Opinion

Beyond the politics of endorsement 

By Promise Adiele

The innocuous word ‘endorsement’ presently enjoys celebrity status in Nigerian politics. ‘Endorsement’, hitherto prevalent in the register of advertisement where persons of appreciable popularity approve of a product, has surreptitiously crept into Nigeria’s political lexicon. Unlike in advertisement where ‘endorsement’ maintains an unruffled facade, its identity in politics connotes blessing and support, but sometimes betrayal, deceit, and a tragic presage. While in advertisement ‘endorsement’ simply means approval, in politics, it maintains a positive affirmation but also adorns a sinister complexion. When in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Decius, one of the conspirators came to cajole Caesar to the Capitol, he preyed on Caesar’s longing for flattering by informing him that the Senators had endorsed him to be crowned the same day. That was a lie. The Senators who purportedly endorsed Caesar were vicious conspirators that eventually murdered him in the most barbaric manner. A misplaced, irrational political endorsement can, in all its gratifying potential, lead to tragic consequences, especially for those intoxicated with the lure of power. Caesar believed the deceit of endorsement, ignored his wife’s warnings and the entire soothsayer’s prognosis about the Ides of March. He met his waterloo. 

Nigeria’s political canvas is never short of inscrutable, recondite preoccupation which challenges the people’s claim to intelligence and independence. The originators of these preoccupations summarily mystify the entire process to satisfy a yawning, inordinate appetite. They do not care for a second if they look stupid as long as they mislead the people, violate public peace, and cause confusion in the body politic. According to Nigeria’s political jobbers, the air we breathe must be politicised. The flight of birds in the air must be given political interpretation. Arsenal vs Chelsea must be analysed and understood along the lines of Nigerian politics. The taste of bitter kola against the sound of it in the mouth must certainly not escape Nigeria’s political exegeses. All of these must in one way or another provide a peep into how the people will vote as if the electorate are zombies from another planet. 

The newfound love for political jobbers in Nigeria now is the politics of endorsement. I have been intrigued to no end as to how Nigeria’s current political discourse has recently centred on the endorsement of various political office seekers, especially presidential candidates. From the North to the South, East to the West, the current political champion right now is an endorsement. It appears anyone endorsed by any group in the country has won the election rendering the efforts and posturing of the electorate inconsequential. In 2015, Nigerians endorsed the current government and did so again in 2019. Towards the 2023 elections, Nigerians must be wary not to redefine endorsement as a systemic enthronement of handicapped leadership which inevitably leads to the imposition of hardship and suffering. It is obvious that the collective endorsements of 2015 and 2019 were huge mistakes but the continuous pleading of ‘it is well’ in the face of harsh living conditions has proved to be a genuine extenuating gesture.  Now, it is time to set aside the “it is well” cold refrain – that unction of uncommon hypnosis fawned by the timid and their defeated consciences. It cannot be well when people consciously endorse a pathetic candidate in an election. 

With endorsement dominating Nigeria’s political discourse, one’s intellect is inundated by different ideological pressures to rationalise what seems an odious reality. But rationalization must be informed by reason to save one from sliding into mental abstraction. Let’s face the truth – in real politics, the ultimate endorsers are the people, the electorate with valid voter cards to do the needful. It is laughable, in fact, ridiculous that Nigerians should worry about what group has endorsed a candidate and what other group has not endorsed another candidate. I am aware of the influence groups and sundry elements can wield in politics when they privately endorse a candidate. But that is applicable under normal circumstances. The Nigerian circumstance is not normal therefore, endorsement of any kind has lost all the glory and relevance associated with modern-day politicking. In Nigeria today, those who endorse privately belong to the upper-class echelon and therefore are immune from the harsh socio-economic realities in the country. 

Look at Ohaneze, Afenifere, Arewa, and other notable groups across the country. Their chairmen and spokespersons wine and dine with the high and mighty, they are big men and women all of them. It is therefore an existential delusion to imagine that these people, by their private endorsement of any candidate speak for the impoverished, hunger-ravaged masses. Some of these people promoting endorsement as if it is the real election conceive Nigerians as idiots. Well, I believe Nigerians are not stupid or are they? Political office seekers in Nigeria now, especially the presidential candidates should be circumspect about those they visit for endorsement. Julius Caesar was endorsed by the Senators to be crowned but it was a different type of endorsement. Macbeth was endorsed by the witches to become a king but was afflicted with a morbid desire for power which led to his downfall. Endorsement seekers beware. This warning does not require any mental elaboration, it is simple and straight to the point. 

There is an emergency in Nigeria under the APC-led administration. Every right-thinking person is aware of this reality. The real endorsement will be done at the polls next year and it will be carried out by the victims of serial economic plundering, insecurity, inflation, corruption, non-existing Medicare and a somnolent educational system. Towards the 2023 elections, I am a bit worried that of Nigeria’s estimated population of 200 million people, less than 100 million people registered to vote. In Brazil during the just concluded general elections, 154.4 million voters participated out of a population of 214 million people. In the 2018 elections in that country, 147 million people voted. In Nigeria, less than 100 million people do not represent the suffering, vanquished masses. Everyone registered to vote should be ready to participate in the elections in Nigeria. Effective, valid endorsement is carried out by the direct recipients of government policies and not by those whose bread is buttered irrespective of the character in power. 

The all-important question is – when Nigerians go to the polls next year, what will they be endorsing? Will they endorse a fraudulent change mantra conceived and packaged in 2015 which has led Nigerians to the precipice? Indeed, will Nigerians be endorsing broken promises which have destroyed the family unit due to the high cost of living? While at endorsement, Nigerians must remember that a bag of rice now costs N45,000 and the price per litre of petrol is N200. All Nigerian public university lecturers and students must surely have something to endorse. Nigerians should decide whether to endorse the monumental stealing of their crude oil through which the country bleeds excessively. Till today, no one has been arrested. Life goes on. Certainly, Nigerians must decide whether to endorse backwardness, polarized polity, expensive cost of governance, broad daylight robbery by former governors in the guise of pensions and other entrenched absurdities. Please, kindly decide whether to endorse Aso Rock as a convalescent home for old, infirm people who should be recuperating and enjoying their retirement. 

At this time, Nigerians must decide what they want. Brazil just endorsed a new beginning by voting out an anti-people, corrupt, wasteful government. Indeed, the supreme endorsement resides with the people. The Nigerian political endorsement resides with Nigerians and not some bourgeois, aristocratic class that is not affected by the vagaries of government policies. Will Nigerians, in all their glory and famed sophistication endorse candidates with fraudulent academic records, indeterminate age, mysterious genealogy, uncertain health conditions, and a damning verdict by former President Obasanjo and another elder statesman Bode George – those who know better. It is only a tragic generation that will endorse affliction for the third time. Let 2023 come quickly. Authentic endorsement beckons. 

Promise Adiele PhD teaches at Mountain Top University. He can be reached at Promee01@yahoo.com Twitter: @Drpee4 

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