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Politicking made in London

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In recent times, Nigerians found themselves feeding from the table beyond the shores when the political actors junketed to London to chart Nigeria’s trajectory as she passes through another electioneering period. Though, this is not new in Nigeria’s history because of her colonial experience, but the timing and pattern it took raise great concern on the possibility of a better Nigeria in the nearest future.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and his allies had on 26th August, 2022, claimed that the meetings held with the the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahemd Tinubu, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, and that of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in London on 23rd and 25th of August, were in the interest of Nigerians not parochial or tied to the interest of one person or group.

Unfortunately, they failed to brief Nigerians the outcome of the meetings on their return home. Rather, what seems to have accelerated is the velocity of rhetorics that snowballed to the call for the removal of the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.

To placate this agitation, the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubril, had to scarified his position. Despite the resignation, the war of words between the groups still continue. According to Governor Wike, the BoT is just an advisory body so its chairmanship cannot be equated to the national chairman. Therefore, the national chairman must come from the south since the presidential candidate emerged from the north.

While this demand seems to be logical because there is need for fairness, equity and justice in the running of party’s affairs, the event that played out at the primary election and the subsequent picking of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state as the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar shows that there is more to the crisis than what is being portrayed in the public as the struggle for national interest.

It seems the governor is yet to recover from the defeat he suffered at the primary election. Consequently, he looking for an avenue to inflict great pain on those that participated in the process that truncated his ambition while at the same time considering the best way to compensate his loyalists. This occasioned endless visitations and negotiations that prompted the unprincipled luxury trip to London to discuss Nigeria’s trajectory in a manner akin to the Berlin conference of 1884/85 where the European powers partitioned Africa and gave a formal approval for the full fledged colonisation of the continent.

That is the reason some have argued that though the country has gained independence but the spirit of the colonial masters still resides in her because of the behaviour of the political class whose despite the chronic poverty, unprecedented unemployment, insecurity, among others, still find comfort in relocating their meetings to the city beyond the shores.

No wonder, most of the governors that featured at the meetings had their states listed in the latest report of the National Bureau Statistics (NBS) on states that did not attract any capital importation in the second quarter of 2022. Even, some still owed their workers minimum monthly wages.

For instance, apart from the insecurity that has been ravaging Benue state for years, it is reported that the state government still owes public workers salaries. Kidnapping and cult violence continue to dominate the media space in Rivers state. Yet, the public office holders continue to revel in unprincipled luxury and undertake excursions abroad to haggle over personal political indulgences.

The dimension it has taken shows that it is becoming a national malaise. In 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari cumulatively spent five months in London for medical treatment. Former President Umaru Yar’Adua died in a Saudi Arabian hospital in 2009.

The funniest part is that one of the presidential candidates claiming to have transformed the medical sector in Lagos state is alleged to be on a routine medical treatment abroad. His London home became a Mecca of sorts for governors, parliamentarians, and party supporters after a surgery in 2021. Another candidate is reported to be spending more time in Dubai than Nigeria.

Based on the provision in chapter 4, section 41 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, there is nothing wrong with travelling to London for person(s) in or out of public office because it is part of the fundamental rights. However, it becomes abnormal when it cannot improve the image of the country in the international arena.

Recently, UNESCO reported that over 20 million children are out of school in Nigeria while the latest report from the NBS shows that 91 million Nigerians are living below poverty line eith the 33 percent of the population unemployed. These challenges ought to create sympathy among the political actors, especially those that claimed to be fighting for the interest of Nigerians.

The money used to pay for the trip to London would have helped some of the out of school children roaming the street if the money had been diverted to help Nigerians but because their central focus is on how to achieve personal gain they forgot about the impact the money would have had in the lives of the children.

The most amazing aspect of the whole display is that those that are riding on the shoulder of the labour structure to promise Nigerians a better future also participated in the “jamboree of shame” at London. Affirming the position of those that claimed that the messiah is yet to be born. Rather, what seems to be at play is the repackaging of empty promises that has placed the country on a reverse gear and turned her to a laughing stock among the comity of nations.

In 2018, Nigeria was named the poverty capital of the world and still continues to revolve around the region of “super poverty” infected countries despite the numerous promises made by President Buhari in 2015 to create a new Nigeria where poverty will be reduced to a minimum level.

To salvage the country from this ignominious adventure, there is need to shun the call of those fanning the embers of ethnicity and religion by voting for those that can protect and unify the country in words and actions so that there can be peace and prosperity in Nigeria.

Oluwasanmi writes from
Ibafo, Ogun state.

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