. Of course this is war, political warfare. And the PDP combatants, as demolition squads, are rolling out the tanks and missiles while the APC seem to be countering with ‘police action’. So, for now, it is an unequal battle. And like sharks which have smelled blood, the PDP warriors are aiming for the APC jugular, for a knockout by employing emotion-driven psychological warfare. Can PDP’s offensive strategy succeed ?
Dr. Bisi Olawunmi, lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun state can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org . (SMS only: 0803 364 7571)