Opinion: Grooming our presidents

by Basil Fadipe

WHEN I saw our President on TV doing his media ‘dance’ last week, pity, not disgust, won the race in my emotions. When subsequent to the interview, I read the negative rating given our president, by a U.S.- based Ghanaian academic, I could empathise with his premises, not his logic. His logic was too under-theorised.

For his rating, he had failed to examine the factors that uniquely line the path to the presidency in the complexity called Nigeria. If you walk into the presidential politics, as though President, you emerge at the other end Non-president. To emerge President, you must step back first from presidential qualities. You must climb down from any moral or philosophical high grounds you might be inhabiting;

To remain pristine is to court  ineligibility. You must walk your way down, if you re a serious contender, elegantly and without remorse, into the plains and shrubs where the voters who will anoint you live in splendid and updated barbarism.

Or else you will be not only a joker, but worse a joke; a joker still has a place in Nigerian politics even if not Aso Rock, but becoming a joke is total reversal of fortune, almost a curse stepping back from pristine virtuosities means stepping forward, not into ridicule, but well into your path to the Rock. You must lift up your overflowing immaculate robes, and with your two eyes, guide your steps calculatedly back into bigotry, corruption, tribalism, greed, and hypocrisy … and then the trophy finds you.

Only such retrograde stepping will land you welcomed into the emotional doorsteps of those who will anoint you. And anoint they will, if once at that doorstep, your immaculacy still rolled up, you demonstrate consummate bargaining, skilled horse-trading, and an uncanny capacity to speak from both sides of your mouth, whilst whistling down the middle.

For bigotry, the country spawns three kinds: the Christian, the Muslim and ironically the academic and with each, you must feign their arts, learning to play ‘catholic more than the pope. They are all three of a kind; each, thro book or books, disciplined or programmed into unyielding straitjacket views of the world around. And unless you promise to step back into their myopia, you risk emerging a joke at the end. Each of the three inhabits a tunnel dug through years of selective schooling and relentless programatisation. The prototype academic has schooled himself into such narrow straits that he now knows more and more about less and less until he knows so much about pretty little and yet may be the first to want to co-pilot your train totally un-ingratiated with the uncharted ruggedness (not ivory-tower-ness) of the track. And you must co-opt.

The prototype Christian, if he is no fake, sees no path to progress unless through his; your presidential train must, needs be, snake and roar through  tunnels  and tunnels  of non- eclectic doctrines, blind to realities beyond the tunnels. And unless you promise him a deal, concealing any alternative purity you may otherwise have in your heart, you risk an exodus even before genesis. His Muslim brother, perhaps enemy, is no different except perhaps more self righteous, more royal blindedness, looking but not seeing, and demanding that you, the aspirant, come within his cauldron. You have to be prepared to give your two eyeballs to merit his endorsement. Insist on keeping them and you lose your path to the Rock.

With the corrupt, laugh and drink with them you must. By the time you get to his doorstep, if anything is still left of your immaculate robe, turn it inside out. Or else the stains sure to come your way will deface the garb at its most inappropriate. You must show willing and fruitful apprenticeship to successfully graduate from the workshed of the corrupt.

And you must not graduate without having first pilfered a few items from his toolbox. The path to the Rock will be perilously unforgiving if you step out the shed into the path, unkitted with tools to prise open a kitty.

As a matter of pragmatism, the deans of the shed will never let you off, unless sure that your DNA has now become co-miscible with theirs and the chimeric product runs an immutable eternity with room for future genetic materials cloned from  shed elements.

Then to the tribalist constituency. To be de-tribalised is to risk perilous isolation; your kith and kin by words or action want your trust and commitment to assure that lifting you up also means lifting up selves. You must step back into their chamber to whisper out the arrangements but in clearly audible decibels, lest, you may yourself miss your train by missing the whistle summon to embark, drowned in village mumbles.

The Greedy is ubiquitous. They need assurance that you recognise and appreciate the bottomlessness of their pits. That even in famine, their personal pots must constantly overrun: the meals, cooked, hot, spiced and glazed; the spoons perennially golden.

The hypocritical is your largest contituency. The class is multiethnic and bi-gender with bias for neither age, faith nor education. They are bound by a common machiavellianism, shooting from their hips for same ends by any means. It is within this class, you finally become totally derobed, in wait, should you consent to the stripping, for the new presidential investiture that you will need to use at Aso Rock.

You enter presidential politics at one end, robed, pristinely immaculate, but  trip realities  de-robe and then re-robe  with progressive maculation as you advance, till you reach the Rock, a spotted leopard ready to devour the subject. But the nation is forever  mindless. Were it not so, why will we see the leopard with his myriad spots and yet unable to identify which of the spots we as individuals or groups contributed to the variegation during his trip.

No. We don’t, we can’t, we won’t.

All we can do is shed crocodile tears, lamenting why we always seem to get spotted predators perched on our rocks waiting to pounce when the monster is every bit our own creation.  When he shows up at our shed, we de-robe the aspirant, and the many tailors we are, fragmentedly re-robe him but only in our own multi-spotted sartorial images. When next you see Jonathan, look for the particular spot on his presidential hide, that you slammed or allow slammed or didn’t disallow when, during the trip, he showed up at your shack. Let everybody do same and you will be surprised what a lovely spotless lamb we get in goodluck.

And so when the Washington-based economics professor  went on Twitter to mourn that Nigerians do not deserve a president of such “unsound mind”, he should have first read all of the theories behind our electioneering filters.

Jonathan is the choice and all we can do is play our part or forever sit and simply brace for impact; consoled this is what democracy is all about and whatever spot on him (including unsound mind) I may not like, is probably the reason another loves him and the reason he survived all of the filters on the road to the Rock.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija. This article was originally printed in the Guardian



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