The Audition for the Inciter-In-Chief and Other Concerns Towards 2023 General Elections — Segun Awosanya (Segalink)
In 1949 George Orwell described a nightmarish future in the classic dystopian novel 1984 and one of the most popular quotation in his oeuvre is “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
In the Nigeria of now we can conclude that there are several conspiracies playing out towards the 2023 general elections and the leading propagandists are those claiming to bring about a change, while deploying old antics just to pull a wool over the eyes of the vulnerable masses.
Unfortunately, wittingly or unwittingly, the fourth estate of the realm, the Press/Media, with the explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues are also part of this conspiracy, given the fact that of the 18 different political parties slated to participate in the election, only three (3 or 4 occasionally) are showcased based on the need to engage the roving mob that keeps the 3 in their mention, thus systemically disenfranchising the remaining 15 with substantial values to bring to the political dialogue.
It can be argued that the mainstream media have bills to pay and would need to supply narratives based on demand, but can click baits, trending rhetorics and well worn lame narratives being projected as substance be a solution to the Nigerian political conundrum? In a secular state, should the internal rancor (Muslim/Muslim or North/South debacle) of any political party become subject of national discourse over the pertinent matters of the state of our union? Is populism a solution to our leadership crisis given all that we have gone through in the past years (especially in the past 7 years)?
A Yoruba apothegm states that when brothers come out laughing from a family meeting, they have economized the truth to avoid conflict and have thus, began a war within themselves, however much they may choose to avoid confronting this reality. There has been a tremendous attempt to silence the voices of reason through cyber bullying, blackmail, character assassination via contracting a rogue self acclaimed investigative journalist (on self exile), who specializes in libel and notably the deployment of threat to life in some cases as have been recorded with Reno Omokri, Pastor Poju Oyemade, Sam Omatseye, Deji Adeyanju, Aare Dele Momodu (and many other notable figures) and most recently Femi Anikulapo Kuti, whose family was threatened along side the promise to set the African Shrine ablaze, simply because Peter Obi’s ‘IPOBean’ mob failed to force an endorsement. They also did not spare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and HE Atiku Abubakar from their unhinged malevolent and vicious online mob attacks.
The Candidate of the Labour Party (ex-PDP Chieftain) HE Peter Obi keeps riding the wave of these online violence and cyber bullying with inciting words that are mostly semiotics of social standing and cultural posturing (half information and pretentious piety). The Cable quoted him as saying— “We’re going to take back Nigeria and give to the Youth” as though he is not part of the same old system he has chosen to target for harassment. He knows quite clearly that the mob he is leading on are void of independent thoughts and were mostly secession agitators amongst other hate groups that have found a comfortable abode under his negligently chaotic, mendacious and divisive campaign, that disturbs public peace within the online community and may soon degenerate into civil disobedience if the coercion and abuse is not curbed.
Nigeria belongs to ALL Nigerians and no one can give to the youth what already belongs to them. The click bait campaign will not upstage the dominant contenders. We must stop raising false hopes and address the real issues. Insults and abuses are no structures and encouraging division must be jettisoned! The well worn political tactics of promising to give to people what already belongs to them is like picking their pocket and displaying what was stolen from them. This is highly manipulative and justifies the reservations some deep thinkers have about Peter Obi’s campaign (which is mostly implemented by his mob in the form of campaign of calumny against dissent). Nigerians do not need deceivers posing as a solution at this point of our polity!
Nigerians are vulnerable now more than ever in yet another quest to solve their leadership crisis and what is substantial is for the candidates to prove to us WHY they should be supported and HOW they will mitigate the critical issues buffeting the development of the nation. On this account the valid criteria for attracting audience would be the presentation of documented manifesto that the people can study and ask crucial questions during the campaign and debates in order to make objective decision in the know.
There are efforts to deliberately lower the bar and reduce logical national discourse to sentimental rhetorics set to further incite and divide the people along ethnic and religious lines. It usually begins with the coordinated attacks on public figures, especially the ones the people rely on for factual and objective engagement on national issues. The irony here is the fact that the real Third Force Candidate —Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) standard bearer— Prince Adewole Adebayo Esq, the AAC’s Omoyele Sowore, NNPP’s Sir Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, have all remained on topic addressing critical issues as well as the Candidates of the Legacy Political Parties APC (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and PDP (HE Atiku Abubakar). None of the supporters of these prominent contenders have gone rogue enough to threaten the unity of Nigeria or the freedom of expression and association of others like the ‘Obi supporters’ (The Militia Wing of Peter Obi’s Campaign) have chosen to do so brazenly.
In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, written a century and half before Collingwood’s memoir, the great economist and social theorist Adam Smith defined why a civilized society is not a war of all against all – because it is based on sympathy. It is my considered view that empathy, responsibility and conscientiousness are all being defenestrated in the political amoral macabre dance, because there are no consequences for political recklessness in Nigeria, despite the rising security vulnerability of our clime.
No matter where you are in the world, you will agree that it is very easy to identify a Nigerian a mile off. It is either by their demeanor, dressing, manner of speech or use of words. When in a business meeting, Nigerians exhibit their nationality by making statements like, “We are the first ever to do so and so” or “We are the only one in this market” My candidate is the Only candidate on the Ballot” etc. These statements as well as others, spare not the people in high ranking positions neither does it respect social stratification. They are symptoms of a religious annexation to fallacies and the undying love for Monopoly and recognition.
