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The Season of Political Hypocrisy is Here

Editorial Note:

The author, Ahmed Musa Husaini, first shared this blog via a Facebook status on January 15, 2022. Since posting his status, Mr. Husaini has agreed to officially publish the blog at Applied Worldwide Nigeria.

As the drums of 2023 begin to beat louder, Nigerians are dancing to its beats in predictable fashion. One half of the country canceling and calumnizing the other half, one side of the political spectrum unfriending and blocking the other side. Politics in Nigeria is a zero-sum game, and political narratives tend to be deeply polarizing, mutually-rejecting and other-maligning.

But if we had learnt any lessons in the past 7 years under Buhari, it is that Nigerian politicians are similar across all platforms. They only differ in degree and not type. They primarily care about their interests. And given the right political bargain, they can sleep soundly on the suffering of their people. Where there interets are concerned, there is no principle they cannot trade, no ideal they cannot violate.

I therefore find it ridiculous when people say candidate A must not run, or see anybody that supports Candidate B as an enemy. Yes, you have the right to support any candidate of your choice. Any candidate whatsoever! But so does every other Nigerian. We are all entitled to our political choices, no matter how unpalatable they appear. That’s why it is called democracy.

Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi, Atiku, Ahmed and any of the people interested in succeeding Baba are eminently qualified to aspire to rule Nigeria. By the way, the bar is increasingly becoming low in the past 10 years. It is Nigerians that will decide which candidate to vote for, whose vision (if there’s any) of the Nigerian nation they align with. Any attempt to sound that some candidates shouldn’t even contest or people shouldn’t support certain candidates is utterly delusional and borderline paternalistic.

Electoral candidates win elections on two grounds: either on the strength of their own electability or on the strength of the relative un-electability of their opponents. Your job is to simply prove why your candidate deserves to be elected and why his opponent shouldn’t be elected. It doesn’t involve insults, threats and other conduct beyond the pale of acceptable political etiquette.

We are all witnesses to the polarizing politics of 2014/2015 where the two protagonists (Buhari and Jonathan) have moved on to become great friends while the poor masses whose heads were used to break their political coconuts are still suffering from the consequences of their foolishness. Today, we have an Ipob insurgency that was ignited by 2015 politics and whose fire is still raging while Buhari and Jonathan wine and dine in Aso Villa.

Any attempt at political neutrality is political hypocrisy in disguise. Let’s waive all pretensions. If you are opposed to say the Tinubu candidacy, you are indirectly supporting the candidate who stands to benefit from your opposition to Tinubu even if you don’t profess it. Likewise, if you oppose say Osinbajo, you are indirectly supporting the candidate best positioned to benefit from that opposition. There is nothing like a political neutral Nigerian, but we can play politics with moderation, respect and decency.

Therefore, don’t allow yourself become a political cannon fodder in this war of elite interests. If there’s anything our political elites are good at, it is to compete and cooperate in the same measure. They are the first to kiss and make up after elections, leaving you with broken friendships, unmet expectations, unfulfilled promises and bitter experience. And if you do politics for a fee, like most are doing here but won’t declare, do not mortgage old friendships and your personal integrity (if there’s any left) for a mess of political pottage.

As the season of political hypocrisy begins, I remember the prayers of former US Senate chaplain Barry Black, calling on God to ‘deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.’

Ahmed Musa Husaini

Ahmed Musa Husaini is a writer, analyst and development strategist from Nigeria.