plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Recently on one of my Facebook patrols, I stumbled on a page where a certain Femi Fani-Kayode was thanking his supporters for their support in his quest to become the governor of Osun state in 2011.

Now there’s nothing wrong with Mr Fani-Kayode wanting to be governor of Osun state…he is a Nigerian and he is of the right age. However what amazed me were the comments on the note from Nigerians.

Pastors and Pastresses were praying for him…declaring that his ascendancy to the governorship of Osun state was only a matter of time seeing as the matter was already settled in heaven. Of course the prayers were all sealed in Jesus name.

One wonders if some of our Pastors and Pastresses will recognise this same Jesus if he walked past them on the street. 

The tendency for our people to forget even the most recent history does not bode well for us in our quest for a better Nigeria. 

Femi Fani-Kayode is a born again christian these days….he signed off the note with the word ‘shalom’. This of course means ‘peace’ for those who are unfamiliar with ‘christianese’.

Like I said there’s nothing wrong with Mr Fani-Kayode wanting to be governor of Osun state. However in any serious democracy the viability of such a candidacy will be tested by his very recent record in government…not by prayers which declare any opposition to him as a waste of time.

I remember the days when Mr Fani-Kayode was Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Obasanjo [2003-2006]. One of his achievements in this post was the manner in which he never failed to insult anyone who disagreed with his boss. 

Everyone from Prof Wole Soyinka to Dr Yakubu Gowon got a tongue lashing from him for daring to challenge the otherwise unquestionable wisdom of his boss.

In those days he managed to make men like Uche Chukwumerije and Tom Ikimi, those avatars of loquaciousness and bombast, look reticent in comparison.

Perhaps he might turn out to be a good governor if he is elected…afterall as we have discovered in Lagos state, good leadership in Nigeria currently happens by luck. But the question that needs to be asked of him is simple; you were in government for 4 years, what exactly did you achieve and why do you think you would make a fine governor? 

Rather than pray prayers which do not get beyond the roof of the room where they are being spoken, we ought to ask people like Mr Fani-Kayode how they plan to better the lives of the people they serve.

As 2011 draws near, it is to be expected that many characters will come out of the woodwork in their latest reincarnation…..telling Nigerians in no uncertain terms that the man/woman we knew recently bears no relation to the person they presently claim to be. A bit like the Evan and Evans dichotomy of a few years ago.

An example? Atiku Abubakar is currently parading himself as the man to arrest the slide in Nigeria occasioned by President Yar’Adua’s speed limit obeying government. Atiku Abubabakar now sees the PDP as a clear and present danger to Nigeria’s future. It’s funny how he never knew this in his 8 years as Vice President on the PDP platform. 

It’s also interesting that he thinks the best way to scupper the PDP juggernaut is to effectively form another PDP by way of the NDI or NDM or whatever they are called.

It’s why it was really disappointing to see Prof Pat Utomi trying to ‘join forces’ with that band. It appears that the good Prof does not have enough faith in his own message or the viability of his own candidacy thereby making him want to get a leg up from them.

I remember being in Atlanta in December 2007….according to Chris Rock, Atlanta is of course the city where all major black decisions are made! 

Speaking to many black folk, I didnt come across one single person who believed Obama could win the Democratic nomination never mind the Presidency. The African immigrants wished he would win but admitted it was impossible. The African-Americans were suspicious of him being an ‘African’ and so on. In any case they didnt think he could win either as white folk wouldnt vote for him.

However momentum is a wonderful thing. On January 3rd 2008 Obama won the Iowa primaries in a state that was over 90% white and the rest is history as far as the direction of the black vote after that.

One also should not forget that in the summer of 2007, at one point Obama was trailing Hilary Clinton by something like 20 points in the polls.

The point I’m trying to make is that even though the task of winning the Presidency seems like an impossible one for people like Pat Utomi, [as of now he has my vote] that is absolutely no excuse to join forces with people who were actively part of the problem in the country only very recently.

It is up to those who believe they have a superior message and plan for the country to capture the imagination of Nigerians and sell that message to them. There is currently no easy way to go about this. If we are to build an alternative power base to the present set of people we have, it has to be done from the ground up.

But I digress.

Nigeria is like the man who went to a barber for a haircut. As soon as he was strapped in the seat and the protective cloth put over him, he told the barber to only take a bit off his already full hair to make it neat. But the barber proceeded to use a blade and comb to shave the whole thing off.

What makes it worse is that the man went to the same barber the very next time he needed a hair cut and each time the barber would promise to get it right this time…only to shave the whole hair off again. And everytime he would go back to the same barber hoping that things would be different each time. 

And so the more things change in Nigeria, the more they remain the same.

They will soon be back to ask for your votes. They will tell you how it was God Himself who ordained their candidacy and only stop short of reprising the infamous ‘bo tie soro, o ti wole’ mantra of recent history.

They will tell you that you are powerless to stop them from realising their ambitions. Their supporters will shout it from the rooftops that no other person could possibly be better than their candidate and that he/she will bring so much change that the people themselves wont know what hit them.

They will also leave nothing to chance…on the off chance that you do not vote for them, they will put in place a rigging contingency plan just to make sure. 

But there is one aspect of the whole process that they have no control over; they are counting on you to forget. They expect you not to remember their stewardship and conduct when they were in office. They require you to forget who they were and accept them for who they currently say they are.

They need Nigerians to behave exactly as they have always done…..the people who have no threshold for pain or suffering. They want to get away with the implied notion that Nigeria was created to underachieve in perpetuity.

Nothing scares these people like change. Absolutely nothing.

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