Nude politicians, naked country

 Casmir Igbokwe

First published July 5, 2009 

“My manhood has never gone down and I have never asked anybody to assist me in restoring it. My manhood never failed at anytime. It has always been functioning. My manhood has never stopped working, I repeat, it has never stopped working.”

 That was the erstwhile chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Ambassador Sam Edem. He was reacting to claims by a herbalist, Matthew Sonoma, that he assisted him to regain his manhood. Sonoma reportedly told a federal high court in Abuja last Wednesday that Edem allegedly paid him about N1bn for his services.

 Every week comes with a pot-pourri of some dramatic events in Nigeria and the world. Penultimate week, Taraba people regaled us with tales of missing genitals and those killed for allegedly stealing those private parts.

 Last week came with its own medley of oddities.  There was the story of a passenger who stripped naked inside a plane in the United States. Keith Wright, 50, reportedly resisted a female flight attendant’s efforts to cover him with a blanket. The saving grace was two off-duty security agents on board who subdued the naked man and handcuffed him. The plane was carrying about 148 passengers from Charlotte to Los Angeles.

 Except he is a madman, a Nigerian may never strip himself naked in such a public place. He will prefer a hotel room, a shrine and some other secret places. It is only when something goes amiss that the public gets to hear about such nakedness and what necessitated it.

 That was what happened in the celebrated case of Mr. Wale Alausa, a member of the Ogun State House of Assembly. A national daily had published his naked photograph, accusing him of taking a secret blood oath with some other lawmakers to remove Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State from office. Daniel’s acolytes claim they have the naked pictures of the other 14 lawmakers in this “unholy alliance”.

 Alausa did not deny taking the oath. According to him, Daniel forcibly made him do it in his Sagamu home in 2007 to make him win the election to the state House of Assembly. He claimed Daniel compelled his father, Agboola Alausa, to persuade him to take the oath.

 The next naked picture to go public, as Daniel’s Economic Adviser, Ms Yosola Akinbi, reportedly said, would be that of a female member of the G-15. This will be very interesting. It will be another angle to what we saw after the Ido-Osi electoral magic in Ekiti State about two months ago. Then, old women protesting the election results bared only their breasts.

 A few years ago, our high political comedy was staged at Okija shrine in Anambra State. A former governor of the state, Chris Ngige’s name came up as one of the alleged patrons of the shrine. This type of controversy also surrounded the incumbent governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji. Security agents investigated some of these allegations and promised to reveal the names of those patronising Okija shrine. I’m not sure they have fulfilled this promise.

 Africa has a big problem. It has remained a dark continent despite different efforts to bring light to it. From Gambia to Rwanda, and from Angola to Uganda, there is one form of fetishism or the other. In Tanzania, for instance, you dare not move anyhow if you are an albino, else you may fall a victim of ritual killers.

 This ugly situation appears to be worse in Nigeria because our greatest export to the world is corruption and dishonesty. We profess different religious beliefs; we build the best churches and mosques, but deep down many people’s heart, it is as dark as charcoal.

 Rather than think of scientific ways of solving our problems, we prefer to blame every misfortune as an act of God. Rather than keep our environment clean to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay, we prefer to sleep in prayer houses to cast and bind imaginary witches and wizards bringing sicknesses to our homes. And rather than map out good manifestoes to convince our electorate that governance is all about service to the people, we prefer to take oaths, rig elections and impose ourselves on the people.

 Do you blame the politicians? It is this mentality of grabbing power at all cost that brought “do-or-die” into our political lexicon. Manufacturing concerns are closing shops and relocating to neighbouring countries. Oil companies are shutting down operations. The once thriving telecommunications industry is shaking. The banking sector is sneezing at the moment. Except one is a big-time politician/public office-holder; or a big-time pastor/imam; or a big time herbalist/native doctor; or a big-time armed robber/kidnapper; one cannot be too sure of escaping the current economic meltdown.

 Without any prospect of finding good and lucrative jobs elsewhere, many people find in politics a veritable source of livelihood. And that is why they siphon money meant for development into their pockets. With this money, they take care of their godfathers; they take care of their immediate and remote needs; and they take care of their generations yet unborn.

 Once these selfish interests are taken care of, the nation can burn for all we care. Lecturers can go on strike indefinitely if they like. Tankers can fall and claim many lives on the pothole-ridden roads. Power supply can deteriorate, and hospitals can dispense fake and adulterated drugs. These do not bother us.

 Unfortunately, by our strange actions, we have stripped Nigeria naked. And it is only Nigerians who can cover this nakedness with a blanket of political and attitudinal reforms. The reforms must start from the leadership and then trickle down to the grass roots. Current Nigerian leaders must give the country an effective electoral and political system – a system that must respect the wishes of the people, a system that will discourage dishonest politicians from getting close to the seat of power. We already have the report of Muhammed Uwais-led electoral reform panel to guide us.

 If we follow the recommendations of that committee; if we get our electoral system right, every other thing will likely fall in line. Then and only then can Nigerians rise with pride and tell any foreign or local herbalist that we don’t need his services to restore our potency as a nation.

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3 Comments »

  1. 1
    Manopeace Says:

    I have read many web publications on this subject, and I can say that this very article appealed to my sense of reasoning most. Nigeria need God more than ever before. Not in the kind of way most preachers do to amass wealth for themselves but in the kind of way that wind of change will blow on every citizen of this great country. Great country I said because if we don’t see it great now it never going to end that way. Nigerians! God can feel the pain of our state, help is on the way;things will change. When and how? Is I dont know . . . but I know that every Nigerian has a part to play for things cant continue this way!

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