In dealing with the political transformations and journey, we must not forget some statements, slogans, and quotes that shaped the present political landscape. One of those quotes that are very relevant to today’s situation is “No permanent enemy, no permanent friend but permanent interest”. This slogan has permeated the psyche of most politicians who now change like chameleons and without personal principles or party ideology. One wonders where the slogan got its origin as it has succeeded in corrupting the definition of politics and democracy in the minds of the greatest number of Nigerians who now see politics as a curse, a channel through which one can reach the national treasury is termed “national cake” to take their share. This is the wicked and most vicious thing leaders of a country can do to their nation. For what purpose was this unwritten and unauthorized postulation instituted in the subconscious of most Nigerians? To the best of the author’s knowledge, this slogan is never found in the holy book, never found in the postulations or quotes of Karl Marx, or Nelson Mandela, neither found in the political science nor the Nigerian Constitution or any electoral law. What we now have is the winner take all syndrome that has pushed ideology to the dustbin.
In the early sixties as a student activist, I was asked many questions before I became a student member of the youth wing of the Action group. It was also the same process when I tried to join African National Congress (ANC) because I was then able to relate more to socialism in democracy and liberalism. When Nelson Mandela was arrested and accused of terrorism for fighting for the emancipation of his people, I followed his trial and as such, he became my mentor, when Che-Guevera joined hands with Fidel Castro for the liberation of some South American countries and got killed in the process of the struggle for the liberation of the weak, he also became my idol, there was also Obafemi Awolowo described as the best president the country never had according to Odumegwu Ojukwu. Then Chief Obafemi stayed in opposition for a good part of his life. Even though he was jailed but he stood his ground but was later brought out of prison by Gen. Yakubu Gowon and later became like the vice president and that didn’t change him. There were also the likes of Alhaji Aminu Kano and J.S Tarka that also stood their political grounds in opposition in the north that despite being brought into Government as ministers never changed their opposition because of their political ideology.
Somehow, attempts were made to dilute the ideologies of Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kanu, and J.S Tarka but those that succeeded them found themselves capitulated and that was the birth of the one-party system that we are witnessing today. There was a bit of fresh air when the late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim gave us a different Slogan, “Politics without Bitterness”. This is the best time for us to remember that the Alhaji was a Kanuri man from the present Borno State. He was the founder of the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP). He participated in the 1979 presidential election. According to him, when a politician forms or joins politics, He is doing it with the aim to deliver a message through a campaign and either win or lose in good faith.
Politics without bitterness, therefore, was the late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim’s idea that you are not just to win in political competition all the time. People insist on winning after putting in their resources and at the end of the day when they lose they get disappointed. He said politics is just like a race in the Olympics where you get a gold, you get a bronze, or silver and be satisfied even if you don’t win, the fact that you are in the competition should be satisfying. He said as the loser, you look up to the person that won not as an enemy but as the lucky person who is saddled with the responsibility of leading the nation or the area where the pool was conducted. If you meet the person who won, shake his hands, and laugh about it as life is a game. My question, therefore, has been what happened to formidable oppositions of the likes of Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, Alhaji Aminu Kano, and J.S Tarka. They were the ones that gave the conservative leadership of the North a solid opposition. But those that came after them capitulated moving from one party to the other and now making the country look like practicing a one-party system.
There have been some attempts made to change the narratives but were soon to fall apart like NADECO, the then Nigerian Medical Association led by Beko Ramson Kuti. Even his brother becoming a minister did not change his position as a political activist that he was. Then there was the Nigerian Bar Association, the Students Unions, and the Trade Union Movement that provided a solid opposition to different Regimes.
The sacrifice the leaders of the past made have been in vain, most of them got arrested and detained and imprisoned, some got killed, and somewere maimed for life, as was the case against those that organized the END SARS movement. There must be no more bloodshed hence the title of the article “IF YOU CAN NOT BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM”.But today we have the bloodshed, we have political radicalism, we have jumping ships, and we have the rush part of the Cake sharing.
Those politicians of the past provided the politicians of today a platform and foundation for building political associations which would have become the present generation’s dream of having political parties founded on either socialism, conservatism, or liberalism.
The politics of yesterday must return for the good of the present and coming generation. It was the politics of yesterday that shaped the ideology and produced the likes of some Nigerians in the diaspora that are now occupying political positions in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the Americans. You only know them as Nigerians by the name they carry.