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Nigerian Politicians And Theatre Of The Absurd



These are, indeed, interesting times in Nigeria, a period when no day passes without one political farce or burlesque. The sad aspect of this comedy of the absurd is that the dramatis personae are prominent members of the political class. There seem to be a nexus between Nollywood and our politicians. Recent happenings in the country have validated the views of those suggesting that after office, some of these Nigerian politicians will make it big as actors.

Two recent events are capable of making one lose hope in the average Nigerian politician; they are a confirmation that a typical politician in this clime can sell his mother if that will boost his chances of winning the next election. American actress, producer and entrepreneur, Texas Guinan, probably had Nigerian politicians in mind when she asserted that “a politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.”

Starting with the slapstick defection comedy in Benue State, some youths were said to have ambushed the convoy of the state governor, Samuel Ortom, while on his way to Abuja to meet with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja.  According to reports, the youths removed the APC flag on the governor’s car and literally stopped him from moving.

Curiously, the governor, with his horde of security details, could not stop the youths from preventing him from attending a crucial political meeting in Abuja. What this means is that herdsmen or Boko Haram could one day ambush the convoy of the governor and his security aides will be rendered powerless to stop the attack?

Perhaps, it could be that what the filmmakers had was a great script that became an awful movie or a screenplay that is far better than the film. If not, then it was a badly written script by an amateur writer. If this was not stage managed, why didn’t the governor fire all his security details for the breach of security? To crown it all, Governor Ortom went back to a Town Hall meeting and announced his defection to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ironically, the same governor who was on his way to Abuja for a reconciliation meeting still arranged a Town Hall meeting at the same time that same day. Unless he is omnipresent, it cast a spell in the eyes of even the ordinary man that Ortom’s plan was to be in Abuja and in Makurdi at the same time.

He also killed it by saying that he bowed to pressure from his people to defect to the PDP. The same people of Benue who have been crying for their salaries to be paid in the last 10 months? Which is more important to the people – that the people-loving governor pay their salaries or he defect to another party? Just like James Hadley Chase titled one of his novels, ‘Believe This You Will Believe Anything’.

It is foolhardy for anyone to believe that youths are powerful enough to stop a convoy of a sitting governor in Nigeria. With the security situation in Benue, a governor’s security details would be extra careful and in these perilous times in our nation’s history, they could even shoot before taking orders.

And now to the second political farce. When the name of Senator Dino Melaye is mentioned, the thought of playacting, fiction and exaggeration readily crosses the mind. He is arguably the most popular Senator in the 8th National Assembly. We were treated to another round of comedy in a script that would make Nollywood popular comic actor, Nkem Owoh, become green with envy. When reports emerged that Senator Melaye had been kidnapped, many were inclined to believe the story but recalling the lawmaker’s antecedents one can also choose to be skeptical about the whole scenario. Dino was said to have been abducted on his way to Lokoja for a court case.

In case we have forgotten, let’s refresh our minds on some current scenes from Dino’s comedy series. In the heat of the recall process, officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) were in his office to serve him papers physically. After plenary, he bolted out of the National Assembly complex, all in a bid to escape being served the papers.

In another episode, when the Police wanted to take him to Lokoja, he attempted a James Bond stunt by jumping out of the Police vehicle. He was caught on camera threatening to kill himself and put the Police in trouble. It was not a case of being misquoted; Dino was seen  making the threat on the video that went viral.

Then last week when he was to appear before a court in Lokoja, the Senator was allegedly kidnapped. Too many coincidences and I don’t believe in coincidences. When the news of his kidnap filtered in, many Nigerians didn’t take it serious. Dino became the butt of jokes on the social media. Some were casting headlines like, ‘Dino abducted by Dino’. It was a classic case of the boy who cried Wolf. And just like some Nigerians predicted, he resurfaced few days later to entertain gullible Nigerians – or so he thinks – with his tales by moonlight.

Narrating the story of his kidnap and ‘miraculous’ escape, Dino said, “I jumped into the bush, and I started running. They pursued me and I was able to out-manoeuvre them and climb a tree. I was on top of the three when I saw them run past looking frantically for me. When they didn’t find me, they also ran back.”

I don’t think even Dino himself believes Nigerians would fall for this scam. So, he was able to outrun his abductors who I believe must have had guns? It is incredible that Dino, with his burly frame, was able to outrun his abductors, and climbed a tree and spent 11 hours on top when he is not a monkey. Next scene please!

If Dino fails to win the next election, Nollywood should be his next destination. He will give stars like RMD and Ramsey Noah a good run for their money. Perhaps, he was actually kidnapped but his antecedents forbid some of us to interpret this badly written script.

There is no doubt that as we approach the 2019 general election we would be seeing more of this Nollywood movie from our politicians. Like Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap”. But they should not forget that in all this film acting, they are the comic relief and as it is in the script, the ordinary Nigerians who read between the lines are the heroes.



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