By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The rulers of Nigeria are jokers. Not comedians. Comedians can and often do positive things. Jokers don’t; they can’t. Ali Baba, Gordons, I go dye, Basket Mouth and Okey Bakassi could make you laugh, shed tears, and forget your sorrows. Of course, you would feel good after the dose of comedy. Besides, an erstwhile comedian in Ukraine has taught the world how to govern, how to be tenacious, to be inspiring, both at peace time and when a country is at war. He has become a hero overnight. He will never be forgotten in the story of resistance. He did not flee the country to deliver speeches from exile. He stood like a soldier.
I am very sure that if Boko Haram miscreants were to attack Abuja, all the jokers masquerading as rulers would scamper out of Nigeria, away to Europe and America, perhaps disguised as persons of the opposite sex! Already, several of them cannot visit their hometowns and villages. The other day, those scoundrels attacked the home state of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and kidnapped a traditional ruler!
Abuja is a composition of jokers in the corridors of power. They may look serious. But they are indeed jokers. They are joking with the destiny and lives of millions of hapless citizens. I wonder if Aliko Dangote or Tony Elumelu or Femi Otedola would agree to hire those jokers as managers in their businesses! Certainly, a serious business concern like MTN will not hire these jokers to conduct business on their behalf. A joker is ‘someone who likes telling funny stories or doing stupid things to make people laugh’! How many of us watched the Frank Spencer serial? Frank was the joker in the comedy ‘Some Mothers Do have Them! Did I get the title right? Some countries do have them, can be used to develop a Sitcom of how Nigeria has wobbled in the last eight years! A joker could also refer to a ‘person who has done something that annoys you! As we all know, jokers are not to be taken seriously. Achebe refers to them as ‘efulefu!
Today I am going to play the joker by describing the jokes and jokers who bought Expression of Interest Forms in PDP and APC. The first joke was the cost of the form, fixed by a government that rode into power on the anti-corruption horseback! A whopping one hundred million naira! Someone did a quick math and concluded that the salary of the President for eight years will not sum up to one hundred million. We all thought it was a joke, we thought that only a few persons would cough out that amount of money to buy a worthless sheet of value, whose value was ascribed than earned. Alas, the joke was on us! A long queue soon grew from the ashes of greed and infantile optimism. Some who could not manage a Ministry opened loud mouths to proclaim aspiration to the Presidency. Labour and Productivity and Education ministers wanted to be President though under their watch all federal universities had been shut down for three months! In their wild thinking if a man as competent, sagacious, purpose-driven, healthy as the incumbent could ruin the country, who would doubt their own skills and energy since they did not spend weeks or months in London hospitals! So, our beloved President, Technical Conqueror of Boko Haram was their model.
Serving Ministers and a few legislators all filed out to ogle the national pie. Soon, it became clear that what the aspirants had fallen into was a bazaar to build a war chest for the forthcoming elections. The Executive branch of government attempted to scuttle the provision in the Electoral Act that could have made aspirants remain in office while jostling for power they know will not get to them! It failed. The greatest joker of them all was the CBN Governor! This man has been the only CBN governor to get a second term in the last thirty or so years. Not satisfied, while sitting atop the affairs of CBN he thought he could meddle into politics. Having exposed himself a card-carrying APC member he is the biggest joker of then all!
But the Joker was on them. After collecting osusu of one hundred million naira each, Baba Aso Rock told them to resign. See the rash of withdrawals! Including the controversial Attorney-General and Minister of Justice who had bought luxury cars for delegates and other political persons in his home state. He had set his eyes on Government House in Birnin Kebbi. Alas, he has had to shelve his dream.
While the APC hierarchy was dancing naked in the public square, PDP was swimming in a pool of self-delusion. It was announced that the man who flew PDP flag in 2015 had teleported to APC, and that Miyetti Allah had bought forms for him! He denied it. News came that he is still in PDP. Right now, Oga Joe escapes classification. PDP had preached zoning the Presidency to the south as a policy. Now, there is pussyfooting. The policy has somersaulted like a man struck with the notorious love juju ‘magun’ and opened the presidency for anybody! The price tag of Expression of Interest form was not as high as that of APC. You know, being outside government, they are not privy to the contents of the national honeypot. Yet, these are jokers? How did we land in this hot stew with fires as hot as hot can be?
How can anybody take these fellows, including their oga, seriously? The young people are watching askance at the men and women dancing in the public square. These are people who cannot manage a firm of three persons, now entrusted with the destiny of millions!
Sadly, these jokers are not making us laugh. They are making buckets of tears for millions of families. Let us tell them that the circus show should end. A new spirit should come down. To be sure, the jokers will not part with power without a fight. So, those who want the jokers out of power must rise to the occasion and use the ballot box to chase the baldheads of town!
Professor Hope O. Eghagha (BA, Jos; MA; PhD, Lagos) MNAL
Department of English
Faculty of Arts
University of Lagos