Ours were not a childhood of PlayStation, Sega and chocolate. We saw life through the prism of earth, dust and mud. We rolled used tyres for fun and traded in rubber bands. We played Champions leagues and the premierships complete with fixtures, tables and cups using bottle corks and cassette tape buttons. The winning team at the end of each season had a carefully decorated light bulbs for rewards. PlayStation had nothing on us, we did not need Sega. But one game we loved the most was mud fighting.

We would pitch ourselves into two or more teams, dressed in only panties and human skins, hands heavily deeped into wet Earth’s clay as we take the position. We could have been friends moments before, best friends even, but once pitched against each other, we were lethal enemies of each other. With only mud as our weapons, we would roll balls of it and take good aims at each other. The team that was able to make most of the hits and take down the others won. Usually the feeling that you triumphed was enough elixir for our innocent hearts to live through to the next game of mud. We would become friends again immediately after a mud fight, however brutal it may have been. On the battlefield we were brutal enemies, but before and after each battle are we best friends. That is the summary of the game of mud fighting and I am tempted to think that most Nigerian politicians grew up when the game was most popular and they did hone their skills then.

The Nigerian politics in all simplicity is an advance level of the game of mud fighting. The political systems seem to have adopted all the principles and techniques of the childhood game that seemed extinct with our childhood.

In politics, we notice that there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests. This is essentially the most important principle of mud fighting. Anything that happens in the mainbowl stays in the mainbowl. After the crowning of the new set of champions, everyone becomes friends and brothers again. No permanent enemies. What a game!

The politicians are well aware of this and so armed with the most lethal information about each other, they throw insults, lies, blackmails, banters are all useful balls of mud that could be thrown, when the arena is declared opened. And if your friend happened to have decamped to the other team because of his personal interests then everything you know about him becomes a weapon and vice versa.

The Nigerian politicians know that if they keep the excitement of the game of mud fighting on for so long, nobody will remember to ask the right questions. Nobody will think about how each of them was planning to respond to issues of the day. And so campaigns and rallies and debates are reduced into a circus of mud throwing and deflecting. Then after elections we are not the wiser, as we notice people we perceived during elections as sworn enemies eating and sharing a plate. Attending occasions together, and without even cross carpeting going on trips together. They simply become friends again, because all politicians are friends of each other and their interests. Their only true enemies are the electorate that they just deceived into joining in the mud fight.

The politicians are aware that the Nigerian electorate does not keep records, neither does he think nor hold them accountable. The Nigerian politicians through experience have been convinced that campaigns and debates do not win elections here. They know that a lot of noise and tree shaking does, especially when you wet the floor that the voters stand on with minted papers. So this year, a lot of noise and tree shaking is currently ongoing. Character assassinations and counter assassinations perforate our national dailies. Lies and gimmicks are being peddled by political merchants. Like baited hooks, we latch on to them as if our lives are dependent on them, until it is too late to be otherwise.

So unlike 2015 that the President and his opposition toured through the entire thirty six States of the Federation to peddle what they peddle in fora called campaign rallies. This year we notice that they do not seem to care anymore, as both parties have chosen to use geopolitical zones, and so instead of thirty six and one, they are doing six plus one. What a shame!

The Atiku campaign team seem to have lost the well Atikulated plans on how to get Nigeria working again. Yet nobody seems to be bothered. Nobody is asking what has happened to the plans. It seems like nobody is concerned about how this great plan can work in a multidimensional political system like that of Nigeria.

The main opposition of the government of the day seems to be more concerned about throwing dirt and mud over the counter. Of course, the All Progressives Congress also came to the mud party with a healthy pool of wet clay. They too seem to have lost the plans for the Next Level and only kept the chant with them to spur them as they fling with their might the mud they could find. What about the crowd of witnesses that surrounds this glamorous show of shame? Their job is simple, pick a side and help them with some of the mud throwing. If you are high up and have access to the mainbowl, then you could help with digging out some more mud and making grenades out of it for the elites. What a mess!

This advanced game of mud fighting in our political space will always claim not a few lives. The hunger games festival has not been fully opened and we have seen the prelude of a neck stabbing in a Lagos rally. Siblings will be at loggerheads when the game reaches fever pitch in the next few weeks. Brothers will stab one another in solidarity of their political parties, and in some cases, it is a fight to the death.

We need to become wise this year. Like the politicians we need to come to the mud party having read and understood the brochure of the game. That in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies only permanent interests. That after each mud fighting season we are still friends and brothers. That the game of mud fighting is not targetted at maiming or killing each other but to simply apply dirt and make it stick around enough to cause a political mess that would change the voters’ mind.

However, it would be much more better if we could hold politicians accountable on grounds of issues of the day. It would make our democracy that has remained a malnourished dwarf of 20 years old to finally grow and mature, if we refused to be hoodwinked. If we deliberately refused to drink of the ecstasy or float in the opium of leaked tapes and dramatic power plays. If we come into the mainbowl clear-eyed and uninfluenced by the negative political press of the day. If we could ask questions about what the Presidential aspirants want to do about the failing economic systems of Nigeria. If you say you will create twelve million jobs in six months, how do you want to do this without causing a loss of sixteen million jobs within that same period? What are state governors going to do about their internally generated revenue?. How are they going to raise, monthly, the deficit that would be created in both revenue and capital costs, as the federal allocations to them continue to shrink, without needing to borrow recklessly? How do they as Commanders in Chief of their respective states want to address the issues of insecurity and threats to peaceful coexistence? And if overwhelmed by the security challenges will they continue and watch hundreds of lives cut off, or will they be dignified enough to resign their positions with due apology?

There are so many questions and so many useful dirt and mud we can dig out to help us decide those whose interests align with our progress as a state and a nation. This year is another season of mud fighting but rather than allow the politicians pick the fight and weapons, I wish that the Nigerian electorate can hijack the whole game and dictate the questions to be raised and answered.

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