Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Doubt... and a Benefit

The Expression of a Doubt

I am no student of politics - never have been; have no intention to. There is just something about getting those votes "whatever it takes" that puts me off in a not-very-pleasant way. It's not that it is hard to put my finger on it, it is just that the choice of putting it into words is a whole different ball game. Perhaps it's the part where you get to tell the people anything that they need to hear except "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" in order to get their votes.

Promises and Politics
Yes. Perhaps that's it - never being able to tell the whole truth because people might see it wrongly. That's the first thing that gets me about politics. The other part of it is the mudslinging and constant scrutiny of every little detail of an individual's life. Don't get me wrong; I believe that "the people deserve to know." But what exactly do they "deserve" to know? And doesn't the subject in question deserve a measure of privacy?

I could go off on that tangent for ages and get nowhere. And that's the unpleasant thing about politics - nobody is wrong and nobody is right; everything is just grey areas and whatever kind of spin you can put on it. "Perception management", as some may call it; "smart PR", according to others. "Lies", according to me. It's what drives me away from politics. Everybody has a skeleton in their closet, and if you dig hard enough you will find it. It's the bane of leadership; the scourge of public life. No, not the skeletons in the closet, nor the finding it, but actually what people choose to do with those skeletons ones they are found. More often than not they throw that news in the papers and publicize it, potentially destroying the public figure in question. The alternative is no better, which typically involves taking the ill-news to it's subject and threatening them with exposure unless they step down out of the race for the public office they are after, or resign from the office they hold, or bend to do the will of the person who holds such terrible information over their heads.

Africa and Political Violence

Blackmail - that's what it is. I don't know what other word there is for what I just described even though I am sure there are several. It's blackmail.

So, people who hold public office tend to be open to blackmail one way or another... because everybody has skeletons in their closets, and someday someone will find it; and on that day it will not matter if whatever they did was motivated by malice or good intentions, or just good ol' plain error, once the deed is brought to light, it could be the doom of such a leader. As such, many people going into politics do so prepared to protect their "good name" at just about any cost - the "good name" in inverted commas because the name isn't necessarily good to begin with. So these folks fight tooth and nail and often kill one another in order to be able to hold public office...

Again I could go on, but this is not about the politicians. Oh, not at all! This is about the people who allow - no, empower - such to happen. Yes, it's all about the people. They are the ones who really apply the pressure on the person in office to make whatever choices that they do make. Isn't that obvious?

See, that's politics right there. I get into office because people believe I am capable of doing something that favors them while I'm in there so they voted for me. Now I want those votes in order to extend my stay in that office so the people must never know that I farted in my bedroom; that I had an altercation with my wife; that I once got upset and slapped a lady who kicked me in the gonads; or that once upon a time I left my husband and married another. So because I think they will treat me different if they know... Well, we know the rest of that sordid line of thought.

It's because the people are so fickle, so easy to manipulate with figments of the truth and all kinds of lies in bundles; it is because the people always forget all too easily and too often leave their thinking for the pages of the dailies to do for them. So, someone writes in the papers today that I once laid off half a dozen employees to save my company and they can spin me into a money grabbing bigot. Or someone gets wind that I had sex with two different women back when I was in the university and I can be painted as a lifelong cheat who cares nothing for the people I am leading.
I am not saying that any of these things are right - they are not. To make matters worse, these are jokes compared to things a lot of politicians do which never get into the limelight - things like having political rivals assassinated; killing innocent people to make more money (o so common in Nigeria at the very least); bribing, threatening, or blackmailing the press; destroying whole companies in order to make some serious money; money laundering to hide ill-gotten gains; and God alone knows what else. What's the big news in Nigeria right now - billions of dollars usurped by holders of public offices at the highest levels in the past administration? Totally unacceptable, that's what it is. All of it, totally unacceptable.

