Editor's note: Niyi Akinnaso writes on two political bigwigs and members of the opposition party, the Peoples Democrtaic Party (PDP).
According to Niyi, Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district, and Ayodele Fayose, the past governor of Ekiti state, are two sides of a bad coin.
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There are many interesting characters in Nigerian politics just as there are in every polity. What is distinctive about Nigeria is the large number of politicians who devalue the political system with their utterances, actions, and general behaviours.
Some are crass opportunists, who go into politics to grab what they could from the system. There are others who have little, if anything, to offer than sheer comic relief from the boredom arising from the under-achievement of our politicians.
Their actions as public figures debase the publics they purportedly represent and the institutions to which they are elected.
Two of such are the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.
To be sure, there are fine distinctions between the two; nevertheless, they are better viewed as two sides of the same coin. When the coin is flipped, you get basically the same reaction from spectators no matter which side faces up or down: Here we go again!
Compare, for example, this pair of twin actions. On the one hand, Melaye jumped out of a moving police vehicle, accusing the police of wanting to kill hm. He would later lock up himself in his Abuja residence, which was surrounded by the police who had come to arrest him for a different crime.
From inside the residence, he granted an electronic interview to Channels TV, informing the public that he was not in Abuja at all but that he would report himself to the police as soon as he returned. A week later, he came out of hiding in the same residence and was promptly arrested.
He “slumped” only after he had been arrested, and continued slumping as he was to be interrogated by the police investigators. He was taken to the hospital. If he survives his sudden illness, he still will be interrogated and punished as appropriate, if found culpable.
Fayose, on the other hand, appeared with a brace around his neck (never mind that the brace was wrongly placed at first), accusing the police of manhandling him at a rally he reportedly did not even attend. Elements like him in the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party joined him in crying foul, just as they are now on Melaye’s arrest.
Not done, on leaving office as governor and simultaneously shedding the cloak of immunity, Fayose voluntarily showed up at the offices of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, wearing a vest announcing his arrival: “EFCC, here I come”. He was promptly arrested.
The officials were waiting for him as he had publicly announced that he was going there. He is currently on bail but already running his mouth as usual.
To be sure, Fayose has some enviable qualities and some of his criticisms of the Presidency appear justified, he often goes overboard, sometimes below the level expected of a governor in a civilised society.
One can excuse him for making a futile announcement of running for President sometime in 2018, when serious aspirants were only just consulting party leaders.
However, wishing the President dead, as he did in an advertorial in leading Nigerian newspapers in 2015, was barbaric. Even his political party leaders had to distance themselves from him and the advert at that time.
Melaye’s theatrics paint a much more sordid picture, ranging from silly songs, announcing his switchover to the PDP, to boastful threats across the gender line to a fellow female senator. Not a few observers wondered at the time about what, and how much of it, was in his system.
The details of their antics and shenanigans are not worth exploring here. What is important is understanding the nature of the Nigerian political system, which allows characters like Fayose and Melaye to thrive.
There are four major features of the system. First, values have become so debased that no reference point exists anymore for acceptable standards. To recall Chinua Achebe, things have truly fallen apart, when it comes to ethics and morality. The erosion of values throughout the system is near total.
This provides a basis for the second feature of the Nigerian political system, namely, corruption. Former super civil servant, Ahmed Joda, put it succinctly in the executive summary of his 800-page report of the Presidential Transition Committee Report in 2015, when he concluded, “Corruption is everywhere” in the system.
Corruption performs a dual role in the system. It prevents development by allowing funds to be diverted into private pockets. At the same time, corruption attracts many people to politics.
Thus, the third feature of the Nigerian political system is the pervasive view of political office as the quickest passport to wealth. Besides, there is an unwholesome view held by not a few citizens that government property is anybody’s property.
Therefore, whoever has access often takes as much as possible. In a country where most money is derived from government coffers, a position in government is viewed as big business. This is particularly true of federal and state positions, especially those of the President, governor, senator, and member, House of Representatives.
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Many reports indicate that these four positions are the most lucrative political positions in the world. The financial sacrilege is symbolised by the security votes of the President and governors for which no account is required. This explains the cut-throat competition for elective and appointive offices.
Fourth, the combination of high unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy further allows for many citizens, including ruffians, thugs, and area boys, to converge around politics, especially during election seasons when they are deployed by candidates and party bosses for a fee to harass, maim, or even kill political opponents in order to gain the upper hand.
This is the political milieu in which the like of Fayose and Melaye gained high political offices and thought they could say and do anything they like.
They are further emboldened by a highest-bidder police force, an uncoordinated prosecution, and a bastardised judiciary, all of which are also theatres of corrupt practices.
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