By Promise Adiele
Isidore Okpewho’s novel The Victims conveys all the soul-wrenching, tragic trappings of conquered people under the scorching atmosphere of polygamy. It would not have mattered much if the tragedy in the novel descended on the reprobate harbingers of flame and furnace, namely – Obanua and his mother Ma Nwojide. But the knowledge that the tragic whirlwind consumed innocent children continuously pulls at the strings of the heart. Why is it that sometimes the perpetrators of tragedy are always spared while innocent people bear the brunt of truculent fate? Why should Obanua and his mother Ma Nwojide remain alive in the novel after releasing hailstones which decimate innocent children whose death breaks the barriers of our emotions? It just was not Okpewho’s creation. It is a typical reflection of Nigeria where wicked people write tragic scripts and choose innocent populace as characters. That is the story of Nigeria’s two behemoth but sullied political parties APC and PDP in their relationship with Nigerians over the last twenty-three years. The Nigerian tragedy under these two political parties has reached a crescendo and the victims – poor, helpless but determined Nigerians – are reeking of bloodied, battered, and bruised experiences in multiple agonizing shapes and conditions.
It is worth repeating (we will never get tired of saying it) that the difference between APC and PDP as political parties verges on nomenclature and origin. With the passage of time, the two parties inexorably intertwined with each other, promoting the same tragic culture which has produced many victims in the country. Besides the difference in nomenclature and origin, the two parties frolic in a fetid stream of avarice, drink from a common trough of corruption and generally glory in their discredited reputation as Siemens twins of the same pervasive heritage. For decency, let us say that both parties are two sides of the same coin intricately involved in reciprocal patronage. Never in the history of world politics had two political parties exemplified the same retrogressive, rapacious, self-serving ideology of impunity with fickle-minded, capricious characters that change base at the slightest excuse for pecuniary purposes. With an open mind devoid of bias, kindly divest yourself of all strands of prejudice, and examine Nigeria since 1999. Note the progressive descent and unbroken continuity to hopelessness orchestrated by the same debased actors who like to be called politicians. Deprived, denied and bludgeoned by the same set of people – surely Nigerians deserve better.
Certainly, one does not need to look too far to see the victims of the APC and PDP rule of conquer. To some extent, PDP in all their failings, infamy, and ignominious identity tower above APC’s death knell on Nigerians. PDP is better than APC in some ways. But the two parties are a case of the proverbial rotten palm fruit and broken, leaking mortar. Many political actors in Nigeria have crisscrossed both parties more than they can remember. Some of them straddle both parties as the procedure of day and night take turns – APC at night and PDP in the morning. Unfortunately for these APC and PDP politicians, Nigerians are aware of their antics, therefore, have risen to reject them at the polls next year. These same people should never preside over Nigerians in the manner they have done in the last twenty-three years. Although a few Nigerians are clamouring for the entrenchment of these same people in power, it is understandable that they are grovelling underlings in search of materiality and self-enrichment.
The victims of APC and PDP rule of twenty-three years are everywhere. They include all those who have lost their lives due to decayed empty hospitals lacking the minimum requisite facilities to save lives. It is easy for anyone to argue that some hospitals in the country have been upgraded to international standards by the political parties but as long as the politicians and members of their households do not use these hospitals, they are glorified clinics. Our teaching hospitals are a sorry sight. Our general hospitals are inadequate to cater for millions needing medical attention. Mothers die. Babies die. Many people die avoidable deaths. All of these people are victims of APC and PDP’s tenacious hold on power. There are more victims too. All those who died due to insecurity all over the land are victims. Families are losing breadwinners, loved ones, friends and acquaintances due to insecurity in Nigeria. Monies voted to procure equipment to fight insurgency are embezzled and shared among power hierarchies in the country. Terrorists slaughter farmers on their farms. They decimate our young soldiers like fowls and many of them quit national service for lack of motivation. They are all victims.
Victims of Nigeria’s twenty-three years of APC and PDP rule are Nigerian students who have spent many years studying four to five years courses in the university due to incessant strikes by their lecturers. The lecturers are also victims. Nigerian universities have closed down more than anyone can remember in the last twenty-three years. It was a pattern during the PDP years. When the APC came with their beguiling dissimulation, Nigerians embraced them with all pleasure but alas, it was an embrace between margarine and fire – one destroyed the other. Those who died during the Endsars protests are victims too. Someone in authority ordered soldiers to go to Lekki and shoot innocent youths protesting police brutality while waving the Nigerian national flag. Many youths were cut down in their prime and mauled to death by government bullets. They are victims. More victims are those who after many years of graduation cannot be gainfully employed because there are no jobs. The victims are Nigerian youths who, with their university degrees, migrate abroad to suffer indignation doing menial, condescending jobs as street sweepers, morgue attendants, shopkeepers, house helps, caregivers, cleaners, and taxi drivers. They are all victims of APC and PDP imperial sway.
Space constraints will hardly permit a more critical searchlight of various categories of victims in Nigeria nurtured and admitted into hopelessness by APC and PDP periods in power. The victims are growing every day as the prices of essential commodities fly beyond the reach of ordinary people. The toiling, suffering masses in Nigeria are all victims, those whose earning power can hardly sustain their families. Business persons are also victims. Many of them are grounded due to unfavourable business climates and high bank charges on loans. But like in Okpewho’s The Victims, the progenitors of these tragic conditions in Nigeria are enamoured and protected from the situations they created. They do not travel by road to experience bad roads. They and members of their families do not experience insecurity. Their children school abroad. When they manage to return home, they spend foreign currencies and not the local naira. They are not victims.
How should Nigerian victims respond next year as APC and PDP, the same traducers and executioners of the people, file out to be voted in the elections? How should Nigerians react to the same people who are the reasons they are languishing beneath the yoke of poverty and deprivation? What new things can APC and PDP offer Nigerians that they have not offered in the last twenty-three years? What aspect of Nigerian life justifies a split-second consideration of APC and PDP for the office of the President in 2023? The current APC government likes to regale Nigerians with spurious tales of infrastructural improvement because the government constructed some roads and built rails from Nigeria to the Niger Republic. How many hospitals have been upgraded to international levels in Nigeria under APC? How many of our politicians patronize these hospitals with their families? Currently Mr Mohammadu Buhari is in London for medical attention, and the APC presidential aspirant has promised to continue with the Buhari legacy. Nigerians cannot be cursed forever. Nigerians cannot remain victims forever. Insecurity, stealing, and corruption in high places will never be with Nigerians forever. The Nigerian economy cannot collapse beyond its present parlous state. What to do? Change the structure. Change the political party. Change the personnel. Move from victims to victors.
Promise Adiele PhD teaches at Mountain Top University. Promee01@yahoo.com Twitter: @Drpee4
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