Politics well played is supposed to help unite the nation but now it is used to suite a particular ethnic group because of the gains and profitability attached which makes politics moribund. Nigeria would be trying in vain to bring herself together if there are no concerns for other ethnic agitators. Political rigidity cannot help us. While believing that we are protecting our diversity, we are building mountain out of a molehill. Nigeria should be flexible in thinking and addressing issues of concerns. We can never solve this magnitude of issues that suffocate Nigeria without raising our honest voices to speak out than trying to implement secret selfish agendas that continues to create a divide. The use of money, tribe and religion as political tools would keep widening the gaps of unity.
Focus should be on the pedigree of aspiring leaders not the amount of money that could be thrown around, their tribal or religious affiliations. The elements of money, tribe and religion have been the greatest manipulated political tools that have left the country gasping for breath. They are used to sow seeds of discords among the citizens to manipulate and cage them into perpetual submissions to their political slave masters. Every Nigerian politician uses these elements well to promote their selfish agendas and keep the country divided along uncountable lines. These same tools have affected the loudness of the voices that should have trumpeted justice.
These tools are used to “off the mic of justice” thereby allowing evil to reign. When any politician comes out for an election, he or she must strategize the best penetrative strategies to the citizens. They are spoken to in the language they understand during campaigns to get their votes. Stomach infrastructures are implemented through gift items like bags of rice, tins of tomatoes, motorcycles etc and monies are even thrown around. They are reminded why they must be supported based on similar tribal or religious affiliations which automatically disqualifies the other opponent. When they succeed and assume power, they would use same tools to weaken criticisms. In Nigeria today, you just need a name the judiciary can consider to favour even if you lose after elections. That was what happened in the last elections where leaders were imposed on people.
Elections in Nigeria are mimicry of pure elections. In the third world, politics is seen as quest for money and acquiring non genuine power; power to dislocate everybody and stay without even enjoying it. Politicians change names for political convenience. For example, some Ikwere Port-Harcourt indigenes deny being Igbos and change their names from Nwike to Wike, from Nwokoma to Wokoma for political relevance and to run away from the “Igbo-Biafra stigma”. This is also applicable to some of the Igbo-speaking parts of Delta. Some are now claiming relevance to clinch the Southern presidency which is acceptable to all. Recently, the former Rivers state governor and minister of Transportation; Rotimi Amaechi claimed to be a full blooded Igbo man for a yet-to-be ascertained presidential ambition. He went ahead to explain that the presence of ROTIMI in his name should not make him seem “less-Igbo”.
There is no way he can be better than the former governor of Rivers State; Peter Odili. It is who you are not changing your original name for a cover-up that matters. Changing your name your parents gave you is like going for a comestic surgery to change your skin to become a white person which is artificial. It doesn’t affect the substance of you. The name you answer does not define you as another person. It is you who is carrying a bundle of thrash; negatives, hatred that makes you avoid names that reminds you of your allies you don’t want to identify with. It makes nonsense of unity. Politics of changing names is like trying to change your DNA which you cannot succeed because it doesn’t touch the substance. It is like counterfeiting yourself and doing injustice to your native culture.
What about the tribal marks used to identify people of different tribes? Can a change of name wipe it out? During elections, many politicians travel to different parts of the country for chieftaincy titles, accepting traditional names just to become acceptable to the locals and the grassroots. Why do they do injustice to the names accorded to them at childhood? This is a political game. The former President Goodluck Jonathan also played it by adding “EBELE-AZIKIWE” to his names to win the hearts of the Igbos. This is why some believe that an Igbo man has ruled Nigeria as a President. Will they also change the geographical area they come from? What an absurdity! Many politicians are desperate for acceptability into other geo-political zones during campaigns.
What could be the reasons? The reasons are not far-fetched! The ethnic and religious diversities make politicians no matter their pedigrees acceptable by the whole country. If they scale the hurdle of tribe, they must scale the hurdle of religion. Many try to balance their tribal as well as religious affiliations to be acceptable. Some do this through marriage to other tribes or religions apart from struggling to change names. While some balance it with their choice of running mates to win the hearts of certain zones or religions they could not penetrate. All these are political gimmicks which some people understand but others are swayed by it. Should religion or tribe be a strategic factor to be considered before accepting a leader? No matter how hard we try to discard it, religion and ethnicity play significant role in politics which has also spread to other spheres of life. This is the reason for zoning leadership to certain regions at any presidential election to enable inclusiveness of regions and tribes which is yet to be balanced in today’s Nigeria .
This has resulted into agitations; agitation to free oneself from what holds one back preventing one not to have a voice. In fact our country now can be seen as a marketplace of distractive activities that are never pursued to a logical conclusion. We have so many unfinished investigations. Many cases of national interests come up and die naturally with time. Many still frown at restructuring even rotational presidency. Some are forming new political parties. Is it political prejudices that create non-acceptability of others in politics? Is it fear of the other tribe might go beyond what was agreed upon? All these are mere imaginings! Politics is like a game of Chess played with desperation coupled with determination to win! You cannot lose or win unless you bring yourself out. It is your choice to play it. Whatever comes out is your gain.
You have to face it because you have made your choice to face it. The security situation of the nation worsens every day. The least expected place like Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) was attacked with two top military officers killed and one abducted but later killed. The common citizens are now asking critical security questions. They are asking where the country is heading to. Is it the way of Afghanistan? Why are bandits now holding sway? Why the sudden change of name to remove terrorism trace to them? It seems clear that the entire national security architecture has been compromised. People are getting angrier every day watching “repentant” terrorists being integrated into the Army and society.
They are given VIP treatments while freedom agitators from other regions are demonized. Is that the best way to entrench unity? The overlooking of core areas that should have been paid greater attentions to could be attributed to the manipulative powers of Money (used as bribes to close mouths to dance to the tune of evil songs), tribalism; used to make others compromise because “they are, he/she is OUR OWN” and religion because we share same beliefs. With these elements in full sway, there seems to be a long road to national unity and democracy because we shall still wobble on our way to development while still beating about the bush in pretense of not knowing the root causes of our problems.
• Monsignor Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of several books and Social Justice Advocate