President Muhammadu Buhari is such a virulent bug in the cloak of the Nigerian Epicures that populate the right wing of the nation’s politics. The great Epicure was a veteran patron of pleasures in the Greek philosophy in the 200 BC; the philosophy that has governed the Nigerian ruling class centuries after the Greeks themselves had abandoned Epicureanism for investment in human capital development.
For the epicures, building for the future is a waste of time. The late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, once moaned that while he was busy all night awake, thinking of how to solve Nigeria’s problems, his counterparts in the conservative wing with epicurean souls and instincts spent the same time burning the candles at dinners with choice wines, telling of the Cupid’s escapades and snoring between the laps of women of easy virtues.
But the same Awolowo spared them later, divining that they would at a stage in Nigeria’s political history mingle with the progressives to shape Nigeria even though they would later bolt out of the sail to Nigeria’s progress once they discover that the alliance with the progressives would not allow them access the old wines.
The real progressives, Awo insisted, would then reshape to a centrifugal alliance to steer the ship of state to the harbour of Nigeria’s progress.
Even though their trademark gaming in human lives has stopped, Professor Wole Soyinka was once more cynical and unsparing in his epithet, calling the party the nest of killers. Asiwaju Segun Oni once called it a party of crooks. Several top Nigerians called it a party of looters. Yours sincerely once called it the Conclave of Nigerian Epicures, for as a way of life, most members live on the pleasures of the senses.
Ideologically, they belong to the clouds, building up and melting into shapes that enrich their pleasure principle in an inordinate pursuit of riches. For them, it is easy come, easy go, flowing with the wind where their selfish purposes will be served.
Granted that Nigerian politicians are a wonderful lot in matters of principle in pursuit of ambitions, the more astoundingly enterprising are the crowds in the right wing who change nests like thicket rats.
Some of us had argued when Senator Bukola Saraki started orchestrating the break up of the conservative bloc to hibernate in the progressive fold that the jocund politician was on a mission in a mix that would help him consummate a burning ambition to govern Nigeria. Many Nigerians were not surprised when he launched a pseudo-salvation hunt, rallying his mates in the conservative bloc to undo fellow conservatives that threatened the sail of his ambition boat.
Saraki, whose tenure as the Senate President has been denominated in scandals, succeeded in his plans, and so, the two extreme political ideologies co-habited in what turned out Nigeria’s combustible political marriage ever with its tentative conveniences.
But some discerning Nigerians warned then that the new converts to the progressive camp had daggers in their smiles with which they would later murder their new-found progressive ideals after consolidating grounds for a more fierce battle to seize power.
And so spindling his party’s leadership cyclically to unconsciousness in a flywheel of deceit that startled and confounded Buhari, Saraki, in sheer precision of a dexterous marksman, hit the loop, scoring a major in his game of dart to the Senate Presidency, all in a vaulting ambition that startled and confounded Buhari, a General himself in professional marksmanship.
Rapidly, others joined the traffic of returnees to their old base as President Muhammadu Buhari turned the furnace against sleaze that has left Nigeria in ruins in the hands of capitalism patrons. As it turned out, the sage’s prediction came to life, shaking Nigerians to the reality that in a capitalist lives a spirit that has little comfort for even distribution of common wealth as Awo had often opined.
Awo had divined: “For the progressives to be in power, they need the support and collaborations of some conservatives. After attaining power, the conservatives would on their own walk away. The progressives would now build a great party that would move the nation forward.”
True it happened, as the epicures bolted after helping the progressives to power. Buhari is now in charge of the real progressives flank to lead the salvation mission of a nation on crutches after merry-makers and revellers that held the keys to Nigeria’s treasury made a clean slate of the nation’s till.
And for the men in the progressives body but the soul of the conservatives, the progressive sedatives that Buhari’s morals had forced in their veins to a freezing point would take just a little time to thaw. And it melted rapidly, as the new converts began open sabotage activities that would promote their interests to the shock of Buhari, the man in charge of all flanks to give hope to Nigeria that a new nation is possible where all Nigerians can live their dreams.
Soon, so soon, Awo’s words manifested, as the conservatives beat themselves back to their old bloc. But like other mortals, they miscalculated and the price has now proven prohibitive for hagglers in the market place of political ideology.
First to taste the bitter pill of a fluid political ideology for personal advantage is the leader of the mob, Senate President Saraki, when in a fit of fury over his conduct anger seized his people on the streets of Ilorin, as supporters in APC and enemies in PDP forged alliance to rail at the strongman of Kwara politics in a fashion never seen before in a state seen as the Saraki vassal enclave.
After scandals, including alleged assets declaration fraud, alleged Panama Island cash blues and Offa banditry saga that dogged his Senate presidency, in an unprecedented manner and in a fashion reminiscent of a community ranged against a common tormentor, almost all the state, local and ward executive members of PDP in what looked like a public rebellion renounced their membership of the party and moved to APC, vowing never to have anything to do with Saraki and anything he represents.
In Bauchi State, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Saraki’s ally in political pole vault contest, watched in disbelief as Bauchi people voted Lawal Yahaya Gumau of APC in the Bauchi Senatorial by-election shortly after the much celebrated defections of 15 APC senators to PDP.
To prove to the defectors that they were on their own, Bauchi women in particular during the senatorial by-election, in an apparent show of solidarity with Buhari and APC, kissed their ballot papers with shouts of “Sai Baba” before thumbprinting the ballot to vote for APC candidate to spite PDP defectors; evidently thinking that the contestant was Buhari, the man that was the reason for the defections, for keeping the nation’s treasury keys in the inner pocket of his pants against theft by the political Ninjas hibernating in APC but who are now receding to their traditional home in PDP.
In Sokoto State, the senatorial bye-election also turned a disaster for the defectors, including the defecting Governor Aminu Tambuwal, as APC leader in the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, few days after Tambuwal led distressed APC members to defect to PDP, hit Sokoto metropolis with thousands of supporters singing praises of Buhari in unprecedented show of support to condemn the treachery of the defectors.
In Kogi State, a loquacious and foppish dandy, who all his life has proven to be a citizen of cloud-cuckoo-land, must be biting his fingers after Haruna Isa of APC trounced PDP candidate in the House of Representatives by-election that Senator Dino Melaye and his men had projected to be won by PDP candidate.
The tree-climbing high-octane buff with the energy of a buffalo, who strayed into a serious business of managing men and natural endowments for public good, ate his humble pie when Kogi people told him in clear language with their votes that the task to shape their destinies does not reside in the hands of a quick-spirits patron that spends his leisures on the trees in the woods in contrived kidnapping.
In Katsina State where the defectors had hoped to make the highest mark to signal that Saraki and his ilk are here for real, Buhari made a mince meat of the defectors, consolidating grounds for APC in Katsina where Ahmed Babba-Kaita emerged winner in a landslide in the senatorial by-election to seal the hope of PDP that seizing the nation again for maximum pains is a tall dream in the realm of a nightmare.
In Kano, after landing in his own trap, PDP owls hawked at Senator Musa Kwankwaso in his misadventure to perch on the party to seize the state’s leadership again, even as support for Buhari and APC in the state grows to the chagrin of political predators who are always on the prowl hunting for power.
Now that the Epicures have returned to the Conclave in political monastery again in apparent resumption of the old order of dispensing miseries to Nigerians, the options for Nigerians are: choose between the road to perdition with the epicures or set sail with Buhari on a mission to national redemption.
• Olujobi, Journalist and Director of Media and Publicity, Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, writes from Ado-Ekiti