• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Of cannon fodders in Rivers and playing ping-pong with monarchs

Of cannon fodders in Rivers and playing ping-pong with monarchs

Politics in Nigeria is frightening; things seem not to be getting better. Everywhere, political office holders are showing their weight, not on positive governance but on showcasing their power of being in charge and calling the shots. I hope you are in tune with the many traditional rulers in the hands of state governors. If you thought that the “promise and fail” politics of politicians was synonymous with Nigeria, you better take a peep into Kenya. Why are politicians using the youth as cannon fodder? Kindly engage with the actors in the Rivers’ political impasse. Very sad!

Playing ping-pong with traditional rulers

The Vice President, Kashim Shettima, stirred the hornets’ nest last Monday during his presentation at a security summit in Katsina State. The VP pointedly advised the Sokoto State government to treat the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, as an institution.

He said: “And to the Deputy Governor of Sokoto, I have a simple message for you: Yes, the Sultan is the Sultan of Sokoto, but he is much more than that; he represents an idea; he is an institution that all of us in this country need to jealousy guard, protect, promote, preserve, and project for the growth of our nation.”

Shettima was said to have spoken on the basis of information he received, particularly on the strength of the allegation by the leadership of the Muslim Rights Council (MURIC) that plots were afoot to dethrone the Sultan by the Sokoto State government.

Would it be safe to say that the VP’s comment was premature and unnecessary? By no means! If for anything, the warning was timely and precautionary. If the state government had such an untoward plan, the VP’s intervention would have saved the day. By the same token, was the red flag raised by MURIC mischievous? Again, it may be very dangerous to discountenance when considering the treatment given to 15 traditional rulers in April by the state government. So, the allegation could find an explanation in the popular maxim that “there is no smoke without fire.”

“But MURIC believes that there was more to the removal of the traditional rulers than the stated allegations.”

In April, Sokoto State Governor Ahmed Aliyu dethroned 15 district heads over alleged insubordination, land racketeering, aiding insecurity, and conversion of public properties.

But MURIC believes that there was more to the removal of the traditional rulers than the stated allegations.

Although the state government has denied any move to tamper with the Sultan’s status, the State House of Assembly has already passed the Sokoto Emirate Council Amendment Bill through the first and second readings.

Read also: Authenticity and transparency in leadership are significant strengths in business – Sanusi

That was the same “kurukere move in Kano State in 2020 under Governor Abdullahi Ganduje that eventually led to the dethronement of Emir Lamido Sanusi.

Ganduje saw Emir Sanusi as a hot cocoyam he could not handle in his palm. The reasons are obvious.

Sanusi’s upbringing made it impossible for him to be pocketed. He was highly westernised, highly educated, intellectually versatile, articulate, and outspoken, ready at any given opportunity to engage on topical issues. These ranged from Shari’ah to economics, international finance, Almajiri (child begging), the education of girls, and gender equality.

His views on many issues were radical, modern, and secular in orientation.

Sanusi refused to conform to palace etiquette when delivering speeches. He went public at the slightest opportunity to express his opinion, even on government policies.

The Ganduje administration also saw him more as an opposition mouthpiece than a father and a collaborative stakeholder.

Like Sanusi, the Sultan is a no-nonsense monarch. He does not take prisoners, and he does not suffer fools gladly. He speaks truth to political powers.

The media is awash with stories of sheer persecution of traditional rulers by state governors for flimsy reasons. Some are sanctioned because they refuse to be enemies of people that their governors have branded political enemies. They are dragged into politics, whereas they should be apolitical. A number of them have been stripped of their titles because of all sorts of alleged insubordination or other reasons.

It is getting worse by the day. Expressing concern over the increasing disrespect for traditional institutions in Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, said: “I must also appeal to state governors to accord the necessary respect to the traditional institutions. The customs that our traditional rulers represent are the totality of our heritage as a people.”

Read also: Kenya’s Ruto withdraws controversial tax bill amid protests

Kenya: Sofri, sofri William Ruto

If any soothsayer had told the people of Kenya two years ago that, by today, many of them would be pouring into the streets to protest the government’s harsh policies, the majority would have doubted it.

For days now, the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, has been hot with protests mounted by citizens who proclaimed “7 Days of Rage” against the proposed tax increases in the Finance Bill 2024.”

Reports have it that, at least, 23 people have died in the clashes between the protesters and the police.

William Ruto, who was massively voted for by the people in the keenly contested election in 2022, has described the protests in his country as “treasonous.”

But there would not have been any reason for treason if the elected government had kept its own part of the social contract with the people.

On his day of inauguration, tens of thousands of people cheered as he was sworn in as president. They had looked forward to a new Kenya.

At that historic event, Ruto said that a “village boy” had become president.

Ruto enjoyed massive support from Kenyan citizens and residents when he couched his campaign on “hustlers versus dynasties.” He had pledged a new deal in Kenya, and the people had seen in him a new future and renewed hope. But less than two years later, wild protests are going on in Kenya.

In fact, the disappointment began less than one year in office, when the people began to make bonfires in major cities. The citizens had become pissed off by the excruciating pain Ruto’s policies were placing on them. The weight of huge taxes is breaking the people’s backs. Even cab drivers on the street are lamenting the inclement operating environment. From what is going on now vis-à-vis what Ruto promised the people, can we say that the words of John Webster, an English dramatist (c. 1580–c. 1632), fittingly captured the scenario? “A politician imitates the devil, as the devil imitates cannon; wheresoever he comes to do mischief, he comes with his backside towards you.”

Read also: Bomb Scare: Fubara says detractors targeting state of emergency in Rivers

Too many cannon fodders in Rivers

The high level of unemployment in the country has created an army of street urchins and thugs who are ready tools for politicians. They are mobilised for all manner of terrible political errands, including engaging in battles, the causes of which they do not know. This high level of joblessness in the country has also made it possible for politicians to gather, in a twinkle of an eye, a large crowd of youths to engage in one protest or another. The lingering political impasse in Rivers State has created an opportunity for street boys to be willing tools in the hands of politicians. Every now and then, they are mobilised to carry out one protest or another. While some of the youths are killed, many others sustain life-threatening injuries in the process.

Innocent village women are also being mobilised to protest on the street. They are given placards they cannot even read and are paid a meagre amount of money that barely takes care of them the day of the rally. If any of them sustains any injury in the course of the protest, they are abandoned to their fate. Most times, those who go to mobilise them are middlemen who got the contract from the politicians.

While the politicians are pushing other people’s children to the street to protest on their behalf, none of their own children take part in such a street march. Regrettably, these hapless youth fail to learn any lessons and look back on what happened to them yesterday.

It is sad that the unfortunate political situation will consume the lives of a number of youths in the state that the politicians should ordinarily be serving.

Sadly, too, the crisis in Rivers has created instability and threatens the smooth running of the state government.

What this means is that while the state government is distracted, the chances of attending to the health, education, and other social needs of the people are faint and distant.