A Season Of Distractions By Tonneey Nnamudi
Some of the notable events that have taken place in the country over the past four years under the stewardship of one of the most criticised Presidents in the nation’s history have been painted with distracting colours. The overheating of the polity, the propagandas of the opposition, the deeds and misdeeds of some government potentates and political aficionados, the activities of insurgents inter alia have contributed in no small measure to what has become a season of distractions.
It is in the light of the above that the most recent of these distractions come to mind. The former Emir of Kano joined his ancestors, thus paving way for the selection of a successor. Almost immediately, the political undertone in the selection process became over-emphasized. Most people seem to have forgotten that the ultimately selected successor to the Kano throne is in fact a member of the royal family and ipso facto is worthy of being selected since he was among those nominated by the kingmakers. And given his radical and religious antecedence as well as his reputation, his selection is no shocker to many. What is rather shocking is how the highly revered throne of Kano has been reduced to a political dice for the 2015 elections. They keep suffocating us with political distractions – the throne of Kano has become the latest tool of distraction albeit its politically-targeted success not fully guaranteed.
A retrospective look at the emergence pathway of this gentleman as the number one citizen of this nation clearly depicts that it was characterised by controversies. It was also an attempt to perpetuate an incapacitated gentleman in office as a President even when the constitution suggested a smooth handover to the Vice-President pending full recovery. Instead political meanderings and shenanigans by members of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ became the order of the day while the citizens and indeed some cabinet members were kept in the dark on the true health status of their President and Commander-in-chief. The apprehension in the air was almost choking. It was indeed one of the low moments of our democratic odyssey that was to herald this season of distractions.
It was the 2012 New Year message of the President that led to the fuel subsidy saga. This saga was characterised by protests, demonstrations, debates, meetings, etc. This fuel subsidy saga arrested the attention of Nigerians. The proponents and opponents of the removal of fuel subsidy were locked up in heated arguments whilst the masses protested on the streets under the stewardship of labour leaders who were also attending series of deadlocked meetings. It would seem to suggest that the entire events were playing to a script written and directed in the theatres of Aso Rock because the fuel subsidy was eventually removed albeit partially. These events almost brought the moving train of the nation to a halt.
It was part of the supposedly accruing funds from this removal of fuel subsidy that a serving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) raised alarm over its non-remittance. In fact, he claimed that this money was missing – a whooping sum of $20billion. This money, if converted at an exchange rate of say, ?150 per dollar, can be shared equally amongst the 160million Nigerians at a rate of ?18,750 each. How can such a large chunk of money be missing? Who is (are those) with this money? These were some of the questions raised by pundits. Even the president doubted the veracity of the claim when he stated that if such an amount of Dollar gets missing, even the United States will know – because it’s their money. The claim, counter-claim and the eventual suspension of the CBN boss became trending topics. It was another era of distractions.
We have not forgotten the Aviation vehicles scandal involving a serving minister of Aviation that gulped the sum of ?255million from our national coffers. That spending spree was condemned by so many folks, especially in a country where a large percentage of the population live below the International Poverty Line. There were of course allegations of financial recklessness, a ridicule of due process and corruption. There were thus, calls for the sack of this Moneyster and in the usual Nigerian pattern, there were also counter-calls while all discussions at that time were centred on this saga. It took a while before the minister was relieved of her duties. Here was another season of attention-stealing while the business of looting, bribery and corruption continued in other quarters. As is usually the case, it is the dog’s mouth that is stained with faeces that is assumed to have eaten it the most. And so, let’s not forget the infamous case of that Honourable lawmaker and the oil subsidy bribe scandal.
We have also witnessed the season of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) election. That was a time when it was alleged that 16 is a greater number than 19. It was also a time that a group of 35 men (present) were unsuccessful in their attempt to conduct an election amongst themselves. This was happening almost simultaneously with the emergence of the opposition merger brand with all the accompanying razzmatazz. The sequel to these events was the defection of five of the governors of the ruling party and indeed, sporadic defections of lawmakers across both party lines. Let’s not also forget the power tussle and the display of political bravado by the President and a prominent Governor of one of the South-South states. It was yet another season of events that stole our attention.
Let it be quickly stated that the National Confab may turn out to be yet another ongoing distraction, if the recommendations of the conference are not implemented to the latter, and if it does not achieve all of the goals for which it was intended ab initio.
This discussion may seem incomplete without the mention of the scourge of the moment – insurgency as orchestrated by Boko Haram. Nothing has been more worrisome to the Presidency as much as the Boko Haram insurgent group. Their incessant decimation of humanity and the wanton destruction of properties have almost brought the nation to a standstill. Sadly, the menace has become almost uncontrollable despite the external intervention of foreign military assistance occasioned by the abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno state. This abduction attracted attention from all corners including the social media that became inundated with the calls for the release of the abducted girls. The intricacies of this abduction continue even as the plague of terrorism takes, not only our attention, but also our sleep. It is having the most destabilising effect on the polity and indeed, the government.
Given that everything rises and falls on a leader, the president is not envied at this juncture but rather pitied. This is because of the scathing criticisms he receive which makes him everybody’s favourite Aunt Sally. If it is in fact true that this man is clueless, then we must have contributed in one way or the other in bringing him to that level of obfuscation. He has become our ‘Akon’ and we do not hesitate to put the blame on him for all our actions and inactions. Even when our girlfriends become pregnant and we find no one else to blame – we can always say it’s his fault.
Even as this article is being written, it is not unlikely that these distractions may continue especially in the light of the upcoming 2015 elections and the events leading to it. It is either these distractions are deliberate acts of the government or they are merely circumstantial. If the latter proposition is true, the government becomes forced to channel much of her energy into quelling the ensuing controversies at the expense of the main task of governance. If the former proposition is however true, then this government have been very smart. It would then stand to reason that while anomalies prevail, the masses are blinded with the veil of distractions. This is because, while these issues of distractions are being discussed, there is an attention shift from our national purse while the masterminds of the distraction may be feasting on our treasury without being noticed. These distractions are becoming too many.
Tonneey NNAMUDI – an orator, opinion writer and political critic cum activist can be contacted on email@example.com
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