That's what politics is. So, no. I do not endorse what politicians do to keep their secrets secret. However I have more of a problem with the press that spins a simple story into a web of lies..., sensationalizing a story for headlines because they don't have anything else to say. I have a problem with mudslinging a public officer simply because we don't like one thing or the other about them. Most of all, I have a problem with nitpicking a man's actions while he's in office instead of giving him all the support he needs to get the job done!

Why do politicians do this, one might ask. I have born witness to some of the worst of it. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton was compelled to perjure himself when the Monica Lewinsky thing came up, almost got impeached despite being the best president the United States has had this side of the Cold War, and that's saying something when you throw in names like George Bush, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama - the results totally speak for themselves.
Bill Clinton
Monica Lewinsky

Only recently - 2014 to be precise - the American government system was practically shut down by a Republican House because they didn't want to back a bill by the President - the merit or otherwise of the bill was never brought into question; it's value to the people never considered - they just didn't want the president to achieve anything! Then, we had the Obamacare website literally crashing on the day that it opens. How in the world does that happen to a website of the United States Government? The FBI, CIA, NASA, NSA, Justice Department, Department of State, Homeland Security... Literally everyone has websites up and running, serving the 350+ million people in the country, but all of a sudden the system is so incompetent that its website crashes on the day it is opened? Seriously, somebody did not want that initiative to fly!

Why, o why in the world do politicians do this?!

I will be the first to admit that I do not have enough information because I really know next to nothing about politics. But I do care about my people, my country. Nigeria.

Right now we have people being arrested right, left, and center across the nation for all kinds of graft related offences, and that's kind of fine; but I read this bit in the news just last night - someone asking what the government is doing with all the recovered money, and how or why the recovered money should be involved in slowing down the economy to what it has been like the past year or so. I almost blew a fuse.

Perhaps some people have not noticed it but the world is in the middle of another recession: isn't that obvious? Oil prices plunging globally to all time lows, from $150 per barrel to under $28 in less than a year; countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia getting worried about keeping up their economy; Greece bankrupt; the EU on the verge of collapsing; Chinese economic growth slowing to a crippled halt and on the verge of collapsing itself...? How did all of that turn around to become Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari's fault?

What about EVERY. OTHER. SECTOR. of the Nigerian economy that have been allowed to become defunct over the past 30 years? Mining. Agriculture. Education. Exports. Production... Even Assembly. Did the president do this? Is it possible for anyone, let alone this one man, to turn all that damage around in less than one year?

This mess stinks like the Obama situation in the United States. Clinton left the Oval Office with the greatest budget surplus the country has ever know; over 8 years George W. plunders it into the country's worst deficit ever; and then the people expected poor ol' Barack to fix the damage overnight! One question: How?

The Gift of a Benefit
See, this is the thing I have issues with in politics - shutting down a man before giving him a chance; scrutinizing his every move even before he starts doing it; expecting miracles to solve problems overnight that took half a century to develop; and quite simply second-guessing every choice made, every action taken, like pulling a seed out of the ground every five minutes to see if it has started sprouting roots! For crying out loud...!

One question: Babangida. Sonekan. Abacha. Abdulsalami. Obasanjo. Yar'Adua. Jonathan. Buhari. Did I miss anything? The past 30 years of Nigerian presidency. Has anyone ever gone this far when it comes to anti-graft initiatives? Why don't you tell me what you think, because I frankly don't know. I simply do not know enough about politics to be able to say one way or another. I do know that I am irritated by headlines in the news - both online and off - saying things like "Buhari Anti-Graft Move: Sincere, or Political Witch-hunting?" I mean, how can they say that?

I'm not saying the man has gotten everything right - why, I have my issues with him too, and a bunch of things I would have done differently. But having achieved more in his stated objectives in less than one year than some achieved in 6 years at Aso Rock, I think the man deserves a little benefit of the doubt, wouldn't you say? Just a little?

You see? That's what I hate about politics: a man with that kind of reputation should get a benefit of the doubt... At least a little.

I'm giving it to him. Are you?

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