Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A Banquet with Pius Adesanmi on Nigeria rogues in Politics

Prof. Pius Adesanmi
In the overall context of the Nigerian tragedy, some of my friends - friends with credibility, integrity, and loads of ethical capital - have argued that given the fact that we will most certainly end up with a field of corrupt, more corrupt, and most corrupt thieves jostling for the Presidency in 2015, our most pragmatic option now is to give serious consideration to a performing corrupt thief as opposed to the prospects of re-hiring a clueless corrupt thief as president in 2015. To this end, they think Atiku Abubakar could claim to be our best corrupt option in a potential field of mega-thieves and scoundrels.

I am no stranger to this line of argument. You will recall my recurrent theme in previous essays that our choice, every election cycle, is never between good and bad candidates but between bad and less bad candidates. My aburo, Tolu Ogunlesi, took this further at our explosive Ake 2013 panel by making a persuasive and pragmatic case for responsible thieves. Yes, our case is that bad in Nigeria : a distinction must be made between responsible and irresponsible thieves. When you see all the amazing developments and projects all over the southwest, it is not that those performing governors are not eating with all four civilized corners of their mouths. Therefore, you cannot compare them with an irresponsible buffoon like former Borno governor, Ali Modu Sherrif, who has a harem of four private jets and only a legacy of poverty and Boko Haram to show for his years in office. So, there are thieves and there are thieves.

As a first realistic step, the argument went at the Ake Panel, lets even have responsible thieves who do maybe 30 % of the work they were elected to do and steal in hundreds of millions of naira instead of billions of dollars. From that vantage point, we could struggle to reduce the stealing progressively. I supported Tolu. Our brother, Chuma Nwokolo, was outraged and blew a lot of unworkable grammar about zero tolerance. We must be zero tolerance hardliners, argued Ogbuefi Nwokolo. Trouble is: do Nigerians even want the squeaky clean candidate and leader? They did not vote for Gani Fawehinmi. They did not vote for Tunde Fagbenle when he ran for Senate. They treat every squeaky clean candidate as a joker whose ambition is dead on arrival. They will not waste their votes. And there is also that part of them that is so used to being led by thieves and corrupt scoundrels that they are afraid of the unknown scenario of being led by non-thieves and non-corrupt compatriots.

This explains why two candidates have emerged for 2015, one a jester, the other a potential, but none has gotten any look in from Nigerians. Chris Okotie is the jester. You dismiss him outright. But you cannot do the same thing with Sam Nda Isaiah. He is a potential. His candidacy does not deserve silence. It should be given a serious look in and if you all decide that he is a credible alternative to all the thieves and crooks looming in the horizon, what you do is mobilize en masse, register massively for APC starting from February 5, and constitute a Third Force within that party to wrestle it from the usual suspects. Look at what the Tea Party does within the Republican Party. They wrestle party machinery and impose their candidates. You think Bola Tinubu, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Atiku Abubakar, Lai Mohammed, and Femi Fani Kayode can resist sixty million of you if you form a movement within that party and insist on a squeaky clean, non-establishmentarian, untainted candidate like Sam Nda Isaiah? It doesn't even have to be Sam Nda Isaiah. Sixty million of you tea partying within APC could insist on Chidi Odinkalu, Ayo Obe, Oby Ezekwesili (on the non-establishmentarian side) or Babatunde Fashola, Oshiomhole (on the establishmentarian side)

Unfortunately, Like you did to Gani Fawehinmi, like you did to Tunde Fagbenle, you are already thinking that Sam Nda Isaiah is a huge joke who stands no chance. You are waiting patiently for the most responsible thief, the best corrupt candidate that the two leading parties will throw up. If that is what you want, then the submissions of my friends about Atiku being the thief most likely to perform best among the thieving lot that the parties will eventually present to you will become a real scenario for you. If that is how you are going to play 2015, that is your funeral. I have told you time and again that it is too late in the day for any of the buffoons ruling Nigeria to have a direct negative economic and material impact on my life. It is too late in the day for me to be a direct victim of their visionlessness and congenital stupidity. So, this is about you. Register in your millions on February 5, seize the initiative from the current crop leading APC, and make it impossible for them to ignore your choice of a squeaky clean, non-establishmentarian candidate for president in 2015. You can do it. The Tea Party does it to the leaders of the Republican Party all the time.

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