By: Andy Akporugo Jr
THE PRIEST AND HIS QUEST FOR KINGDOM – When you have made a hefty payment for a ring side seat to watch the Royal Rumble – an affectionate description for that fierce promise of bloodbath by contenders energized by months of playing very dangerous games of blood and sweat with metals the measure of which more than doubles their own weight – and someone frail from apparently making a sport out of abstaining from training, but who bears visible scars from successive defeats at previous editions of the event on which all are now focused, steps forward blocking your view, and beseeches the contenders, all 68 of them, to essentially hand over to him as winner, the ‘glittering trophy’ for which they swear deathly contention, you are likely to look at your ticket again to see if magic was offered as part of the entertainment. You probably would thereafter seek to grab some understanding of the unfolding event from the reaction of the wrestlers to whom the request is directed. If they discountenance him, then he is excluded from the show and should you wish to insist on the rights of your ticket, you would promptly demand that he clears your view. Otherwise you would undertake the charity of twisting and turning such as to minimize the detriment of his positioning to it.
When the Reverend Chris Okotie wrote letters to the Chairmen of the PDP and APC exactly two months ago today, requesting that their parties adopt him as their consensus candidate for the 2019 Presidential elections, he was like that frail gentleman seeking a tournament’s trophy from outside its contest, offering something not on the ticket, the description of which we are yet unsure. Perhaps if he had claimed that he made the request only in reluctant execution of a celestial errand, then we would sit back and await the miraculous. But he did not. Or did he do so by the implication of his vocation as God’s mouthpiece? Maybe he leaves that matter for their careful discernment!
Whatever the situation, as at today the addressee-Chairmen have neither acknowledged nor replied the letters, although someone loudly swears that they have received and read them. There is a claim that the Chairmen are not quintessential gentlemen – one, an Andoni Prince, being of the stock of pure African royalty and thus way above that description, and the other, a Comrade, tempered by combat experiences at a height quite below it. The culture of either would seem to advise that the content of such a letter should have been presented with the accompaniment of kolanuts, ‘‘ose-oji’’ and schnapps or only after the courtesy of a prior meetings or discussions between writer and addressee; certainly much beyond what a mere office dispatcher or courier company would normally offer.
Whether for the above or other reasons however, it seems clear today that the Chairmen and their parties have simply ignored, even sneered at Mr Okotie’s kind gesture and gone ahead to call and receive money for nominations for the parties’ candidatures for the office of President, as well as fix dates for their respective primaries towards beating the deadlines issued by INEC for the submission of the names of their candidates.
Not being the addressee of the said letter whether personally or as amongst the unfortunate Nigerian mass, and not in either stead given notice of it by express copy of the writer or by reason of its content being published as an open letter, one cannot claim any good courtesy for prying into it. But who cares! Good courtesy is arguably not the great quality of any of the parties to the correspondence at one point or the other, and as that madly enjoyable street bard would say, ‘‘na who courtesy epp?’’. So let’s look at the offerings of the Reverend gentleman, even if from between dark blinds!
Shorn of most of its bombast, Reverend Okotie’s letter says four simple things:
First, that ‘‘Nigeria has become a divided and segregated society like never before…polarized by ethnicity…and religious fundamentalism…political insensitivity and leadership disability’’, all ‘‘existential threats that seek to engender the fragmentation and disintegration of our nation as a holistic entity.’’
Second, that to right these wrongs and meet with the dreams of the founding fathers of our nation, Nigeria, whose ‘‘federalism is simply terminological inexactitude [and]…a realistic piece of fakery…is in dire need of restructuring’’, in respect of which endeavor we would not find help in the constitution as ‘‘the legal protocol that guarantees the peaceful co-existence of autonomous ethnicities’’, it being ‘‘…obsolete, retrogressive and subverse to the Nigerian cause’’
Third, that ‘‘no extant or subsisting government can right these aberrations for obvious reasons of parochial party considerations and entrenched partisan rivalries within the polity.’’
Fourth, that to bring about a wholesome repair, he has ‘‘re-emerged from …political hibernation to contest for the office of President in the forthcoming elections…fully persuaded that Nigeria needs a man who is credible, dependable and trustworthy; a God fearing man who is embroidered with compassion and love for country. A man who will be readily accepted as a symbol of National unity, who can bring genuine reconciliation and guarantee peace and tranquility in our nation. A man who is completely insulated from the variegated conflicts that mark the antecedents of our major political actors’’, and [strikingly similar to the claim of that man who belonged to everyone and no one, although perhaps unintended] ‘‘a man who can apply the principle of malice towards none, and charity for all; who can invoke a pan Nigerian philosophy that rejects the partisan provincialism of finger pointing at this time when Nigeria is threatened by existential adversaries. A man of the requisite intellectual capacity and moral perpendicularity.’’