Our firms, government as well as individuals, seek dominion across spectrum. Those in the business sector want to dominate the market, dictate pricing and profit perpetually from the market. Little wonder the aim of most is usurping political power enough to own everything that works across sectors. It explains why politicians own/fund media outfits, since the very first leg to ruling the market is to control group minds, beliefs and ideas of the masses. The same way politicians use public funds to stabilize the financial status of their private firms under the guise of ‘saving it in the business they trust’ and brag with this fraudulent unethical behavior during campaign to the cheers of copiously ignorant unfortunate ethnically bigoted souls.
Public intellectuals and authors have argued that monopoly, however desirable is the failure of capitalism. When Monopoly is ignited (especially in our clime, with the aid of government), the consumer no longer has a choice, prices escalate and innovation plunges with the forceful gag on the voice of the consumer public. Since we are being factual, looking around you today, you will see glaringly that this is the summary of what is happening across spectrum, while our government pay lip service to creating enabling environment or ease of doing business on paper. The same can be said about the folksy and deceitful “From Consumption to Production” campaign void of any meaningful framework beyond exciting the ignorant masses on yet another trajectory of forlorn hope.
Majority of Nigerians are susceptible to the entertainment reality TV shows brings, which is more like a desired bride of the Post-Modernistic age, where people embrace the simulation of a simulation just to avoid the harshness of reality. This need not require statistics because we know this is true. DSTV rakes in Millions if not more annually with their Big Brother reality TV show. A lot of our youth erroneously believe reality shows are about reality but forget that they are principally shows, designed for entertainment and profit. This has become a culture because we make heroes of flawed people in our society and create narratives around them as though it were some game we can vote on.
Our lives have since become reality shows, while lurking behind avatars and social-media handles (surrogates). The more uncertain the real world gets the more people long for escape. We often take refuge behind our surrogate lives on social-media, where we can do the impossible virtually to compensate for our failures and uncertainties in reality. It is no surprise that a nasty, flawed, bad behaved Facebook/Twitter/Instagram personality living through daily drama and tragedy will gain more followers on Twitter and Facebook simply because people love flawed (hilarious) fictional characters they can jeer and root for.
Brands are not left behind. They will move their products and services cum promotions to the pages/handles that get the attention of the crowd for visibility, endorsement, exposure and impressions. The same theory holds true for train-wrecks and badly behaved characters on reality TV shows who get more votes to stay on, while morally good characters are evicted.
Our world has changed indeed as superhero movies no longer attract huge views based on the goody two shoes act of protagonist but for their flaws, drama (in their lives) and the threat posed by the villain in the movie. It will interest you also that this explains why men wants good girls, who will become bad girls for them alone in the confines of their bedroom. Likewise, why ladies want bad boys who will be good to them and them alone. Something in us just want the intrigue, drama and adrenaline pump from escapades and wild adventures that take our breathe away.
The reality however remains that we all love to watch this play out in other people’s lives than be a part of the drama ourselves. The dichotomy however presents itself when we are confronted with the need to vote political leaders. We somehow cannot seem to make that transition enough to understand clearly that our culture of choosing characters on reality TV shows is confined only to the screens and not in real life. Fundamentally, politics have real life consequences.
Nobody reserves the rights to tell you who to vote for, not your Pastors, Imams, Governor, Traditional rulers or Celebrities (custodian of societal behavior). It is your constitutional right to choose freely without coercion and not to be discriminated against based on that inalienable right to choose. Cyber bullying remains a crime in Nigeria and the authorities are aware of the current development and will start taking action soonest against known extremists constituting a nuisance online with threats to the life of others.
The valid directive remains taking -personal responsibility to study the options and decide in the know based on Competence, Capacity, Capability, Credibility, Character, Clarity, and Conscientiousness. Nigeria belongs to all of us and all forms of extremism MUST be shunned along religious and ethnic lines. Identity politics of hate is never a useful approach to lifting any nation out of political doldrums and any individual or political party deploying this clearly should not be encouraged with an engagement at our collective expense.
John Boyd’s framework for action in conflict is highly recommended here as there is a cause to; OBSERVE (collecting data and analyzing same) across the sectors of our economy, ORIENT (Frame the analyzed data on issue based basis) along the confines of global Culture and best practices, knowledge and the application of education and experience, which makes informed DECISION (Strategy) easier towards picking a course of action. It is until then that we can simulate (TEST) our idea before taking it to the market with ACTION. The figurative primitive animism of the attribution of sentience to inanimate political figures on a trial and error basis will only claim more lives of innocent souls as done once before. It is time to put an end to the elect and regret cycle of the politics of ethnic extraction and religious bigotry as mired in identity politics of hate.
The Children are watching and absorbing and it is incumbent on us (custodian of societal behavior and responsible and active citizens) to take seriously the prayer in our National Anthem that admonishes that we pray to the “God of Creation to direct our noble cause, and guide our leaders right, while helping our youth the truth to know.” Talking at each other, hating on each other and dividing the people along ethnic lines only favor our collective enemy (social injustice). We can put an end to this and recalculate our coordinates towards building a nation where Peace and Justice shall reign.
Segun Awosanya (SEGALINK) is the CEO of a futuristic Brand, Media, Tech, Research, Business & Strategy Consultancy firm (Aliensmedia), The President/Founder of Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation (SIAF) and the Convener of #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy.