Of 2023 and our cornucopia of excesses, by Hassan Gimba
Cornucopia, a word with Latin origin and Greek history, comes from the Latin cornu copiae, which translates literally to “horn of plenty.” Cornucopia is believed to represent the horn of a goat in Greek mythology. Legend has it that it was from this horn that the god, Zeus, was fed as an infant. Later, the horn was filled with flowers and fruits and given as a present to Zeus. The word first appeared in English in the early 16th century; a century later, it developed the figurative sense of an overflowing supply. And so, cornucopia means abundance, plenty, an inexhaustible amount of something.
Excess is the state or an instance of surpassing usual, proper, or specified limits. Call it superfluity and you are not wide off the mark.
While Nigerians’ penchant for the generosity of spirit in whatever we do is well known, there are other countries more superfluous than us. Though our exaggerations are more for fun, after which we all patch things up as brothers, some countries’ excesses are meant to despoil – and they can take it to any length.
Or what do you call that of Switzerland, a country that has, since African countries started attaining independence, been encouraging its thieving leaders to steal the continent blind and take the loot to the country to enrich it? A “holier than thou” lazy country that produces nothing, only to use proceeds from all manner of local and international crimes to propel itself into the class of the developed world?
To them, using African leaders to undermine and aid the underdevelopment of Africa is not enough until they steal the poor countries’ talents and use them against their motherland. And we practically saw this when they used Breel Embolo, a Cameroonian native, to shoot down his country at the ongoing football world cup in Qatar.
And back home, when people talk of 2023, it is all about the elections taking place next year. And so, as 2023 approaches, Nigerians, representing their political parties, have been making noises about their parties, candidates and their chances. Some in banter form and some in war form.
Mainly, supporters of the two dominant parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), have been at each other’s throats but more in a banter-like manner. Those of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) of Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are being treated with respect by both sides, perhaps thinking they will be courted in the case of a runoff election. But none banters with the “Obedient” as they call themselves because of their (apologies to Soludo) “Nzogbu, Nzogbu, enyimba enyi” approach to politics. They can insult the living daylights out of anyone who dares to criticise their candidate on social media. Talk of cyber bullies, and they are the best examples. And so, with them, it’s more warlike than banter-like.
And so, let me concentrate on the two major parties who have become more of “playmates” than “fight-mates”. We even saw this when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC presidential candidate, ran into Waziri Atiku Abubakar of the PDP at an airport. Asiwaju saw the PDP flag on the chest of his major opponent and even touched it, and he was jokingly asked where his own was.
Their supporters lie in wait to catch a gaffe or slip of the tongue to latch on to and heckle the rival with gibes about the gaffe. Tinubu’s “Emi lokan” trended, especially before his party’s primaries, with those opposed to him producing various comical videos and images of him.
While Dino Melaye made one slip when in his party’s presidential campaign in Maiduguri he asked supporters to “vote for APC”, his presidential candidate has largely escaped that, so far.
Not so Tinubu who, perhaps through acoustic distortion, was caught saying something like Bula baloo, buluu buluu and to which his followers said he was trying to say “hullaballoo”, not minding the fact that he was talking about a town hall meeting in which the word was unnecessary. At Gbaramatu, too, he was heard saying Omo Agege will be the governor of Niger Delta State. And in Lagos, he told them to go and take their ‘APV’ to vote for the APC.
Earlier, he was heard saying, in a rally, “God bless PD” before he caught himself and added APC. His people quickly, after initial inertia, gathered their wits and said he meant Nyesom Wike’s G5 governors.
Talking about Wike, we see how “integrity” was given another meaning. They (G-5 governors and others) are fighting their party instead of leaving it, to the extent that even though he is not the chairman of his party, he still was seen giving flags to candidates, yet they are an “integrity” group.
But the APC, too, has its fair share of internal strife. Miffed by its Muslim-Muslim ticket, Babachir Lawal and other APC Northern Christian leaders are fighting their party, even endorsing a candidate on a different platform.
Well, all these brickbats will end with the announcement of results by INEC in February next year. Then the battleground will almost certainly shift to the courts. Results will be based on who the voters overwhelmingly choose. This is why a court decision for INEC to open its registration of voters is a welcome development. We need to know… those who are 18 today, and many who will turn 18 a day before the election, do we disenfranchise them by stopping voter registration? Let INEC deal with that.
We will also look at how the oil found in Gombe will go. Before the 2019 election, we were told that Baru had been dredged. The president, as in this case, was there to commission it. I don’t know the status of Baru now. Is it politics? Is it why the governor of Jigawa told his people that Jigawa’s “oil” too would be found if Tinubu becomes president?
It was a piece of good news to learn that Senator Aishatu Dahiru Mohammed, popularly called Binani, has had her mandate restored by the Court of Appeal. I first came to know of her in 2015 when I was the Editor of Friday Leadership. We developed a way of helping the needy and so we usually published stories of sick people who needed financial aid. This woman would send me the money through Yusuf Alli of The Nation – sometimes in millions – with a caveat that I should not mention her to the beneficiaries or the public. Seven years is long enough and again, people need to know the type of person she is. She is the kind of person that should be in the seat of governance. Kind, generous, motherly and sympathetic, Binani will be a good governor, especially in a backward state like Adamawa.
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.