I faulted the declaration that the yet-to-be concluded Governorship elections in Kogi State was “between the Devil and the Satan”. It was, I observed in an interaction elsewhere, between sentiments and ignorance. Sentimental because supporters of APC, rallying around the late Prince Abubakar Audu were partisans incurably loyal to the party. Ignorant because, despite the near unanimity of our portrayals of Audu and incumbent Governor Idris Wada as uninspiring, our seeming concurrence to our political system as two-party arrangement was disquieting.
Nigeria has 25 registered political parties, and if I were resident in Kogi, it won’t kill to ally with likeminded cynics to facilitate the emergence of a powerful Third Force. It may only seem impossible because we prefer agencies of indolent and navel-gazing political standpoints. And even if, at the end of the rain, our efforts amount to a loss, history would remember us as change agents who aspired to reform. In the north, Adamawa and Nasarawa States, rejecting the traditional domination of the two leading parties as the only viable, made SDP and APGA, respectively, top contenders.
As results of the November 21 elections filtered in, with Audu coasting to victory, some of us, convinced Audu was on the way to Lugard House again, resigned to a prayer. This we considered nobler than embarking on a lifelong antagonism of his principles and declaring as already wasteful his four-year mandate.
And then the man died. It started like a cruel rumour planted in the online media by anonymous hacks to consolidate on the heaps of controversy upon which the man played his politics. It was one of the most mismanaged media crises of the APC. What’s the purpose of the Information and Publicity unit of the APC if it couldn’t rush in to clarify on high-risk reports about the party and its candidates. It’s absolutely dispiriting for a rumour of a candidate’s death to hover that long without an official statement from his party; it portrayed the party as organizationally inept.
The confirmed news of his death suddenly polarized discourse of his politics and life. It has revealed the superficial spirituality for which Nigerians are known, and over which they venerate the dead.
But we must be careful in letting our emotions edge us to rewrite history and beatify the person who, just a few days ago, we categorized as a member of the agencies that that have forestalled the growth of this country.
If, for the virtues of death, we report as heroic all the people we once blamed for our woes as a nation, what sort of books do we intend to leave behind as documents of the history of our time for the generation coming after ours?
It’s understandable to feel for the passing of Prince Abubakar Audu; it’s human. We’re all going to die, one after the other and en masse, soon or later. What is hypocritical is to suddenly attempt to reverse all the things we’ve already expressed about him and his. We should respect the dead, because they are not here to defend themselves anymore. But we also owe the generation unborn a certain debt, the debt of honesty – an accurate history.
Audu was a public figure given a mandate to manage the resources of his people, and judging that history of his stewardship isn’t the sort of private existence that the most spiritual of us wish to censor. This was a politician who spent a season of his life after office in courtrooms proving that he did not mismanage resources under his watch. Whether he succeeded in proving himself innocent and convincing us that he’s innocent of all charges of corruption against him is a matter for our history, and a burden of our memories.
It’s not those who still discuss the politics of Audu that are spiteful. It’s those small minds that rush to say that his death is a divine intervention, that God saved Kogi from the return of a thieving man. We must de-indoctrinate ourselves of this perception of death as a punishment. Death is the final phase of every human being. It’s not an atonement for any sin. It’s both a biological and spiritual reality of our existence.
Longevity, also, isn’t a proof of any righteous life; it’s just a mystery too complex to grasp. Some of the most virtuous people in the eyes of the world died young, hence the flawed axiom, “The good die young!”
The bad too die young!
Our motivation, as we reflect on the elapsed time of both the known and the unknown should be a prayer that none of us departs this life smeared with unchallenged accusations of complicity in the ruins of the humanity we were created to redeem and preserve. May God save us from us!
By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda On Twitter