By Taju Tijani.
The most famous deed poll ever undertaken by a Nigerian took place some few weeks ago. A politician by name Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of House of Representatives, in a daring maneuver, changed into Mr. Dogara Paddington. Dogara started as a hero of the anti-corruption war, but today he is a raving fraudster in the reckoning of one Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation. The oars of his rowing boat are now rowing backwards and in danger of imminent peril. It is instructive for my readers to know that once Dogara tasted the wine of affluence and power, he is today mocking his humble origin in a quest to enter the billionaire club.
Nigeria seems bereft of leaders and this state of play is an ill fate on this nation’s destiny. The mendacity and treachery of our politicians are the twin evil we have to live with. With vehement secrecy and the meanest objective, Mr. Paddington inserted into this nation’s legal document called budget, the princely sum of N248b in a scamfest that include his deputy, Yussuf Suleimon Lasun, chief whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and minority leader, Leo Ogor. With such action, his old patina of greatness was wiped off among Nigerians and fellow lawmakers. Mr. Paddington, a once darling and clean skin is today an exposed hyena who wanted to pick our bones and clean them greedily. If democracy requires eternal vigilance, we have to thank Hon. Jibrin for blowing his saxophone like the iconic Yemi the saxophonist before a doltish Nigerian public that is perpetually shielded from the inanities going on in the hallowed chamber of our National Assembly.
Where do we go from here? What are we to make of Mr. Paddington’s preemptive N248b strike? Today, the National Assembly is throbbing with anarchy and sheer chaos. It seems that most of our anti-corruption moralists are in retreat and singing from pages far different from their leader, President Mohammadu Buhari. There are few loyal yokefellows who really want to coast home in triumph with the president. With Mr. Paddington’s N248b heist, we are sailing into a new phase of democratic foolish fun.
Mr. Paddington’s desire to divert money meant for the common purpose into private pocket is part of the fundamental struggle of our politics – balancing greed with integrity. Honesty, truth, transparency, straight and being clean are our banal virtues. We have reached a cross road politically, socially, economically and worse, culturally. Pessimism over our politics is becoming a new anthem. We sing it everywhere – isiewu joints, beer parlours, public transport, lounge of academic institutions, churches, mosques, football watching arenas, eateries and in our living rooms.
Our politics and politicians are no longer animated with lofty ideals common to the politics of the 60s. Dedication, public-servanthood, high integrity, brutal honesty and moral resoluteness have all receded in a mad and competitive rush to have a bite at our finite national cake. Nigeria’s electorates have been consigned into passive observers of a closed system of government that continues to perpetuate and exploit the ignorance of ordinary citizens. Even before the total collapse of our educational system, our education has failed to produce a more politically animated electorate in Nigeria. Dogara Paddington cannot be patriotic because that virtue has atrophied through political non-accountability, documented corruption, thuggery and the bastardisation of the National Assembly.
Dogara Paddington’s cruel stealing and the desire to earn a badge of infamy is a disease across the African, ugly political landscape. In Africa, leadership is in crisis. Electorates are becoming sullenly hostile to those in power and there is pessimism that today’s leaders are diminished figures with empty visions. Politics is being seen as a realm of promises that are not carried out, of systematic lies, systemic corruption, abuse of power, questionable immunity, hooliganism, manipulation and impunity against perceived political opponents.
Why has accountable politics appeared to have lost its way and bearing in our society? The answer is in the fact that our political system perpetually shifts its focus from its mandate of transparency to secrecy; from honesty to greed, from openness into a closed enterprise and from servanthood to arrogant, monarchical arrangement among elites. Our politics often blurred the vision of its leader especially when political survival is at risk.
Today, nobody can therefore deny that APC is dealing with its own, ugly internal contortions. Mr. Paddington’s irrational action has provided that justification to do an internal soul searching and examine if the core mantra of change and corruption busting is about to suffer reverses from Judas like Mr. Paddington.
If the fuel cells of his party members are lost, President Mohammadu Buhari will be powerless to effect any change in our society. The president’s lone cry like a mad prophet in the wilderness has failed to win converts to his soulish war against the perfidy of hyper-corruption among our politicians.
Our politicians are nothing but walking embodiment of greed, indolence, corruption, dishonesty, unpatriotism, wastage, stupidity and vulgar lifestyle. They are a bunch of malignant, and manipulating plunderers who oppress us with ludicrous legislations that replace common sense with grandiloquent gestures. There are so much rebellious rebukes going on against Dogara Paddington and his gang, but have these (dis)honourable men resign from their public duties? The idea that Mr. Paddington and his gang could be in their posts in the face of such huge allegations, reinforces the fact that our brand of politics has a way to shame all the canons of decency, taste, courtesy, respectability, gentleness, humanity and dignity most commonly found in Western politics.
Mr. Dogara Paddington’s continued stay in office as a Speaker, House of Representatives is an effrontery we have come to accommodate and until we begin to challenge this vile political custom, people like Mr. Paddington will continue to pollute our democracy.