Politics Beyond Idealism – By: Gimba Kakanda
JThis week I have decided to reprint an article first published on June 27, 2014, following Governor Kayode Fayemi’s shock election defeat to Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose in the 2014 Ekiti guber race, as it reflects the topic that has bothered me these days – the place of belly politics, otherwise known as “stomach infrastructure”, in the choice of our leaders. With the approach of the election year, it is necessary to reconsider the possibility of a rational choice in a country where nearly half the population lives on less than 2 dollars a day. Enjoy:
The most amusing thing about Nigerian analysts, the outspoken observers of our political evolution into a pseudo-democratic nation, is our shared hypocrisy in reacting to the results of foreseeable public problems. This can be seen, most recently, in our responses to the outcome of Ekiti’s gubernatorial election. In this preparation for the next presidential election, I have personally gone from an intransigent idealist to an unequivocal realist. You will recall that I even wrote, frustrated, in my Friday column at one point to congratulate Goodluck Jonathan as President-Elect for 2015 – a year in advance!
But I forgive the masses. Our politicians undermine the conditions of their uneducated and hungry supporters, educated and unemployed supporters, poor and hopeless supporters, enterprising and economically unhappy supporters and even the sick and destitute, as well as illiterate and financially handicapped dropouts who, in turn, must rely on the policies of those same politicians. There is something wrong, something incestuous and sad in there, it is what Achille Mbembe called “the politics of death”.
Today’s politicians would not have been blamed if their understanding of populism had not been limited to the distribution of foodstuffs while chunks of their budgets were invested in their private enterprises. We inherited a structurally flawed system with a particular class unjustly subjugated and taken for granted by the political establishment. Members of this class are the compatriots whose only dividends from democracy are the “gifts” they receive from politicians in exchange for their votes each election year. They exchange this great abstract value for a much lesser but real value, a bag of rice for example, because they are hungry and a hungry man is an irrational man. And politicians in turn, elected to redeem the welfare of the masses, deliberately avoid doing so simply to keep them dependent and asking for handouts. This is our current step. Dear compatriots, dear masses, the truth is that these “gifts” offered to you were paid for with your own public funds or are otherwise the product of an abandoned or inflated community contract. It’s your loss when a politician who tries to match the value of your vote with an equal value in the infrastructure is shown the way out. The “stomach infrastructure” only lasts for the time of the next trip to the toilet. And imagine how many trips to the bathroom you poor ignorant masses will experience in contrast to the FOUR years of looting your vote gives the politician. Understand this and see how blinded you are!
So, what future for APC? APC, to some it’s ‘old wine in a new bottle’, but being the first time the opposition has emerged with the strength to put the government in place on its toes, I am, as a citizen unimpressed by the status quo, ready to settle for another form of bottle compared to the old one which is no longer practical to carry! This is the height of my realism as a citizen in search of “open air”. I think it’s time for the opposition, for whom I have sympathy, to do politics beyond unachievable idealism. The APC needs, for the upcoming election, a credible presidential candidate on the street, identifiable by the masses: a Buhari or an Atiku or any member with their influence. These are brands that do not need to be reintroduced to the masses, being Head of State and Vice President respectively. As for the personality of these two, I have my opinions, favorable and detrimental in some respects. But I strongly believe that with a well-built party structure, especially at the grassroots, they can be renamed and managed for the greater good of Nigeria. Our political immaturity is so pronounced that if a visionary Fashola emerges as the APC presidential candidate today, with his utterly modern ideology, and opposes a robust, pocket-pocketed and destructive, Fashola will lose in a free – and (UN) fairly induced – election. It’s that simple, that brutal.
There is, however, another problem: many of our political analysts see alignment and sympathy for a political cause as compromising, because they confuse neutrality with objectivity. It’s absolute self-deception to say you’re neutral in choosing which side to promote between oppressed and oppressor, especially when the oppressive incumbent has let the people down, is insensitive to apolitical activism and deaf to the demands of a progressive society. So to say that I am neutral in my political choices means that I have no sense of perception, knowing that this crucial decision determines my well-being as a citizen. Objectivity, for me, is the ability and the wisdom to criticize one’s own when they are wrong and others when they oppress him and his family.
Also, in their analyzes of Third World democracy, our authors have shown an absolute ignorance of practicable political idealism. This is why, since they condemn Bola Tinubu as a “thief and nothing but a thief”, they cannot name an alternative capable of ousting the opposition forces led by the GEJ. As they promote impractical idealism in their quest for spotless political saints, they should be ready to be “governed” by the YEG again from 2015 onwards. It’s as simple as that.
We, the would-be urban middle class activist lobby, have no choice but a ploy to get existing members of the establishment to serve us – to compete to give us the best, the best deal , for our votes. We must join together to remind them that unless the development of rural communities and the well-being of the urban masses are given the same attention as the construction of bridges and the installation of streetlights in our cities, only money and of course “rice”, not promises, can get you to vote. of this manipulated class, largely based in villages only remembered in election years.
That’s why we have to get rid of our butts. And the price of victory, whether by the PDP or APC establishment, will not, must not, be mere sacks of rice. We must demand bridges and free zones, specialized hospitals and quality education. I am a political realist, I will be bribed but I will only be bribed with something concrete, like roads, hospitals and electricity, not sacks of rice and Maggi. And this is a message to the political elite, the Establishment-Gimba Kakanda will be at the forefront of a new bloc with new demands. If you want my vote and the vote of my bloc, come and negotiate, we speak the language of public works and economic infrastructure. This is a look back at my political education over the past few months. And political literacy is not acquired in the classroom, it is acquired in our ability to strip ourselves of polarizing feelings by making political choices.
We need to stop thinking that ‘Third World’ politics is about writing ‘deep’ articles, composing tweets and writing deep Facebook posts and yelling at ourselves about how things should be run from our air-conditioned rooms and offices. As long as we just shout and write about failing governments without struggling to infiltrate the ranks of the “laboratory politicians” whose incompetence is causing this unrest, we are complicit in the downfall of this nation. I check. I take a stand. May God save us from ourselves!