Nigeria’s ‘Soap Opera’ politics

By Davey Ozurumba


A soap opera is a radio or television serial drama which focuses on internal issues of the society rather humourously and dispassionately.

This soap opera dimension is one aspect of Nigeria leaders’ democratization of politics, where, – what should one say? – the excitement of politics gets into their veins; they know how to be factual, but seldom shrink behind it. Just as William Barrett says in his ‘Immortal Man’, “all the politics-as-usual of today seems so terribly antiquated, it lays so badly behind the actual situations of man, and behind even our present knowledge of man”.

To illustrate this phenomenon more, let’s consider the Igbo phrase, “Chibo, Anuozo”, a fitting soap opera of sort that excited millions of listeners of Imo Broadcasting Corporation (radio and television) a long while ago. Now rested, somewhat, the play had a tremendous audience when it was aired because its audience drew inspiration from it.

Its English translation (‘daybreak, another gist) means the portrayal of the lifestyle of the people through symbols. Call it a satire on the events in the society.

Such allegories abound in Igbo Folk tales, just like saying that “a rat should not knowingly bite the bag of a native doctor, and the native doctor should not, in like manner singe the mouth of the rat”.

This explains the crudity in playing pranks on sensitive issues or with serious-minded people.

A short while ago, Nigeria witnessed another melodrama at the Independent National Electoral Commission Headquarters in Abuja, following the retirement of the proud academic, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on completion of his five-year tenure in office as chairman of the commission.

It would be recalled that at a hand-over ceremony, the retiring chairman handed over the baton to a commissioner, Ambassador Mohammed Wali, as his successor. Wali, it is said, is due to retire next month, August.

Surprisingly, the somewhat brash intervention of pussy-footing President Muhammadu Buhari by brushing aside Jega’s nominee as acting chairman to hold the forte until a substantive chairman was appointed, by appointing a woman (a few hours after Jega’s action), Hajiya Amina Zakari as Acting Chairman, INEC. Her tenure was to end this July in office; this action raised eyebrows. Was the president not aware of this or was he flying a kite by putting forward a woman whose appointment would generate furore, so that he would use that measure to determine his future appointments?

Nobody can read the mind of the retired General, the mind being the most capricious of insets-flitting, fluttering!

While the people who were put in that melee were trying to sort themselves out, news (sorry, rumour) flew out that Boko Haram detainees, scores of them, had been ferried from the terror-ridden North-east to the South-East zone of Anambra in a comparatively placid town of Ekwulobia, Aguata local government area. Haba!

The protagonists and antagonists pitched their camps in the INEC. Chairmanship debate. Some said Hajiya Amina Bala Zakari, a retired justice comes from the same geo-political zone with the president as well as a neigbouring state, both states were carried out from old Kano State – Katsina in 1987, Jigawa in 1991.

They also alleged that Amina, as commissioner in INEC, showed her bias in favour of the now ruling All Progressives Congress at the last general elections. True or false, that has been drowned in history.

On the flip side of this discourse, the protagonists argued that PMB in taking the action of choosing Amina expressed his commitment to affirmative action in respect of gender equality!

They recalled similar fiats thrown into the appointments of Philip Umeadi (Jnr), Prince Sol;omon Soyhebi, and Prof. Maurice Iwu, before Jega, was appointed.

Well, back to Anambra State now seething with discontent over the presence of Boko Harm detainees in Ekwulobis Prisons. Not that the serene locale of Ekwulobi has been enveloped by high risk elements, but the reason behind the prisons authority’s choice of Anambra State, a one-time cauldron of political fisticuffs.

Although the Nigerian Prisons Service had denied the presence of Boko Haram detainees in Anambra, that states governor, Chief Willie Obiano’s meeting with a seven-man delegation from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has proved them wrong. Government official’s first reaction to such allegations have already been on the negative in other to protect their jobs.

Governor Obiano’s statement after the meeting confirmed the story whirling around that Boko Haram detainees were in fact at Ekwulobia Prisons, and that he had secured a firm assurance that they would soon be moved out of Anambra State.

Indeed, Chibuo, anuozo! Wonders shall never end. Saint Augustine was once quoted as saying, “let them wrangle, I will wonder”.The world will never starve for want of wonders. Remember President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He is the longest serving president in Africa, a man who rode to power on the crest of socialist disposition, but turned turtle with the juicy side of office.

Reports have it that the 95-year- old dictator of a ruined country, has lent his voice to the raging babble over the issue of same-sex marriage commonly known as homosexuality.

But the old fox’s contribution to the global condemnation of the whirlwind virus that has eaten into the fabric of American society is one of a mockery. Piqued at the US courts’ acquiescence of homosexual practice in marriage, Mugabe turned his attention to President Barak Obama.

He mockingly said, since Obama has allowed such perversion in his country, he (Mugabe) would propose marriage to him, being a fellow African (Obama is an African in a patrilinial society), and in tune with a situation he has endorsed!

Both mockery and anger wrapped in what looks like a melodrama.

Indeed, Chibuo, anuozo!

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