Oludayo Tade urges the electorate to vote for credible candidates outside the two main parties
Gruesome killings have become a common feature in Nigeria’s geopolitical space as criminals widen their tentacles, arguing over who can inflict the greatest harm. On the other side is the government, elected to protect lives and property, but which seems either powerless to tame them or complicit in evil. Nigeria is fast becoming a state of no norms or a state of nature where life is not only short but uncertain. As All Progressives Congress Presidential Standard Bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu sings Emilokan (It’s my turn to be President), Nigerians are scared of Ta lo kan (who will be the next victim of insecurity) because they have become helpless. I watched the viral video of the torture murder of a Nigerian army couple in the southeast, I saw the emotionally disturbing ‘blasphemous burning’ of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto, and the tyranny of the killings terrorists in a Catholic church in Owo, the home of the incumbent Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) who exterminated no less than 40 parishioners in cold blood and injured more than 70 people. The òwò terror attack on the church was a throwback to the early period of terrorism in northeastern Nigeria when religious institutions were targeted, attacked and victimized. The òwò massacre, if mishandled, will induce fear, fuel a perceived ethnic agenda for dominance over the Southwest, and could dangerously encourage ethnic conflict.
But as the terrorists intimidated the dead in òwò, the bags of money from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Buga (intimidating and dominating) other aspirants through the purchase of delegates. The high cost of nomination forms was designed to exclude others. They also ensured that their buddies became delegates. The role of the dollar in a naira economy highlights why there is insecurity and why Nigeria remains the capital of the impoverished people in the world. Across Nigeria, brooms and umbrella parties are in the political trading market where delegates have become traders of their conscience following the economics of voting the highest bidder as preferred by the leaders of their respective parties.
The manifestos of the aspirants meant nothing because it was a waste of saliva to address people whose ears were plugged with dollars. With the emergence of Atiku Abubakar in the PDP and Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the APC (not forgetting Peter Obi), the journey is over and we should reflect on our own positions in the emerging scheme of things. At least we will objectively agree that not only are those in the camps for internationally displaced persons (IDPs) IDPs, but that many of us are displaced and within that displacement finds our vulnerability to negotiate our survival with extortionists and to beg for allowances.
Kizz Daniel’s song 2022, Buga, presents a useful analytical framework for situating current events in Nigeria and why terrorists see themselves as “working,” and delegates see this as an opportunity to dollarize loyalty. Kizz Daniel stresses the importance of being alert to shoot an opportunity while she is flying because she is a bird that never perches. Therefore, being boring in the face of opportunity is considered reckless. He believes that those who work deserve to be paid, but incidentally, Daniel is referring to the dollar, the popular currency that would have been used during the 2022 party conventions of the two mega political parties which did not significantly improve the life chances of Nigerians but have produced more poverty, insecurity, dilapidated education, health and road infrastructure.
These two parties (APC and PDP) have jointly produced powerful individuals who constantly weaken institutions to allow them unfettered access to the collective heritage. Otherwise, how to explain a government with a cashless policy and a digital naira policy aimed at fostering financial inclusion and controlling fraud by actively participating in activities contrary to their announced policies, all in the name of politics? Politics is certainly an intimidating subject and buggy phenomenon that renders the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) powerless in this case.
“Wake up Don’t sleep, no sleep. Wake up, get your money back (get your money back) Wake up, huh Get your money back (get your money back), wake up (giddem), Gbe’ra (gbe’ra o) Gbe’ra, fetch that mullah (wake up), Oh, ah, mo ni ko kala (kala gb’owo yẹn o) Kala gb’owo yẹn the ọwọ dealerexplains Kiss Daniel, implying that the delegates, a rare status every four years, must seize this opportunity and collect money from the “dealer” as opposed to the leader. A marketer is a trader, a trader who invests for a return for himself and his family, while a leader paves the way for opportunities beyond his inner huddle. For the dealer, by the time the return comes, it will be at the expense of the majority on whose behalf the delegates raised dollars.
Unfortunately, the leadership placement structure in all sectors has been erected by monetized loyalty. Politicians are only the macro-representation of what happens in micro-institutions such as alumni associations, churches/mosques, campus politics, and religious elections in which those who are able to have a positive impact are squeezed out by the weaponization of money.
The terrorists who massacred in Owo are also funded by someone who could benefit from the war economy. Merchants of people’s lives don’t care about the negative consequences of their actions. They are like drug dealers who don’t care how illicit drug use is killing young Nigerians and fueling insecurity. For Kiss Daniel, however, those who “work” deserve their pay regardless of what happens to others. “You don’t work, you don’t try, You suppose that I have, I have, Kilo kan mi kan nobody matters where? Person who is crazy, o, When I land, I land softly on the couch floor, So far so good, koni baje o. The use of the product of “work” also serves to intimidate/dominate. The fight is hard, the stakes are high and the cost is high and in the end those with deep pockets, not necessarily those with what it takes to create positive change for the ultimate happiness of the majority get to the post and society suffers for it. From local to national, how many of these flag bearers want the best living wages for workers? Who among them will be treated in Nigerian hospitals? Who among the aspirants will allow their children to go to public school? Who among them will see their children enter the civil service and earn minimum wage?
The consequences of what happens to us through politics which unfortunately determines what happens in other sectors are contained in Buga’s chorus where Kiss Daniel expects the favored person to buga won (show them off or intimidate them). He says, Let me see you, go low-low-low. Let me see you, go low-low-low, buga wọn, Lemme buga wọn. I see this as a depiction of events during the election period. A typical politician stoops to the level of the marginalized (goes low) and pretends to be at the mercy of delegates and the electorate while they exchange money and make humanitarian interventions to gain support. After elections and when in power, the “merchant” who bought loyalty is now able to intimidate and dominate those who traded with him. At this time, the electorates are now ‘down-down-down’ as they face insecurity, poverty, lack of education and health infrastructure and need the attention of the Buga executive .
The dealer, as the constituted authority, shrugs their shoulders and intimidates them into silence. Wasn’t this the strategy used by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as a candidate and flag bearer? After arriving at the office, Bugarism becomes the trait, and the complaining masses are labeled “corruption fights back”. Today we have landed in the land of the tyranny of terror, despoiled leadership and dollarized patriotism. Unfortunately, commodifying voters is next to impossible with Nigeria’s swooping economic fortunes. But, if we can remain resolute and determined to bring about positive change towards a peaceful, secure and prosperous country, we must go against dollarized/commodified loyalty. Politicians are less numerically among the voting public. If the public mobilizes to be active in future polls and look for more credible candidates among other parties, this could be our way of bringing real leaders into government and showing drug dealers the way out.
Dr Tade, a sociologist writes via [email protected]