Normal it is, no politician would ever deny of not giving or auctioning something out as in manifesto to have masses’ support, affection or as way of being popular. Normal it is, that politicians would always claim that well-being of masses is their primary premium; either by donating cash or through provision of food items, frequently. But alas! Seasonal it is now that it usually appear to be an era of auctioning masses’ intentions in negotiations for victories, seasonal it is now that politicians see it as a bait to buy masses’ votes, to get elected, to prey on masses after succeeding.
You would see them when election is near, with their highly motivated politically bribe, with their faces feigned in smiles, with different hands logo, parading streets to dash out baits to convince and confuse masses to vote in particular direction, harum-scarum, hucos-pocus they would sabotage the mental ambiance of masses with different slogans, with jubilant bodies, with voice-so-sweet, “fiam!” After succeeding, till next season… Then hunger strikes. Worst ever was it when Politics of Stomach Infrastructure got heightened in Nigerian politics as a political program, though unofficial, in 2014 gubernatorial election poll in Ekiti State.
It was an embattled battle that turtled 2014 Ekiti gubernatorial election as Dr. Kayode Fayemi lost the election by a wide margin for believing in physical/social infrastructure whereas Ayodele Fayose won the election by placing Stomach Infrastructure over Physical Infrastructure – the development of critical social and physical infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals, jobs etc. Though he won and kept his promise, as he was usually reported to be donating bags of rice, chickens, and cash gifts to the people of Ekiti State for any festive eve. He was also reported for overpaying for services/products especially on roadside. Nice game, kudos!
But tell it out of a man, who gambles his expenses to beget masses’ love, that his first agenda after winning election is how he incurred those expenses, how to regain and squeeze back its oil mainly for him to have his lick as his meed. Little will one be convince that ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ does not add value to the masses; that it diminishes their self-esteem, self-worth and that it denigrates what politics ought to be about as though, it is a greatest magnet that can magnetize masses, but beneath it, are some sinister syndromes!
Or could it be that Ayodele Fayose opens this vault of ‘Stomach Infrastucture’ to be much more popular, probably to aligned himself and masses to this Yoruba adage: “Ounti eyan maje, ki je ki eyan gbon” meaning, “What one intend to eat, will cease one’s faculty from being wise”. Thus, many politicians, the power mongers would always plunge to this and use it against masses. Mostly, in era of ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ do masses make horrible mistake in differentiating the political saints and so-called power mongers. How is it when temporary gifts, either in cash or in kind could be given especially on election day? The human brain will so change in an instant!
Glaring the mayhem will be when fishermen teach not to how to fish but only to always dash out fishes; this ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ that is now willy-nilly zigzagging on the corridor of Nigerian politics usually powered by those power mongers is more or less “Eat-And-Let-Eat”. Its usually a seasonal drama where masses can’t differentiate between the political saints and the power mongers. The political saints; the “Visionary Leaders” whose major aims among others, is to focus on infrastructural development and other people-oriented programs – empowerment and jobs creation. While the power mongers; “the Invisible Vampires” with their kleptomaniac fingers would use ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ and “resolve to an instant gratification to buy peoples’ vote”, they would take any immeasurable measures to be in power, they had be happy to always use poverty as a tool to penetrate especially the grassroots, because of their affluence instead of visioning to permanently cease poverty, thus disadvantageous not only to the masses but to the political saints with mission and vision.
Tentatively, political saints are not usually elected, for they may not be affluence. One ought to think why must cash gifts/material things be used to exchange masses’ votes. No, like Chameleons, they won’t stick to their garments, they know of course the rightful, soothing way for the masses but stylishly, their garments would change after obsessing masses with temporary gifts especially on election day! “Kai!” Worst. Then how beautiful democracy would be? When it is of the people not by the people but for the people? Overlapping ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ on ‘Social Infrastructure’ is one of the trends capable of undermining democracy, halting societal growths and making democracy to be as useless as Obasanjo’s words, as useless as Ladies’ monthly period! Apology.
It saddens a lot, annoying but funny, how masses usually caress themselves with blows, romance themselves with slaps, and hug themselves with abusive words in order to copulate the seductive baits offered by those power mongers. Higgledy-piggledy, masses would queue their queue, roughly maybe under scorching sun – that is when they would be asked to form an attendance list for promiscuous promises. Hilarious enough, some power mongers’ aides, who are well aware that the so-called power mongers would disappear or would be shillyshallying with masses’ social objectives after elected, sometimes happened to be those power mongers’ morale.
But who is deceiving who? Are poli-tricking politicians, the power mongers usually deceived by the masses because masses always listen to them, voting them and for believing in them? Maybe they are usually deceived! Or are masses – most of whom are of old age, are usually deceived for changing their thumbs to tombs, for facing faces feigned in smiles, for allowing preyers to prey, for sacrificing sweats, strength and sheer loyalty? Masses are not fools, of course they are acquainted with the chameleonic skins of poli-tricking politicians – that, they would change, that they won’t remember them after getting elected, hardly with cash gifts and material things. But maybe those foolish fools foolishly fooling masses as fools realise this not that, the “fools who are fooling other fools foolishly believe that the other fools are as foolish as themselves”. They realise not, it saddens.
If truly ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ is to be used officially to erase poverty, then, the then former Governor of State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola’s APC-led Goverment’s O-MEALS in State of Osun could be used as a case study. O-MEALS as an initiative, was the Osun Elementary School Feeding Programme, with some tangile gathered facts that, the programme fed 254,000 school children in the State of Osun, that the programme employed 3,007 caterers, and indirectly employs 7,057 people. Thus, cow marketers, poultry farmers, catfish farmers, cocoyam farmers and likes benefited from O-MEALS initiative. How beautiful! But if something like this can’t be happening, then ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ is a flop, a sham, a bait and a menacing tool to the disadvantaged few.
But sad, no matter how writers rightly write to fight off the flight of corrupt practices by poli-tricking politicians, writers would be seen as haters and enemy of their progress. Sad. After election, no matter how masses mourn and moan over the miscreant, mischievous acts of those master men; master men would only be watching with blind eyes and paying their deaf ears till another next season when they would come back to entertain masses with another set of dramas! Sad.
©Hammed J. Sulaiman
Poet/Essayist/Writer, a member of Pen Press Journalists (UDUS) and a Student of Law from the Most Peaceful University in Nigeria, UDUSOK.