PMB and APC: Of magic, chaanji and chains
This is not an assessment of the first year tenure of the author and finisher of body language or how APC has fared as a party in power, rather than an opposition party. I have been working on this article for a long while things have been happening in such a fuzzy pattern with inherent confusion and incredulity that it had been impossible to be on track. This is because while you are writing one line, another confounding event would throw the whole thing into disarray. Anyway, let’s get down to business and I wish to start with the place of Nay-Sayers in governance. Last week, Femi Adesina declared that it was mendacious for anyone to claim we were (are) suffering. When Professor Ilesanmi disagreed with him, Adesina crowned him the wailer in chief! It has been in the character of our presidential spokespersons, to finish anybody who questions the way our affairs are being run in a supposedly democratic government. It got so bad in the days of Obasanjo (with Fani Kayode and Dr. Okupe as attack dogs) and it has also been getting bad today. The president’s men think they do him a favour by attacking anybody who disagrees with today’s saintly government, seeing them as Jonathanian, ignorant, mischievous or reactionaries. However, ‘…No democracy can survive uncorrupted if its citizens do not look critically at their government, and voice their concerns… Attacking someone as not being a patriot for the mere sin of being critical of the government is a tactic used only under dictatorships (Julia Steinberger The Tech online, 5/3/99). James Baldwin insists on the right to criticize America perpetually because of his great love for her while Elbert Hubert reminds us that it is a proof of greatness to be able to endure criticism without resentment.
Even the Bible tells us that when you reprove a mocker or the wicked, you attract dishonor and contempt but when you rebuke the wise, he will love you for it because he grows wiser and gains more (Proverbs,9:7-9). For those who believe that it is sinful to critise this saintly government, Roosevelt had as far back as 1908 told them that patriotism means to stand by the country, not to stand by the president, expect to the degree in which he himself stands by the country… It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”
Jefferson while proclaiming dissent as the highest form of patriotism declares that ‘It is our duty, to question everything that can possibly be questioned, look into matters that involve us and every law or policy affects us… not to question the president would make him a dictator’. Roosevelt concurred that embargoing any criticism of the president and to stand by him right or wrong, is ‘unpatriotic, servile, and morally treasonous’. Adesina and Co, should face their duties squarely; scan the media, gauge public opinion and pass on to their principal, correct wrong impressions where need be and collect the estacodes that accrue to them as they gallivant with PMB. ATTACKING those who have contrary spirits does not do PMB, the APC, the government or the country any good. I also see Igbokwe’s comment that it doesn’t concern PDP if Ambode spent N20bn on the failed PMB visit, in the same light. It concerns everybody!
APCians have responded in diverse ways since they realized the wide gulf between opposition politics, propagandist campaigns and governance. They have introduced body language as an instrument of governance, asked us to be patient (after banishing Patience to Otuoke) and blamed GEJ for everything, including the current kwashiorkor state of the Naira, fuel scarcity and the insufferable hot weather. They denied most of their documented promises (All Promises Cancelled), made more promises, contradicted each other and when it gets really hot, they declare frustratingly that they are not magicians and never promised magic. It is this no-magic declarations that I want to interrogate today.
On 28/7/15, Tinubu went to welcome PMB from his ‘successful’ US trip, authorised us to attack PMB if he didn’t perform in 100 days(it’s 366 days now) and philosophised that “Change is not by magic’. On 14/3/16, Governor Abubakar of Bauchi state wailed that it was unfair to judge APC in just 9 months and asked us not to expect magic. On 8/3/16, Femi Adeshina declared that PMB promised change while Nigerians were clamouring for magic. And just the other day (23/4/16), the fantastically incorruptible Amaechi declared authoritatively that they never promised magic, using as his evidence, all APC campaign videos. Even during the recent protracted bout of fuel madness, the obviously harassed and embarrassed Ibe Kachikwu also made the magic plea. Well I want to state unequivocally that PMB and APC actually promised magic expressly and impliedly during the elections and we start this argument with a foray into the nature, scope and purpose of Magic.
Magic (also sorcery or trickery) entails the use of rituals, symbols, gestures and language to present things that are not as if they were. It is also the art of creating illusions or conjuring by the use of deceptive devices; performing tricks that seem impossible, too wonderful to be real or using special powers that make the impossible seem to happen. In effect, magic is 419; it is obtaining by trick, deception or creating illusions. It is different from miracle which is a visible and sustainable event inexplicable by natural laws and which may be above nature (beyond the laws of nature) or beside nature (not fully explainable by laws of nature).
So how did APC promise magic? By promising everything, I mean EVERYTHING, and anything to everybody, group and community when it knew that it lacked the resources, competence and even the willingness to deliver on those outlandish promises. As our people would say, they just said the kind of things a man tells a woman just to make her yield! When APC promised N1 for $1, millions of houses and jobs, N40/liter fuel, dash for the unemployed, which we and they knew and know are impossible, they were really promising magic. And just like magic is based on the deployment of words with zero symbolic value (Jesper Sorensen; A cognitive theory of magic); they deployed hollow words, faction and fiction to create an illusory atmosphere that got them into power. They were also unequivocally warned then, that they were promising magic.
Before the election, Professor Solude (‘Buhari vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election; 25/1/15), warned APC that, an efficient national transport infrastructure alone will cost billions of dollars, even by corruption-free means; paying between N5,000 and N10,000 monthly to 25m Nigerians will cost between N1.5 and N3trn PA and when you add free primary education, free meals, millions of public housing… The numbers don’t add up… If it was intended as a joke, APC must get serious’. Olu Fasan, a Diaspora intellectual also warned APC (The price of APC’s statist agenda, BusinessDay, 2/2/15). He recalled their numerous promises including six new universities, increase in the number of doctors from 19 to 50 per 1000; increase in health expenditure per person from N10000 to N50,000pa and expanding the size of the state by creating several new agencies. He then regretted that they ignored two critical question: How much would they cost? And where would the money come from? As if he saw tomorrow, he emphatically declared that APC had over promised and would under deliver in office, break its promises or run excessive budget deficits; the former is bad for democracy, the latter for the economy. Their reply was that they had it all wrapped up. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we are today!
Even if we leave the magic argument for now, I can also authoritatively state that what APC promised was not and is not change because change is not about soapbox theatricals and integrity deficient politics. It is a serious scientific phenomenon with its own body of knowledge, time tested processes, procedures, and principles as well as critical success factors. APCs change lacked all this. Change characterized by emptiness is not change. With all sense of modesty, I declare that am qualified to speak on this (change and change management). We take it from here some other time but surely, very soon.
• Ik Muo, PhD, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye