By Taoheed Ajao
In its original context, Theatre of the Absurd refers to a literary movement in drama popular throughout European countries after World War II. The term was coined by critic, Martin Esslin, in his 1960 essay of the same title that gave artistic meaning to Albert Camus philosophy that life is inherently, without meaning by attacking the “comfortable certainties of religious, social and political orthodoxy.”
In the same way that the Theatre of the Absurd among existentialists promotes the idea of human existence and freedom as being of more fundamental importance to the individual than essence and rationality in an unfathomable world, Politics in Nigeria, is being promoted to be beneficial only in the realm of the individual, having been abstracted from service to the people and gradually dissevered from its linkages to occupational honour and nobility. It is thereby, rendered as a nonsensical, chaotic and ultimately, meaningless endeavour!
In the political realm in Nigeria, almost anything goes; virtually any method can be applied to reach a goal and no institution or organ of government is immune from the corrosive effect of politics. Apart from there being no ideological differentiations among the political parties, the political class in Nigeria represents virtually a determinate number of people say about a million or so party faithful who crisscross the parties at convenient times to seek brighter political fortunes. The rest of the electorates are the voting public sometimes apathetic, oftentimes conniving with the political class who the politicians are able to convince and entice with more than word of mouth. It therefore, occasions no surprise that loyalty or fidelity to causes is rare among most politicians. Let’s take a cursory look at current happenings in the political arena.
According to former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, he was just sitting “jejely” in his house when the PDP governors and some others came to drag him to be the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP sometime early this year. He was reluctant he said, even though subsequent events later showed how he must have welcomed being exhumed from the catacombs of the politically dead by this unreflective invitation of the PDP. He was briefed in unmistakable terms on how his national chairmanship was to be of an interim nature: till a PDP Convention could be planned to elect a Chairman that will give acceptance to the political correctness of the 2019 strategy of fielding a Northern presidential candidate and a Southern party chairman.
Rather than for this plan to be adhered to according to the aforementioned strategy, a shadowy figure approached Justice Ibrahim Buba, of the Lagos Division of the High Court, to obtain an order on the 12th of May, 2016, forbidding the PDP from removing the National Chairman, National Secretary and National Auditor during the then proposed Convention planned for the 20th of May, 2016 in Port Harcourt. The National Convention went on in Port Harcourt as earlier planned but, in deference to the Justice Buba ruling of the 12th of May, the convention only elected a National Caretaker Committee to be headed by former Kaduna State governor and Senator, Ahmed Makarfi and avoided filling the contentious positions. To give legality to their action, the NCC, National Caretaker Committee, got a recognition and validation of the non-elective convention earlier held because the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, gave a stamp of legitimacy to the 20th of May, 2016, Convention on the 4th July, 2016.
Since it is trite in law that a court judgment supersedes any interlocutory injunction or Ex-parte Order and, since there was no appeal of the Port Harcourt judgment, it was strange when another Justice of coordinate jurisdiction, Okon Abang of the Abuja High Court gave an order stopping the PDP’s planned National Convention in Port Harcourt and reaffirmed Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the authentic chairman of the PDP. This is in contradistinction to an earlier High Court judgment that invalidated Sheriff’s claim to the chairmanship on the basis of the nullification to the purported amendment of the PDP provisions that brought him in: Article 47 (6) of the party’s 2012 constitution!
Again on 15th of August 2016, Justice Ibrahim Watila, ruling on a motion on notice filed by the Secretary of the PDP National Convention Planning Committee, Senator Ben Obi, not only validated the holding of the said convention but also, urged INEC & the Police to provide security and observation. The next day, Justice Okon Abang of Abuja ruled that the Makarfi-led committee was illegal and that the proposed convention slated for 17th of August, 2016 in Port Harcourt, could not hold. The theatre of the Absurd in PDP drew the last curtain where, in obedience to an inferior order given by a court of coordinate jurisdiction, the Police and other security personnel blocked the venue of the convention and disallowed it from taking place!
The All Peoples Congress, APC, at the national level has a surfeit of absurdities to fill an encyclopedia but, suffice to limit this piece to the homegrown eccentricities and absurdities of its more than 50 gubernatorial wannabes. Pretending as if they all inhabited a political world where all Animals are equal, about 20 of these candidates had purchased the more than 5 million naira nomination forms and had hoped that a strictly democratic process would throw up a winner for the much coveted ticket. At the whiff of the rumour of a preferred candidate by the Pontifex Maximus at least in this part of the country they had all ganged up to confront the Lion of Bourdillon in his very den. They sidelined or rendered inactive some will say removed Barrister Isaac Kekemeke, wily war-horse and survivor of the Agagu-era politics and frontally engaged their chairman in a test of will.
This development has led to a redoubled determination by most candidates not to fall prey either to the financial inducements of delegates or the political shenanigans orchestrated by the leader or leaders through any proxies in Ondo State. All of a sudden, to be an APC delegate has become a most rewarding enterprise what, with the promise of outlandishly handsome sums of money to be given to each candidate in this very austere time. This has again heightened anxieties in the party and forced postponement of the APC primary election two times! Though intended to be frightening, another comical dimension was added to the APC’s problems on the conduction of the primaries by sealing off the state party secretariat by items supposed to be charms possessed of both diabolical and magical powers.
As these were going on in Akure, a dissident faction of PDP was conducting an illegal primary under the Ali Modu Sheriff’s nullified chairmanship in far away Ibadan! Perennial gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State since 2003 and business man turned political distraction, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, won in a landslide by more than 500 to Chief Sola Ebiseni’s 41 votes! The terms of the withdrawal of the other candidates are still shrouded in secrecy but, the word out there is that a group of people are not smiling after the deal!