“TIS the eye of childhood,” quipped Lady Macbeth, “That fears a painted devil”. The malevolent Lady Macbeth was busy goading her doddering, tottering, ill-fated husband, King Macbeth, to his doom, after usurping the Scottish throne and willy-nilly trying to keep it.
But were the fictional Lady Macbeth, in Shakespeare’s tragic play, Macbeth, to be around today, she probably would have sneered, looking at how our politicians celebrate defections and counter-defexctions: “Tis the eye — and mind — of childhood that toasts a painted lolly!”
Each time political players do the hop-skip-and-flip, they unleash a pantomime, staged for the converted and the unwary. But they also kid themselves every other person is conned. Hardly!
And the defector, in that shameless tradition, now starts speaking in tongues, like some neophyte at the first crusade of his or her new faith: drooling, non-stop, his latest destination is sheer paradise on earth. Nice try!
Since the late Akin Omoboriowo did the jump before the ill-fated elections of 1983 — Omoboriowo, the self-acclaimed Awoist-forged-in-heaven — the drama had been off. Yet, each time there is an encore, the players put up a show, to scam the unwary.
Of course, ideological politics more or less ended with the Omoboriowo era of the 2nd Republic (1979-1983). After that time, Ibrahim Babangida had infected the polity with his so-called “new breed”, who have now come of age, rippling with the lack of ideological core, with which Babangida planted his “a little bit to the left” and “a little bit to the right” parties, with both somewhat finding him flush at the centre, as the real deal! But even that aborted in infamy — if only wishes were horses!
Those getting excited over current partisan movements are entitled to their fancy. But after all the initial frenzy, what is it worth in real terms?
The most peripatetic of current politicians is clearly former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. He had moved from PDP to AC, moved back to PDP, again to APC, before going back to PDP. Yet, the presidential diadem he so covets, with his political nomadism, has continued to elude him.
Well, the most nomadic might be Atiku. But the most crumbled has been Bukola Saraki, former president of the Senate, a position he corralled by selling off his own party for personal gain. After that “original sin” had matured, he found himself an internally displaced politician (IDP), shooed off his Ilorin base, and Kwara lair, with mocking screams of “o-to-ge” (enough is enough)!
Atiku and Saraki’s personal odysseys have shown “jump-ology” neither grows individual nor collective political culture, much as it raises political adrenalin, while in season. Yet, it is dross that must be shed for the political party system to grow, mature and deepen.
So, the current cross-party pageants are not new. They probably won’t be the last. But they are the shedding of dross needed to purify individual parties and solidify the political party system.
Still, as actors, individual and collective, celebrate short-term gains and losses, let them know vacuity confers no partisan advantage. If your partisan reputation is anchored on nothing, you’d probably get nothing out of the show, no matter how long.