NIGERIA AND THE POLITICS OF IRRATIONALITY


By Akin Ojumu

Facts aren’t useless, they are the foundation of rational thoughts. Tragically, many Nigerians are completely oblivious to this rather simple notion, including, even, supposedly highly educated dons of the Ivory towers whose coin of the realm are facts. In Nigeria's political minefield that is heavily impregnated with the politics of rabid sectionalism and self-centered irrationality, fact is an illegal alien.

In Nigeria, political discourse is mostly a tiring exercise in nonsensical filibustering and a painful endeavor in imbecilic bloviating. Political affiliation in Nigeria is fact-free, it runs on the adulterated fuel of emotions, it’s propelled by the knocked engine of ethnic sentiments, and it rumbles along on the dusty potholed tracks of religious fanaticism.

The greatest danger a large swathe of the Nigerian electorate faces when choosing which political candidate to support isn’t that they aim too high, and they miss it. The real menace is that they aim so low that they hit bullseyes at first try. Because the decision of which candidate to support isn’t informed by facts, Nigerians always pick the most befitting people – their own kind – to lead them. And, of course, they consistently choose the most unfit, two-bit, crummy, bottom of the barrel, below par, second-rate, not up to snuff, low hanging fruits. Since Nigerians don’t employ sound reasoning in electing their leaders, they always settle for the very worst of the rotten bunch.

Yet, to the vast majority of Nigerians, a fact-minded person, who engages his thinking faculty when it comes to deciding political affiliation and supporting political candidates, is considered ignorant about local political affairs and seen as clueless about what’s important to the people. Those few Nigerians who still care about facts, and who see value in figures, are often subjects of great derision and targets of cruel ridicule. Since all politics are local, the thinking goes, a fact-obsessed person will never understand the irrational choice of fact-free local people because the fact-loving person isn’t on the ground to feel the pulse of the locals on the ground. Never mind that this fact-less politics have gotten them nowhere so far, and its only accomplishment is the perpetual production of fatuous leadership which in turn culminates in their miserable existence.

In no other country, where facts and figures actually matter to the electorate, will recycled old wrecks like Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar emerge as the leading candidates in a presidential election. The fact that Yinka Osinbajo – a man who consistently displayed exemplary competence in handling the affairs of the nation in the few times he has acted as President in the absence of his sickly principal – came a distant third in the APC presidential primary behind an unsavory character like Rotimi Amaechi is a vivid illustration of the clueless irrationality of the Nigerian electorates.

You know Nigerians are fact-free ignoramuses on a suicide mission of self-immolation when a man like Peter Obi, with a proven track record of good governance, is considered too stingy to become the president of the Federal of Nigeria. There’s no other word to use to describe Nigerians other than thoughtless morons, if Kingsley Moghalu, a vibrant young man who has shown a rare depth of seriousness, considerable thoughtfulness, and seasoned intellectual gravitas, could lose his primary election to an unknown candidate with no manifesto.

No nation picks its leaders on the account of irrational sentiments unencumbered by substance. In no country does transformative leadership emerge by mere happenstance. Politically astute electorates will always produce an intellectually equipped political leadership that is acutely attuned to the needs and aspirations of the electorate. Good leaders rise to the fore only when the electorate dig down into the recesses of their minds and interrogate their brain.

Until and unless the Nigerian voting public learns to put on their thinking cap, engage their minds, and task their brain, the cap of leadership will continue to elude those to whom the cap really fits.

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