BY PROFESSOR MOSES OCHONU
There is no theory of politics that survives Nigeria’s tumultuous political arena. Nigerian politics is a graveyard of political theories. Nigeria throws up political scenarios that constantly confound assumptions and postulations that seem to perfectly explain political choices and behaviors.
Just when you think you have the political terrain figured out and have come up with a formula for making sense of the vagaries of Nigerian politics, you’re stumped when a new political paradigm emerges from a corner of the country to put you and your theory to shame.
When my friend Pius Adesanmi was waxing all theoretical about political choices in Nigeria being between bad and less bad, I sat in one corner grinning. To be sure, his theory seemed to explain the odious choices confronting Nigerians in several constituencies; in fact I was compelled, on a few occasions, to deploy variants of this theory of choosing between bad and less bad as I sought to make sense of certain depressing political options confronting us.
What I didn’t tell Pius is that no theory can survive Nigeria’s fast evolving descent from bad to worse and from worse to worst. Nigeria is so dynamically fluid in its penchant for surpassing its own negative political milestones that as soon as you settle on a formula for explaining its politics you encounter a situation that doesn’t quite fit your cocksure explanation.
I am, of course, talking about the choice confronting the good people of Kogi, Pius’s home state. This is a longwinded way to say to Pius: there goes your theory of bad and less bad! One election, in your own state no less, has exploded a theory so painstakingly thought out it seemed like oracular wisdom.
Sorry, but the choice between Audu and Wada is not a choice between bad and less bad. It is a choice between bad and more bad, between the same level of badness, between fire and boiling oil. There is no “less bad” among the choices on offer. But take heart, Pius. This is just one election, which by itself does not entirely invalidate your theory, and as a fellow academic, I know that the real world always intrudes on our theories. Besides, there is always room for re-theorization.