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Nigeria’s Politics Of Absurdism

One of the many contradictions which the Modern Period bequeathed to humanity is the concept of the absurd. After the devastation which the Second World War (1939-1945) unleashed on humanity, and before it the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the Influenza of 1918 and the economic recession of the early 1930s, the centre could no longer hold for humanity. Chaos, irrationality, bestiality, disillusionment and immorality became the order of the world.  What followed was the collapse of civilization and the shift in belief system. Philosophers then thought of how to rationalize the baffling experience of that era. The consensus of opinions was aggregated in support of Existentialism, and other strands of thought, one of which is the notion of absurdism. It was in the literature of the period, especially drama, that the idea of absurdism realized in a most frightening manner its fullest manifestation.

Soren Kierkegaard, Albert Camus and other thinkers whose ideas illuminated the dark and dreary path of existentialism offered nuggets which novelist, poets and playwrights wove into creative canvas either as novels, poetry or plays. The genre of drama takes the eagle’s feather in the enactment of what constitutes the absurd. Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Eugene Ionesco, Tom Stoppard, Luigi Pirandello, among others wrote plays which limned the motifs of hopelessness, meaninglessness, loss of memory, devalued communication, suffering and chaos. The plays jettison the essence of a supernatural being and rather focus on man, his foibles, indecision, inaction, depravity and how these conspire to undo him. The characters in absurdist plays are ensnared in an unending cycle of cluelessness and doom.
The unfolding political scenario in Nigeria as the bell tolls for this year’s election more than fits the bill for an absurdist play. However, the road to the present inanities can be traced to the inability of the Nigerian people to construct a collective national aspiration to which we are beholden. Nigeria’s bane has always inhered in the capacity of a few to seize power and run the state as personal fiefdom so that fascism has always subverted nationalism. It was for this that the First Republic collapsed. Subsequent regimes were run by a small clique of soldiers and their civilian collaborators whose deeds were at variance with the nationalism they mouthed. The people never mattered and they were too docile to kick and insist that the state should be about the people and the people and the people.
1999 which marked the end of the last century ought to have drawn the curtain on fascism in Nigeria, but the people did not seize the initiative. Obasanjo rode roughshod over Nigeria, Jonathan was too naïve and absentminded and Buhari is a tabula rasa whose response to every quiz or puzzle is “I don’t know” accentuated by either a cold stare or a wan smile that would be fitting for a lead character in an absurdist play. The result of the aforesaid is that Nigeria is on the spiral and perches precariously on the precipice. The country now represents the worst in terms of development indices in. From corruption, hunger, health, education, insecurity, failed infrastructure, to the economy, Nigeria has drifted almost irredeemably.
Buhari is the lead character in the present absurdist play called Nigeria. His masterly depiction of that role began with his mathematical gaffe of 97% who voted for him and the 5% who didn’t. That goof took place in a foreign land to the chagrin of Nigerians whose president didn’t know that the balance of 97% was 3%. As if that was the prompter he needed, the President’s response to every other issue since then has been “I don’t know”. Under his watch, whatever gains, no matter how little, Nigeria made under Jonathan have been frittered away. Nigeria has become the quintessence of a failed state struggling to find a place in the company of Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Niger and other such God forsaken corners of the world.
The interview Buhari and his deputy, Osinbajo, had with Kadaria Ahmed before the elections spoke to the truth and shame that Nigeria is actually one big absurdist polity. Buhari could not give a coherent answer to any of the questions. His mind drifted off, he couldn’t recollect and made off the point statements. He goofed in Warri where he conceded his presidential ticket to a gubernatorial candidate he addressed as the presidential candidate of the APC while presenting the party’s flag to the fellow. Yet, some morally incontinent politicians and hirelings were beating the Buhari must get second term drum. Buhari’s wife has had cause to cry out that hyenas have taken over the government. She cried out asking if there were no more men in Nigeria while only two men hold the country hostage.
Nothing works in Nigeria anymore. Yet, the three serfs, Amaechi, Oshiomhole and Tinubu, daily insist that their lord, Buhari was doing well and that the economy, security and the anti-corruption war were all in top form. Oshiomhole prances on platforms to dismiss “those who could not bear the pain of rigging”. His most recent offering was to proclaim forgiveness for any offender who berths in the APC. In the middle of this miasma comes in Olusegun Obasanjo whose capacity for orukuruku remains unequalled. He has created a role for himself in the ongoing drama as the champion of folly. Were Nigeria not an absurdist entity, Obasanjo should be cooling off at Okere or Kirikiri for his many sins against Nigeria. Life has long stopped being a sore for the majority of Nigerians whose experience is writ large in agony. How did Nigeria get here? How did Nigeria slid into absurdism?

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