It is hilarious that while the political parties in the United States are preparing for public debates to lure swing votes, our parties are locked in a war of words over a gold card invitation to a convention.
It was 1993, and Naughty by Nature had just released an album titled 19 Naughty III, made popular by the hit single Hip Hop Hooray. It was a good time for Hip-Hop, and music produced in faraway America was influencing Nigerian teenagers in a way the artistes could not have imagined. The bug caught three of my friends so much; they formed a group named House of Pain, a tribute to the American Hip-Hop group with the same name. To announce the formation of their group, my friends decided to throw a party that year, and as you might have guessed, it was tagged 19 Naughty III. It was billed to be the biggest party of the year, and entry to that party guaranteed your street credibility.
I was not surprised when two quiet boys in my form offered House of Pain a wad of $100 bills to be included on the RSVP list for the 19 Naughty III party. If they could not get straight A’s in class, or score goals on the football field, they deserved a chance to pay their way to popularity. Sadly, the experiment ended badly. My friends took their money, and decided all they could get was entry into the party. After the second “all boys out” session (some might remember this), they were not allowed into the venue again, and they faded into ignominy after that day.
Nearly two decades later, it is amusing to see the leaders of Nigeria’s main opposition party recreate the scene I just described. Some of our politicians clearly felt they could improve their street credibility by attending the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte last week. There is something hilarious about watching adults follow a strategy used by high school kids, even if it is one doomed to fail. The explanation of how a “prime gold invitation” given to the leader of Nigeria’s opposition morphed into an ordinary invitation available for $5,000 sounds like something from Sarah Palin’s collection of thick quotes. The biggest tragedy is that our leading opposition party thought this charade was worth the trouble; and an invitation to the DNC conferred some special status on it or was a validation of the party and its leadership. It is an indication of the quality of leadership we are being subjected to across the country; where those that possess tiny bits of grey matter make decisions that define our lives. If these are the ones thinking about development in the South-West, it is no surprise that governance is possibly at its lowest level since 1999.
Of course, this comedy show will not be complete without sound bites from “Africa’s Biggest Party.” In fairness to them, it was difficult to let an opportunity to give some stick to the opposition pass, even if the result was predictable. It is hilarious that while the political parties in the United States are preparing for public debates to lure swing votes, our parties are locked in a war of words over a gold card invitation to a convention. This is what happens when political parties are merely fingers of a leprous hand (apologies to the Cicero of Esa-Oke), devoid of ideology and values. Today, Olisa Metuh and Lai Mohammed are trading insults like characters in Lola Shoneyin’s Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives; tomorrow they will click glasses as comrades in the same party. It is symptomatic of the Nigerian polity, where the only ideology is the colour of money and the thirst for power.
We are three years away from another general election, and Nigerians will again be faced with the agony of choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The path to independent candidacy cannot come soon enough.
* Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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