“We have given politics a substantial impact on the direction of our lives. No wonder it’s so important to so many people!” shouted Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, research fellows at Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C, USA.
Powell and Burrus’s insight on politics in their discourse of September 14, 2012, with the designate – Politics Makes Us Worse – was the aftermath of my fears about politics in the 80s. They appended that political choices matter greatly to those most affected and the interest in political parties manufacture problems that never existed.
I came to understand what that meant: Our mentalities have been injured as a result of political choices. Buttressing this point, they enthused that for those who do pay attention, politics consistently leads in newspapers and on TV news and gets discussed, or shouted about, everywhere people gather; politics can weigh heavily in forging friendships, choosing enemies, and coloring who we respect.
Politics As A Dicey Affair
At our aboard in Oyigbo, Rivers State, Papa had told my younger brother, Henry, and I that there is an axiom that guides politicians: In politics, no permanent enemy or friend, but permanent interest. Incessantly, he shouted it into our ears that politics is a dicey affair.
Not minding, Henry showed interest in politics, but I never did. I hated politics following history accounts of how people kill and have been killed for politics and its offices. I detested killing and my bother never liked it, either, but he wanted to be a politician.
Powell and Burrus were worried why politics plays a major role in people’s lives with decisions by politicians determining what the people should do and should not, what the people’s children should learn in school and what they should be taught, how the people should eat and socialize, how they should even marry the people they love and sundry.
The highlight of that buttressed my worst fears which were on December 31, 1983 when many lives were lost to a coup for group mentalities, for political choices. The democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari was overthrown by Major General Muhammadu Buhari in a military coup.
The same was applicable on August 27, 1985, when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida overthrew Major General Buhari in a coup, and stayed in power until August 27, 1993.
In that coup, many lives were lost, too. As a maximum ruler, people wailed and were bullied for wailing, because of group mentalities, political choices.
Hence, there was a long struggle to attain democracy with the help of international community. When democracy was gotten in 1999, we thought that democracy would help us when a retired Army General, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was elected President Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1999.
But like the military regimes, I noticed the government sending out the Nigerian military on a largely Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa State, on November 20, 1999 and they massacred a people in a circumstance over indigenous rights to oil resources and environmental fortification.
Nigeria experienced a lot of politically motivated killings from that year to 2007. Dissenters to the views of the government were hounded and in 2016, democracy has not helped the people, either. All boils down to group mentalities, political choices.
Imprint Of Politics On People
Later, Papa told us of how politics of Nazism hypnotized Germany in the 20th Century. We read in the newspapers of how democracy and politics have made India to be on the index as the world’s largest population of poor people; oh! South Africa was ruined by apartheid of decades which was a sorry tale.
Across Asia and Africa, politics has imprint of woes in diverse places. Papa had told us that from 1974 when autocratic regimes gave way to democracy in Greece, to Spain in 1975, to Argentina in 1983, to Brazil in 1985, to Chile in 1989 and a host of others, politics has traumatized the people.
Soviet Union with a people living harmoniously was disintegrated by the politics in central Europe. My phobia heightened on noting that monarchical government was fad in the 19th Century and people fought against each other for dukedoms.
While peoples all over the world were fighting and hoped to gain in democracy, yet, nascent democracies collapsed in Germany, Spain and Italy in the first half of the 20th Century.
Politics Connects People With Woes
More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilized in one of the largest wars in history known as First World War, or the Great War, that originated in Europe and lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.
Over 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died in that politically motivated war. This number excluded victims of a number of genocides. Because of politics, came Second World War that lasted from 1939 to 1945.
It was regarded as the most widespread war in history, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. There was the Holocaust (in which roughly 11 million people were killed).
An estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities were recorded in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was the Third World War where countries in extensive divergences indirectly showed their grievances.
This was christened Cold War or the War on Terror leading to the formation of the United Nations (UN). Psychotherapists observed, ‘United Nations’ was first coined and used by the then United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
Whichever, I could not have believed much in Powell and Burrus’s pose – on how badly politics can make a people worse or influence them in a democracy till the government of General Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria came on board on May 29 2015, now as a democratically elected president.
Sharing Baked Breath In Politics
In Nigeria, the members of the two political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have shared baked breath under Buhari government except a few persons ‘sharing’ the largesse of the government.
Nigerians at large are crying wolf since the inception of this government and I will tell you how. Politics like this has made a lot of people not to vote across the countries of the world.
For instance, many young people in America do not vote during an election. This does not mean that they do not want to be heard, but, because of how the older ones have made them to feel and see a tooting gap between them.
In 1992, Mr. T.B, then a 19 year old student, refused watching the 1992 Presidential Debates because he didn’t see how that responded to the many isolations he was facing in school.
I could remember a Chris Weinkopf, associate editor of National Review, saying, “I think both of them are really just paying lip service to young people in the way they address issues.”
Weinkopf said this “when speaking about how Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are talking to young voters.” Many people believed that democracy would be the most political idea when the idea started in the 20th Century, but politics has posited itself to be afar from the people, even though that people play the politics.
In February 2014, I was astonished of how Ukraine politics was overturned by protesters, all, in a quest that there should be closer relations with the European Union (EU). The much solicited for by the protesters was for the closer relations to end Russian interference in Ukraine’s politics.
The world saw a people that took a stand against what they knew and termed “corrupt, abusive and autocratic government” of President Viktor Yanukovych. Powell and Burrus sniveled, saying that even if we try to ignore politics, it influences much of our world.
My brother is today in politics, but I’m yet to see any change that the people have made with politics, or politics has made in the people.
Just in June 2016, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, (CDHR) cried out, saying that the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government has failed Nigerians who voted for them.
Both Buhari, who was once a military dictator and his party, the APC, have been said that they displaced signs of incompetence during electioneering campaign of 2015.
I read from a source, saying, “The APC presented Nigerians with a glimpse of Eldorado even when they were aware that they lack no the capacity or intellectual ability to fulfill even 10% of their promise. To mask their disability, they shielded General Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo (his deputy) from every form of political debate. Instead, they resorted to prepare speech-making in Chatham House, London (UK), and padi-padi town hall meeting where participants, who are their party sympathizers and paid agents would discuss pre-arranged questions.”
This is my phobia about politics and the people. People hide under politics to perpetrate heinous things against the people. It is saddening that many people are committed to their different political parties for politics than they are committed to the general public. This is what psychologists have forewarned: People will grasp group mentalities for politics and will be antagonistic.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.