He believes he is that person but regrettably does not offer any factual basis for others to share his belief.
Certainly Mr. Okotie does not say that his claims that Nigeria’s federalism is essentially counterfeit and her peoples are fiercely divided along primordial sentiments are the outcome of a eureka moment, except perhaps in the same manner that Mungo Park discovered the River Niger, they being facts about which we are already familiar from painful daily experience. And truly, the communication of that reality is not the object of the letter. Its sole purpose is to get the concerned parties to accept him as their consensus candidate mainly upon a recommendation of self, lifted out of indulgent entries in his personal diary.
But to be charitable, he does a little bit more than that when he offers as additional reason for his pick, his proposed mandate to set up ‘‘an interim government …christened GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION AND RECONSTRUCTION as the mechanical instrumentality for the crystallization of the new Nigeria of our dreams.’’ He promises that this would be predicated on a new concept of ‘‘Aboriginal democracy’’ apparently because ‘‘our current democracy has been hijacked by elitism, mysticism and Satanism.’’ He then gives a picture of his Aboriginal democracy when he says that it ‘‘… will focus on cultural historicity, evolutional modernity and global relativity as the necessary ingredients of our evolutional political indigenization.’’
But if this exact inexactitude of his description [I like the sound of that] leaves you scratching your head, he offers a comb, when he elucidates quite curiously, that ‘‘under this system the current legislature would merge with the judiciary to create a unique judicature that administers justices and shares the enactment of legislative responsibilities with the Presidency. This would save us the huge cost of running the national assembly and obviate all the paralyzing debates that often stalls the passage of bills.’’ Ewooooo!!!
Except this letter is intended only as first of a series such that pieces of it are later to be woven to make a good presentation at the end, it is strange for many reasons not the least of which is its apparent illogic. There is also the employment of a strategy in which he apparently suggests solutions in words that make great effort to hide their meanings curiously, at a time in which he admits that we need to act fast ‘‘to avert the manifestation of the great inevitable’’ – much in the same way that proprietary requirements would advise a man discussing his unpatented works! This method certainly questions his trumpeted altruism!
Now a few examples:
i. How does he manage to identify the problems of Nigeria as its polarization by ethnicity, balkanization by religious fundamentalism, fracture by political insensitivity and leadership disability and then leave out any reference to solving these problems by his promised mandate, but instead elect to give an only solution, the main object of which is to ‘‘save us the huge cost of running the National Assembly and obviate all the paralyzing debates that often stalled the passage of bills’’. Where is the nexus?
ii. Why introduce a supposed remedial concept as ‘‘aboriginal democracy’’, perhaps never spoken anywhere else and only offer as its description, the abstraction provided by such elastic, non-meaning words which lamely promise that it ‘‘will focus on cultural historicity, evolutional modernity and global relativity as the necessary ingredients of our evolutional political indigenization.’’ What’s that?
iii. Even if he is accepted as consensus candidate, how does he intend to set up an interim government upon an election that demands a constitutional tenure of 4 years for winners and creates no interim office?
iv. How does merging a National Assembly whose large membership is already constitutionally provided with a judiciary similarly thronged, save the cost of running the National Assembly?
v. In any case how would the judicature function aboriginally?
Questions, many, many unanswered questions.
In all, I believe that the much beloved gentleman’s letter makes a less than stellar case for him and his ideas which perhaps have enjoyed better presentations elsewhere, going by the enthusiasm of a few very enlightened friends of mine who mostly comprise flock for his weekly homilies.
In the meantime, I would enjoy the letter for its well-aimed, though subtle mockery of the political class for not having men with the quality of good, responsible leadership which he carries by divine ‘telescope’ and for its perhaps unintended discourtesy for the 68 other party chairmen to whom no letter was written, perhaps on account of the supposed unflattering size of their relevance. There is also the unspoken superciliousness of the letter’s attempt to determine the destiny of our peoples essentially over their heads; but the cake goes to the quite laughable irony that the Reverend gentleman would depend on the same selfish people who would not redress the problems of Nigeria because of ‘‘reasons of parochial party considerations and entrenched party rivalries’’ to pick him against their interest as consensus candidate.
But then again I am reminded of the scripture in 1st Corinthians that ‘‘God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.’’ And so we wait!