Column No.6: Revisiting Nigeria’s unfortunate ‘rock stars’ - By: Abdulkareem Baba Aminu | Dailytrust

Column No.6: Revisiting Nigeria’s unfortunate ‘rock stars’

The shenanigans going on across the political landscape is enough to plunge one into deep depression. From the crass weaponization of ethnicity and religion, and the distortion of security-related issues, to the outright bungling of the welfare of Nigerian citizens, it’s enough to make someone go nuts. But I refuse to be pushed to the edge, and instead present to you again a piece I wrote on that most intriguing creature: the Nigerian politician. – Abdulkareem


On American newsstands, or British newsagents’, a glance across offerings on display will show a variety of newspapers and magazines. The magazines – some wholesome, and many not-so-wholesome – feature all kinds of celebrities: Sports, movies, TV, and music stars. Some are even famous simply for being famous. But over here on our shores, our media has strewn all over the faces of our politicians. You see, in Nigeria, politics is an actual profession. The meat of that statement will have to be discussed in a whole article, on another day. Today, we’re focusing on that oddity called the Nigerian politician.

The Nigerian politician can be an elected official, an appointee, or even an ‘activist’ (the quote marks are to denote how loosely I’m using the term). They mostly are darlings of the electorate when it is time for votes to be cast, or other times when optics are badly needed, and usually to get or gain something. It’s not entirely their fault, no. The electorate is many times a willing victim to exploitation. But that’s not to say because a child is naïve, a parent or a father figure should take that child for a ride. But we’re talking of the Nigerian politician here. Yes, ‘they’re the same everywhere’, that’s true. But other politicians are practically Mother Theresa when compared to our local breed.

It’s pretty simple: The role of a politician, especially an elected official, is to provide the best possible leadership for the betterment of citizens and society. I mean, we see that in the work of Borno State governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, who scores hat trick after hat trick of administrational goals, and continues to dazzle with sprawling infrastructure even in the face of the ongoing insurgency. One would argue that Zulum isn’t a politician per se, but that’s a moot point: He is proof that it is possible for politics and good work to co-exist. Even Kaduna’s Malam Nasir El-Rufai, as accidental a public servant as he says he is, is more proof that politics and development can work hand-in-hand. Do these men have two heads on their shoulders? Nope.

There are a couple more examples of politicians who have a good handle on their jobs and their work output, but frankly I don’t have the space or inclination to embark on a praising spree. Those who know, know. They are fully aware of what they need to do in order to justify the trust of the electorate. But in case they have forgotten, here’s a little refresher: Work. And more work. Work till you have no more left to give. Figuratively of course, but you get the picture. The infrastructure gap in Nigeria isn’t a gap, to be honest. It’s a chasm, which continues to widen because elected officials aren’t doing enough. Of course there are a few bright spots in the rail sector, and some federal roads. But that’s it. It’s not enough.

Then there’s the aptly-named ‘political party’, which is indeed a party. You know, like the wild ones thrown by oft-maligned Nigerian youths (sigh, story for another day). Whenever they have meetings or conventions, or any sort of gathering for that matter, they only discuss selfish interests, and rarely if ever, table actual issues that will make their collectives produce true servants of the people. I’m quite sure that if there’s any political party that has discussed Nigeria’s security issues at length, then I must have somehow missed that memo. But feuds? Check. Cross-carpeting? Check. Grandstanding and shallow chest-beating? Check, and check. It would be very funny, actually, if it weren’t so tragic. I can’t begin to imagine how much progress we would make if our politicians would just get t right.

Nigerian politician need to wake up to their responsibilities. Our nation needs an overhaul, and they are the mechanics. They shouldn’t complain or foot-drag. After all, they put themselves out there to be elected. I can’t even begin to quantify just how foolish a Nigerian I am to hope that all the above is even remotely possible. But hope is all I have left, and that’s something which even the most Nigerian of politicians cannot take away. Even when, like actual unfortunate rock stars, it seems like all they do is raise dust at huge gatherings, promise magnificent performances and fail, sing gibberish, burn money, and achieve little or nothing. I still get to have my hope, and hang on to it. Of course I couldn’t possibly be referring to all Nigerian politicians: Just most of them.