By Busuyi Mekusi
Rhetoric is part of everyday life. Words are not just for the purpose of externalising inner conceptions, as there is no way to read mind’s constructions on the face, but they are sliced and garnished for deep conveyance and solid understanding. Rhetoric, as an art, helps a writer or speaker to inform, educate, persuade or motivate specific audiences in specific situations. Beyond the far-reaching efforts made by Martianus Capella in the area of dialectic, rhetoric, as a field of study, also helps to investigate the techniques writers or users use to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences.
The foregoing similarly applies to political rhetoric that is concerned with the ways politicians try to persuade various audiences, as well as the study of same. Some Nigerian politicians have distinguished themselves in the art of public speaking, and the pragmatism of people like Zik, Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, M.K.O. Abiola, Bola Ige, Chuba Okadigbo, etc., in the public sphere was constructively manipulative.
The presidential candidate of the Nigerian ruling APC, Bola Tinubu, has, in recent times, inserted more candours to the Nigeria political discourse, after the diatribe of ‘Emilokan’ with which he vehemently negotiated the pathway to the party primary. After his Kaduna ascription of the power to make ‘rotten bad’ to El-rufai, his metaphoric and symbolical interrogative usage of the ‘rat and poisoned holy communion’ to depict the negatives of climate change during an Arewa Interactive Committee engagement in Kaduna has attracted sufficient appraisals, some positive and others scathing, including that of the ebullient Sam Omatseye, who some have accused of being a Tinubu’s dangerous stooge, not minding his brilliance.
The problem with some people like Dele Momodu who accused Tinubu of potential dictatorship is that they fail to realise that the best clothes adorned by a chameleon belong to others. A wise person is that who leverages on the high-points of others, encased in his own latent potentials. The days ahead promise enrichment of the Nigeria political space with many more rhetoric from Tinubu, as vituperations across political divides continue too.
Apart from the religious insensitivity some have accused Tinubu of the use of ‘poisoned holy communion’ mythical parable, the grimly grave sense of an endangered global space intended cannot be overemphasised. This is not also to blur the literal possibility of vulnerability even in sacred places of worship, like the pogrom and desecration that took place at Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo recently. The poisons were copiously served, and the rats’ mortality was huge and distressing!
The church mouse may no longer be poor but the people are hugely economically depressed like other Nigerians. As Asiwaju continues his journey to the ‘promised land’, like the biblical Abraham his loyalists have quoted a man of God to have christened him during the ordination of Remi, his wife, the ills of corrosion, contamination, denaturalisation and complications precipitated by industrialisation would remain huge challenges to a generation that tends to fight madness with madness, as represented by chemicalisation of humanity and advancement of human worth with technology.
Aside Tinubu’s ‘poisoned communion’ is the idea of poisoned chalice that is meant to encapsulate an assignment, award, or honour which is likely to be a source of disadvantage or problem to the beneficiary. As the political season matures towards 2023, and beyond the rhetoric of politicians, apprehensions are rife that the regular poisoned chalice of vote-buying might just be the magic wand needed to sway voters, and plague the environment in the order of the oppressive West that argues that underdeveloped and developing nations in the fringe should not set up plants and industries for the sake of environmental friendliness, after their industrialisation that would sustain Africa as a dumping ground. Incidentally, over the years, Nigeria leaders have mastered the culture of consumerism. It is not also clear how Tinubu would fully call the bluff of the West whose London’s link is a recurring decimal in his own game of medical and political survival.
Other similar poisoned chalices are found in pre-electioneering political promises made by politicians to the electorate. Some of the recurring renewed hopes are stable electricity, good roads, industrialisation, fighting corruption, curbing insecurity, etc., with the circulation by some observers of the aborted promises of the ruling party that they nicknamed: All Promises Cancelled. It is patently true that governance is not about extrapolation but effective occupation with facts and figures, most Nigeria politicians practise the model of the necessity of ‘stooping to conquer’. The need for the preservation of one’s sanctity of mind is reinforced by the amorphous fluidity that got Fani Kayode, Dino Melaye and Dele Momodu to, at the moment; gleefully but gainfully laboriously defend the party and principal they vociferously derided in the past. Nigerian politicians are same in logic and orientation, wise in their pursuit of power, while the poor electorate are consistently touchily gullible in their political exploitation and servitude.
While Tinubu was right about the vexed climatic environment that gave us the logic of the ‘rat and poisoned holy communion’, he and the other political elites should be reminded that they have severally and severely served the citizens with viaticum, at one point or another. Viaticum is the Eucharist or communion that is served to a person that is dying or in danger of death, as part of the enhancement of the desired transcendental reunification with the Maker.
The administration of viaticum on the people by politicians are due to inadequate leadership or poor governance, manifesting through: luxuriousness of political positioning as against the pauperisation of majority Nigerians; poor infrastructure in the country as against their havens and homes overseas; poor health care facilities compared to the leaders’ medical tourism; palpable insecurity as contrasted with the well-guarded havens of political leaders; emotionally traumatised dislocated citizens, compared with the factitious expensive psychological balance the leaders compulsorily procure for their survival.
Just as the selfishness of the West would make them blame uncanny rustic Africans for the disruptive and destructive activities of industrialisation on humans and the ecological space, Nigeria political elites would stop at nothing to decry the damning notion of ‘poisoned communion’ when they continue to exhibit endless predilection for harams. Haram is an Arabic term denoting ‘forbidden’. In Islamic religion and jurisprudence, harams are things that are either sacred and for which access is limited because of the need for purity in interacting with such, and an act of evil, or evil action that is forbidden. This order is akin to, and an equivalence of, the Hebrew concept of the sacred in Roman law and religion. For traditionalists, whiteness of attires and other accoutrements is the symbolism of purity of mind that is believed to be a sine qua non to access the Supreme Edumare.
With most Nigerian politicians being Islamic and Christian faithful, oath-taking through the use of the Holy Bible and Quran has been denigrated as public officials that swear to uphold transparency end up transplanting commonwealths to their private bank accounts, both at home and offshore. Their mortgage investments at home are mostly priced out of the reach of the poor, while those they own by proxy abroad are often lost to their greedy handlers.
The court judgement ordering the final forfeiture of Diezani Alison-Madueke’s houses and cars to the federal government is a fillip on the resolve of the PMB government to fight corruption, amidst the heists of crude oil and stolen allocations to road reconstruction, evidenced by collapsed portions of roads that are death-trapping unfortunate Nigerians. This is as experts warn that Nigeria may remain a poverty capital till 2050.
Majority of Nigerians that are left to contend with the many socio-political and economic contradictions in the country are emotionally volatile, disdainfully belligerent and unpleasantly pathetically obtrusive. If not, how does one explain the satanic act of a man in Imo state, who broke the arm of a two-month-old baby of his for disturbing his sleep! The amputated arm of the baby is another violent memorialisation that would hurt in future.
The PMB government was quick to dismiss the security concerns and travel advisories the United Kingdom and United States of America extended to their citizens, as the global ecological space remains poisoned, housing an endangering annihilating Nigeria environment, seemingly leaving humanity sentenced to death! The quest for respite continues, with ‘poisoned holy communion’ and chalices on display, with people being fed with viaticum while the leaders relish in and savour harams.