A piece of cake can be so yummy and palatable. How much more a national cake? The national cake comes with its inherent sweetness, one which cannot be felt by a swift bite.
It comes with the cortege of affluence and palatial paraphernalia, vis-à-vis oil blocks, government contracts, holding a strategic position at the presidency, state or local government or being just being a Friend of Mr. President- that itself is a big office in Nigeria. Anywhere you find yourself in the corridor of power, it is more than sure that you will definitely get your own share of the national cake. However what determines when and how you get your share of it is how loyal you are to the incumbent Executive. The national cake is shared by the people in political office with big, sharp and ever-shinning Machete (Jaana, Pana a.k.a Adaa Lamu) of different sizes and shapes. From this cake are undesirable pieces sprinkling away as the major sharers swing and wave their machetes in the air with the bid to cut the larger share. Several of these crumbs are further hunger after by the common man in order for him to catch a bite before strolling off the ‘butchery’. In simple language, the national cake represents our collective wealth. The real sharer of this cake are the ruling elite, no matter their political affiliations while the masses are those who often smile off and are contented with sand milled morsels of it.
President Jonathan during his last visit to Ekiti state few days to the just concluded gubernatorial election categorically stated that the people of the Fountain of Knowledge would get more support from his PDP-led Federal Government if they ever gave their votes to Mr. Ayo Fayose. The trio of Mr. Ayo Fayose-PDP, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi (the incumbent Governor of Ekiti)-APC and Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele-LP all contested in the election with serious preparations. The election had come and gone, with Fayose as the winner. It may still be very tough for most students of Politics to quickly comprehend contradictions inherent in the Ekiti system which then favoured Ayo Fayose over the incumbent Governor, Kayode Fayemi. Pundits have been rationalizing the outcome, anchoring their analyses on the objective reality of Ekiti as an economically feeble agrarian society and a civil servant state. People like us baffled that Ekiti with her large numbers of Professors and sound intellectuals could develop such political behaviour at this age. But we were hurriedly reminded by Fayose himself that one does not need to be a professor to know that the people need food on their table. I wish him good luck once more! Many Ekiti indigenes are also fast in explaining their decisions with the popular saying throughout the electoral cycle that they were tired of the APC and Fayemi.
When one correspondingly raised the question of heavily armed men’s presence during the election while our girls are still forcefully lodged far away Sambisa by Boko Haram, we were quickly reminded once more by the President that it was as a result of possible violence that might follow the voting. At least some of us would have taken the President up in strong terms if any eventuality greeted the exercise. Governor Fayemi as well played a heroic role by accepting the result. No matter your queries on the Ekiti election, Ekiti voters and many Governor Fayose’s admirers, home and abroad have ready-made responses for them.
The truth of the whole scenario is that many Nigerians and particularly the Ekiti people in the manner they voted zeroed good governance to sharing of the national cake and state allocations. If indeed they are more intelligent with their large chunk of professors, they should have understood better that such sharing culture will and can never bring about any meaningful development to them in the long term, either human or auto-centric. Even if Fayose surpasses late MKO Abiola or Chief Afe Babalola in exceptional humanitarian gesture, that also does not suffice for societal transformation because humanitarian good has its own limitation. It is temporary. The experiences of Oyo under Adedible and Kwara under Olusola Saraki are sufficient to open our eyes wider. The puzzles people should consistently meditate time and over again on are numerous. Let me put two or three forward here:
1. Since the inception of civil rule in 1999 or since independence, had such style of politics translated into tangible human cum auto-centric development?
2. Since the PDP grabbed political control at the centre in 1999, has the party actually taken the country beyond the coast of political transition?
3. Have all the political parties from AD to APC, ANPP to LP and others actually truly developed our polity beyond our collective feeling of political dejavu?
The above queries are beyond the personalities of Tinubu, Buhari, Fayemi or Aregbesola. Neither are they centred on OBJ, Jonathan, Fayose nor Omisoore. Many smart and 'lucky' Nigerians are quick to jet out of their fatherland and lock themselves perpetually in Europe, America or Asia. Some of them ferry home regularly because they had paid their dues, either through advanced slavery or via conscious self-subjugation to foreign direct domination. I hold them no grudge for they had long concluded that they would rather tie their existence to foreign paradise where they enjoy tangible and better living than come home to settle under some anti-human political conditions of their country whose greedy leadership treats its kith and kin as unworthy subjects instead of co-citizens, brothers and sisters in a 21st century world.
Some of these people also join political debates on social media and several other platforms. It is their right. We must accommodate their views. Whereas, a section of the Diaspora is still very patriotic and wish for transformation of their homeland, the other section is not interested in seeing Nigeria better again and don’t even believe it will. These Diaspora pessimists flood the social media, armed with counter opinions to justify any anti-people policies of governments at different levels. But the question we should also ask them, even if all of us have certainly not moved an inch away from our cradle, is that ' Did Europe and America develop as a result of sharing of national cake among their citizens?' If such a question will generate more clumsy intellectual dialogue, we can restrict it to the Asian Tigers and at least few countries in South America which all share same colonial history with us, few with larger population than ours.
If we all truly believe in Nigeria and desire a better country, it will be in our own interest to start thinking about moving this country ahead. What is vivid and sensible to the most celebrated lunatic is that if we continue to encourage bread and butter politics, we will remain in development inertia and perpetually dwindle within the cyclic recurrence of human stupidity. We almost always claim to be the Giant of Africa. If we persist with this thought in our heads, all the other countries we see as dwarfs today will metamorphose into stronger economic and political powers right before our nose.
Finally, as Mahmood Mamdani would say, there is no neutrality in social science discourse because it discusses and analyses society. While scientists may not have preference for Nitrogen over hydrogen, a social scientist cannot claim any form of neutrality for he is part of the society he analyses. He can never be a nobody. If not a teacher, he is carpenter. If not a factory worker, he is a peasant. If not a politician, he is a soldier; name it. In contemporary Nigeria, you are either a lover of genuine change and progress or a paramour of stagnation. I believe in progress, development and I want this country to move beyond this coast of political cum economic sluggishness. Let your own mind and actions judge you too!
Comrade Damilare Lawal