By Frank Opara
There is an existing rattling perception by the majority of the white locals in the beautiful city of Manchester, England. It is the fact that an average black guy in the city must be an Arsenal supporter. Don’t ask me how they came about this notion.
I walked into an all-white pub to watch a Premier League match involving City (as Manchester City F.C is known in Manchester) and Aston Villa, a while ago when suddenly, before I could request for my drink, a certain white local, holding a frothy glass of beer, who never knew me from Adam, supposedly surprised at my presence, walked up to me and reminded me wryly that the game had nothing to do with Arsenal. ‘I’m here to watch football, mate.’ I responded, bristly.
Recently, I found myself in a similar situation with the present political scenario playing out like an allegorical dance of death. I am sneezing my brains out to know why an average Nigerian sees every Igbo person as a supporter of Jonathan, with the silly tag, ‘Jonathanian.’
A couple of weeks back, I was chatting with a female friend who happens to be an unwavering supporter of Buhari, a ‘Buharian’, so to speak. And before I could say ‘Jack’, she branded me a ‘Jonathanian’. There is nothing wrong with that anyway, because I could’ve said I support Jonathan. If it hurts you, drink some water.
But I begged to disagree with her anyway because, I know deep down I am not happy with President Jonathan, and so he Jonathan for now cannot lay claim to my support; neither is his rival, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the APC. I am aware both of them badly need my vote.
It would have been easy for me to support President Jonathan without much contemplation, had he not floundered with the issue of Chibok girls. I have tried hard not to put myself in the shoes of the parents and guardians of those abducted girls because of the expected excruciating anguish.
Do I then support support Gen. Buhari? Not really, because he was once a dictator whom I was once a victim of in Lagos during the notorious War Against Indiscipline (W.A.I.). I equally refuse to be bought by the ‘integrity’ claptrap that has become the rallying cry of his teeming supporters.
Rather, I am so scared by the character of the people around him. The questionable characters that have suddenly become the avant-garde of their people, and who are seemingly bankrolling the massive campaign budget of the alleged impecunious retired general.
And how can we forget the claim by Pastor Tunde Bakare who was Gen. Buhari’s running mate in the last presidential election. Recently, on national television he told Nigerians how he was compelled to sign a prepared letter that would have forced him to ‘step aside’ for the position of the vice president for one of the prominent member of the party if they won the election.
My centrist attitude has afforded me the opportunity to observe the ongoing political situation from a detached and unbiased position. From this neutral point of view, one can easily see things from the objective perspective; distinguish the bigots from the liberals, the conspiratorial from the forthright, the denominational from the disinterested and finally the foolish from the responsible.
I am completely in awe about the madness represented in people’s remarks, opinions and comments especially by some established social media influencers and journalists. I’m beginning to question their so-called integrity. Truly, this period provides a real test of character for all of us.
The irony is that supporters of both parties are all guilty of the sins they accuse each other. Nobody seems to align with the biblical injunction, ‘… why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considered not the beam that is in thine own eye.’
Before now, there was one garrulous Alhaji Lai Mohammed of the APC. He is usually heard before he is seen (apologies to Salisu Suleiman). He verbally attacks anything PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Today, the PDP seems to have brought his match. His name is Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, FFK for short. He is giving the opposition a run for their money. His diction and eloquence accentuates whatever statement, call it aspersion or fabrication he throws at the opposition in defense of his party. From all indications, he seems to know how to play this ‘dirty’ game of mud-slinging. And it has earned him all manner of unwholesome acronyms.
I do not see much difference in the inflammatory public statements, and sometimes disrespectful remarks to the office of the president by Governor Amaechi of Rivers State and the constant diatribe and vituperations of his counterpart, Governor Fayose of Ekiti State against APC presidential candidate. Neither has proved to be more civil than the other.
A few weeks ago, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the running mate to Gen. Buhari, the Presidential candidate for APC, had a town hall meeting with the youth in Lagos. That event was regarded as commendable. President Jonathan had a similar meeting with selected youth in the same Lagos last week, and it was described as unnecessary and a waste of public fund.
At present, the whole political atmosphere has the ambience of hypocrisy. The holier-than-thou postulation of both party spokesmen is nothing but nauseating. Our sense of judgment has been distorted by tribal and religious sentiments.
We are a few weeks to the elections. How much have we critiqued from the lens of fairness? How much have we been reminded by our instincts that goose and gander are still the same in our sense of judgment? Remember, there’s life after election.
I can’t wait for it to come and go so that sanity will once again be restored.
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