Once in a while the unexpected happens in life and there is drama. If it is very unexpected, it can be called high drama. It is too early to say whether the issues surrounding Mr. Ibrahim Magu, until recently acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is just drama or if it qualifies as high drama.
An important point – drama may reflect life but it is not reality, nor does it change reality. Drama is (usually) fiction. The Nigerian political establishment is a world of unending drama.
Within weeks, historical drama shows debuted. Magu was on centre stage, facing a probe panel on allegations of corruption. The opponents of Magu, who until then has been leading anti-corruption efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, were overjoyed. They would like to see him in more trouble, perhaps in jail. Magu’s supporting audience hailed him for his good deeds and accused Attorney General Abubakar Malami of being the chief architect of Magu’s predicament. The pro-Magu people hauled loads of accusations of corruption on Malami.
Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) opened its can of worms to the public. An allegation of 40 billion Naira corruption within NDDC was being probed. Former acting MD for NDDC, Dr. Joy Nunieh, exchanged strong accusations with Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, on mismanagement of the agency. The public struggled to comprehend how billions of Naira were doled out for strange and non-existent projects. The drama took a new turn when NDDC’s acting managing director, Prof. Daniel Pondei, fainted during his session with the House Committee questioning him. Since it was established in 2000, NDDC is reported to have created many corrupt billionaires whilst development of poverty-ridden Delta region has stood still.
More drama still as preparation for elections shifted into top gear in Edo and Ondo States. The governor of Edo State could not win the nomination of his All Progressives Congress (APC) political party to run for second term as governor. He left the APC and joined the arch rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that immediately made him its gubernatorial candidate. As if in exchange, APC brought in PDP’s former governorship candidate to take APC’s seat. Overnight, the candidates started to denounce their previous political parties.
In Ondo State, deputy governor of APC ruling party abandoned his principal and joined arch rival PDP with his eye on being the governorship candidate. He did not get PDP’s nomination. Immediately, he left PDP and joined yet another party, Zenith Labour Party. He has belonged to three parties in less than a month. How dramatic!
The political campaigns in Edo and Ondo States consume as usual all the time, funds and resources of the two states. The campaigns, as usual also, suck in resources from other states and the centre. Many political jobbers, contractors and anyone who is well positioned push hard to get contracts for electoral activities. Many ordinary people push hard to get hand-outs and “palliatives” from politicians during campaigns because it will be dry days once elections are over.
In all of the drama of Magu Versus Malami, NDDC’s revelations and political shifting sands in the two states, what is in it for Nigeria? Zero is the answer.
Many years ago, whilst he was former head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo accused for the first time then ruling military President Ibrahim Babangida of running a corrupt government. A friend, on hearing the news, screamed that Nigeria was in somersaults. Nigeria would undergo a turn-around, he chanted. Real, indeed, I screamed back sarcastically.
The optimist friend believed the drama and I did not. I could not see what benefits the dramatic spat between the two political friends would bring to Nigeria. Since the time, Obasanjo’s letters to sitting Presidents in Nigeria, including the current one, have become regular shows and predictable comedies. The reality has dawned that the letters only draw a lot of attention to the writer and provide him a stepping board into the next political stage.
The list of high and low drama is unending: top politician Mr. Abubakar Atiku left one political party and joined another, and left again, and returned to the original party; former governor Ibori was jailed, Ibori is welcomed home by crowds of supporters and political stalwarts; probe of fuel subsidies in billions of Naira paid for non-existent fuel, and no outcomes; Mr. “Integrity” Farouk Muhammed Lawan of House of Representatives was shown on video as he packed wads of allegedly bribe US dollar notes into his pockets and cap, life goes on; PDP wins, APC loses, and vice versa, yet same names are in charge; Babangida wrote President Goodluck Jonathan on wrongdoings, Babangida denied writing; former minister of defence General Theophilus Danjuma’s crusade against cattle herders, then he visits Aso Rock and his businesses remain intact; Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano stuffed US dollars allegedly bribe money into his flowing robes, and then wins for second term; then Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alleged that $20 billion was missing, and later on he himself will be remembered as emir of opulence; former governor Orji Uzor Kalu was jailed for corruption, Kalu is released….
The dramatis personae no longer change much. When their political parties or the names of parties change, the political drama remains constant. All for self and nothing for the country and its people. Or at best, very little service, here and there. The known names appear on stage to feast, pose, stay on, or disappear to the wings until another day.
The drama scenes are characterized by poor governance, use of masses as canon fodders, corruption, continuing insecurity, huge unemployment, low wages, dilapidating infrastructure, weak economy, poor well-being of humans. The sad situation has become etched in the meaning of what is called Nigeria.
It is almost wishful thinking, but can there be some “incident” where drama awakens its own actors to a new reality and metamorphosises to nation building? Either by accident or purposefully, can a change of heart or mindset happen within the political kingdom and result in a sense of duty, leading to transformation of the nation?
Whilst waiting for water to come out of a rock, a feeling or sense of nation-building should keep right-thinking people awake. Such people should repeat at every opportunity goal and aspirations that can improve and meaningfully turn Nigeria around, especially to the hearing of youth and young people in general.
As the known names bring their dirty linens into the open, Nigerians should accept the fact that the key characters in the political drama are stained badly and cannot make this land a better place. It is important to think seriously and work strenuously towards a new leadership cadre for the country.
In the ongoing drama of neglect and abandonment of young people to a sordid future, perhaps desperation will lead some people to demand a new compact for the society.
From the consequences of unhappy drama that manifest ceaselessly, perhaps some inspired leadership will emerge and truly redirect the country. It is possible that current social and economic disillusionment will inspire a new direction.
Perhaps also the inordinate acquisition of wealth that leaves most citizens in penury and wanton neglect may force a sympathetic view. Such a new direction may awaken the conscience of people, stir unexpected strong followership that breaks the cohesion of dominating political parties. Perhaps it will beckon to a new generation that will take advantage of it.
Young people overwhelmingly constitute the largest majority of the population. They have no meaningful future ahead of them. They have no means of running out of the country. They may have to force renewal and give the country a new breath, beyond the drama of Magu’s probe panel, and the rest.