Last week was particularly bloody in Nigeria. The scale of multifarious tragedies that hit the nation rubbed all of us raw and with a visceral force. From Plateau to Cross River, Ebonyi, and Lagos states, acts of violence left an untallied number of people dead and thousands more displaced. Amidst all the mourning that pervaded Nigeria, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, decided to sour the air more. He sidestepped the substance of Nigerians’ angst to wrestle with the All Progressives Congress’ mirror image – the Peoples Democratic Party – for turning the tragic deaths into politics. Adesina launched his fury against his counterparts by resorting to the most senseless defence ever. He compared the number of deaths under the PDP with that of the APC before declaring the latter was (still) better off.
But, first, rather than a presidential spokesperson comparing figures of deaths to score political goals, why could he not compare the statistics of life under each administration? Why politicise death when you can politicise life? In other words, instead of telling us the number that died, why not supply the figures of those that live and thrive better under your administration? If ours were a sane society, that is the kind of data to duel in a political exchange. Not the number of deaths, but those that flourished. Has the death of Nigerians become so banal to them that it is not worth more than a mere point of haggling between two adversaries? They have mentally suppressed empathy for the pain and trauma of the victims, turned their fate into mere numbers and used it for self-glorification. That is a Boko Haramic level of callousness that can only come from a government that has wrenched itself from directly engaging with issues that decimate our Nigerian lives. That way, they easily overlook the looseness and failings of our institutions and the ways they kill us. The only thing that counts to them is just the final tally, no longer the violence that resulted in the deaths. If they treat life as a treasure of inestimable value, they would not merely throw around such morbid figures, as if what was lost were the lives of laboratory mice. They would treat each death as an unquantifiable loss and not a series of depersonalised events that could be lumped together into an empirical whole.
The fact that someone like Adesina is the President’s proxy is worrying. He and the other aides, such as Lauretta Onochie, Garba Shehu, Tolu Ogunlesi, Bashir Ahmed, even Lai Muhammed, supposedly see the President every day due to the nature of their jobs. With their access into his inner chambers, they get to listen to his unfiltered thought and feel his passion before they go out to speak in his name. What they take away from his presence – in both words and stance – is what they relate back to Nigerians on their social media messages. The presidential spokespersons are the President’s surrogates, the extension of his personality in public. It is, therefore, apt to ghost Buhari’s attitude to Nigerians off these aides’ actions. Their constant antagonism of Nigerians and uncouth manner of relating to the public must be revelatory of the despise that Buhari privately feels for all Nigerians. If they could be so imperceptive to declare that Buhari is better than previous PDP Presidents because not enough deaths have been counted under his administration, it means they are echoing how Buhari processes the killings going on in Nigeria.
The next President after Muhammadu Buhari had better be far more circumspect in the choice of spokespersons. If we compute the many failings of this administration, one of the vital aspects where they let people down is the choice of their mouthpieces. Those that speak for this government are pathetic clowns and a bunch of incorrigible reprobates. They are permanently confused, combative, obtuse and lacking in any diligence whatsoever. These aides, who incidentally outnumber the economists and strategic thinkers in Buhari’s government, were likely handpicked for their jobs because their renowned belligerence serves the intentions of a government that wants to deflect scrutiny from the citizenry. When they speak on issues, they come across as poorly programmed zombies blabbing nonsense.
To some extent, Adesina had a point against the PDP. Honestly, if the PDP had shame or sense, they would desist from bickering over administrative ineptitude. In the 16 years Nigeria spent under the PDP, the country bled red incessantly due to their ethical and institutional corruption. The acts of violence that Nigeria is experiencing at this period did not start in 2015. The PDP has no moral basis for pretending they care about the fate of the deceased by declaring a national mourning period. From 1999 to 2015, they used power only for their selfish and deviant purposes, leaving Nigerians to bear the brunt of a government that existed only in name. It was also under their watch that terrorism was allowed to fester because it suited the purposes of their pusillanimous leader; he used the violence as evidence some people wanted to make Nigeria “ungovernable” for him.” The PDP has nothing useful to say or offer to anyone on leadership failure since they epitomise it.
The APC, on the other hand, also has no business crying about the antics of a political party that turns deaths into a political sport. That is what political opponents do to each other in a democracy. If the APC remembered clearly, the politicisation of deaths was of the oxygen tanks that breathed life into their own wobbly party. Space will not permit me to start quoting the grave insults that APC members like Nasir el-Rufai, Bisi Akande, Tunde Fashola and Lai Muhammed heaped on Dr Goodluck Jonathan when the country was slipping from his clumsy hands. In a previous article, I accused el-Rufai of suffering from the Prophet Jonah Psychology. At that time around 2013, he kept yammering how Nigeria would bleed under Jonathan because the government was corrupt and clueless.
At the time he was making his dark prophesies, Boko Haram was already ravaging Nigeria badly. He still went on and on about how the country was doomed under Jonathan as if it was not bad enough that innocent blood was being shed. Like the Biblical prophet Jonah, el-Rufai would rather have innocent people perish to satisfy his prophetic ego than a resolution that could avert impending doom. El-Rufai and other APC members, driven by their thirst for power, went on the rampage and cavilled endlessly at Jonathan and the PDP. One would have thought they genuinely cared, not knowing they were merely jockeying to replace the PDP and mimic its evils. You could reproduce their words today, replace “Buhari” with “Jonathan,” and the “APC” with the “PDP,” and not a single thing would be different. Why are they crying now that they are being fed with their own fecal matter?
That said, the fact that Nigeria is being passed back and forth between these two sets of undistinguishable buffoons, a degenerate PDP and an utterly irresponsible APC, makes me feel sorry for myself and my country. Between the two of them, human lives have now become a table tennis ball to be passed from hand to hand. I dare them to change their political game from tussling over death to life. Tell us which one of you improved education well enough that you were confident for children to go to public schools. Tell us about the roads and the hospitals you built and the way you improved the human life quality index. Don’t tell us how many died; tell us how many lived, prospered, and are still blossoming under your government. If you cannot do that, why not sink into the pool of shame?
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