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HU BI POLITICHAN FO NAIJA?

bai Edwin Eriata Oribhabor, Naija Langwej Promoter, Abuja-Naijiria

Politiks na pawa!
Naija politiks na wa!
Na papa an pikin mata
Na dem get wi kontri pas
Politiks na honi fo Naija…

The above lines are excerpts from a poem written in Naija langwej by Salamatu Sule; a budding Naija poet. Published in If Yu Hie Se A De Prizin; antoloji of puem-dem fo Naija, edited by Eriata Oribhabor (2012),’’ it speaks of politics as a honey-pot that attracts so ‘‘many things’’ to itself. Aptly titled: Politiks de laik honi fo Naija, the poem is about politicians in Nigeria who see politics as a ‘‘hereditary enterprise’’ where a call to service is largely regarded as an opportunity to strategically position one’s children and relatives that must ‘‘take over’’ after one must have stepped down from office/power. For example, if yours truly is appointed into any position of leadership, my family members must be introduced somhau, somhau into different positions of authority as a way of preparing them for the tasks ahead and provide a back-up in kes of inkesiti. Such family relations, who may not necessarily work under me, will be engaged either by hook or crook and posted to different ministries/organisations. Lopsided as this unwritten ‘‘arrangement’’ may be, it has been the norm for many years in Nigeria. Against this background, a handful of families/circles of privileged few ‘‘run things’’ in the name of democracy.

In my study of erroneous impressions of politics in political science, the general ‘‘misconception of politics’’ is popular and sad. If you ask the average Nigerian what politics stands for, you are mostly likely going to hear something like, ‘‘It’s a game or na gem’’; usually said sarcastically to mean a winner takes all. As a result, most politicians will do anything to grab and hold on to power; be it by election or appointment. Consequently, in every political discuss, words like ‘‘FIX’’ ‘’FIX IT’’ ‘VOTE CAPTURE’’ ‘CONQUER’’ ‘‘DEMOLISH’’ ‘‘NO VACANCY’’ etc are commonly used. Wetin bi politiks? What is politics? Hu bi politichan? Who is a politician?

As we keep ‘fixing’ and ‘capturing’ votes and power for selfish reasons in Nigeria, our dear country is transfixed with loads of recurring/unsettled wahalas in midst of plenty, increasing youth unemployment, the hope of our so-called youths being leaders of tomorrow dims, old men and women dance naked on the streets in the name of politics, news of corruption doesn’t sound news any more, etc.

Once upon a time, politicians taunted year 2010 as one of Eldorado when all our basic needs would have been met. The year came and passed. Prior that year, we used to hear of water for all, electricity for all, housing for all etc. But today, we are being told that year 20:2020 is now the ‘‘magic year’’ when living will have a true meaning in Nigeria. But whenever I come acrossmai-ruwa pipul (water hawkers) and young girls that vend newspapers on the streets of Abuja, I feel really unhappy because the mind-set of most of our so-called politicians about politics and service still equal; my ‘‘turn’’ to eat. I am pained. Mai bele no swit mi at ol.

Why shouldn’t state governors partner with foreign investors to build industries to help reduce the spate of unemployment in their respective states? Why can’t states own their own power plants and generate their own electricity? Why should a parent who is supposed to directly take the responsibility for the upkeep of his child/children hide under the ‘‘Almajir system’’ not minding how his children roam the streets in other places unknown to him? Why should the resources of government be squandered in frivolous ventures for selfish reasons by politicians while majority are languishing? If water is a necessity of life, what hope for water for all by year 20:2020 when young boys who are supposed to be gainfully employed sell water and even engage far younger hands invited from the villages to come and learn the rudiments of the trade? If water is provided in areas where mai-ruwa pipul dem sell water daily to eke a living, what alternatives would they fall back to?

Should a blessed people be made to go through so many untold hardships? How do you feel whenever you come across droves of languished-looking people hawk different items under the heat of sun? Politics is not the outsmarting of a people via the use of big big grama. It is not the ability to tell lies about unexecuted projects at the expense of the people. It is not the elimination of an opponent at all cost to gain selfish advantage. It is equity, trust, accountability and the creation of the good life for a people while provisioning for the future.

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University of Ibadan
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Nigeria
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