Riding the Tiger, By Michael Ovienmhada
Michael Ovienmhada

Historically, in free countries, elections are a time to do an assessment of the government in power, and decide whether to send the incumbent packing or affirm him/her to continue.

As the midterm elections concluded in the US, the people made a decision to, for the most part, reaffirm the government of President Joe Biden by giving his Party a majority in the Senate. The House was taken by the Republicans in a thin margin. It would be interesting to see, given the narrow mandate they have, how the Republicans plan to use their power in the shadow of the former president.

Extremism is alive and well in the strong hands of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who, if McCarthy becomes Speaker would wield real power behind the scenes. Line for line, McCarthy’s every speech or policy pronouncements will bear the imprint of Marjorie. It may be in order therefore to make bold to say, “Hello Madam Speaker Marjorie Green.”

The Party-line votes are still being counted. McCarthy should be wary, the devil he chooses to dine with in desperation to make a deal to get the votes to be Speaker.

Of note is the fact that—in spite of high inflation, rising rents, and high food costs——there were other issues which appeared to be of greater concern to the electorate—-the growing threat to democracy. It becomes especially poignant for an immigrant like myself, when I see some people who look like me, giving support to tendencies that made us leave our countries in the first place. It is easy for people to forget that the slide to autocracy never happens in one fell swoop. It is usually a slippery slope.

The mythical ‘light on a shining hill’ dims slowly to the extent that we chip away at the pillars of democracy—-freedom of speech, free elections, the rule of law and personal responsibility.

God bless America.

Around the world, trouble is not abating in Iran. After 42 years of the rule of the Ayatollahs, a new generation of young Iranians who do not harbor the fears and trepidations their parents have of the government have come out to say—-enough is enough. Their cry for reforms are being met by bullets on a daily basis but they are not letting up. The Ayatollahs may, for the first time be facing an existential threat.

Do they know it?

China, on the other hand is still dealing with COVID in ways we can only imagine. Out of national pride, they have refused help from Western nations for vaccines that aided the West to manage the challenge. A Cold War attitude by China is unhelpful in this matter as COVID is an international problem, and ought to be dealt with as such. If China refuses to seek help, the rest of the world may have to brace itself for another round of catastrophe with the dreaded pandemic. Notably, the Chinese people, are not keeping quiet in the face of extreme repressive tactics by government agents. Their cries for freedom from extreme lockdowns may soon evolve to a resolve for the dissolution of the Communist regime. It would appear that people who wield power tend to live in a bubble.

Do they ever learn anything?

As I cast a panoramic view around the world each week, inevitably, my lenses must focus on my beautiful country, beautiful people, the home of the best tasting beers, and of course, Jolof rice.

My people have suffered for far too long in the hands of leaders who do not understand the meaning of the Sacred Trust. The question that rears its head, and must be answered every election cycle is fairly straightforward:

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

To many observers, the thinking is that this vital question may not be relevant to the Nigerian electorate even in the face of a plethora of vicissitudes inflicted upon them by the ruling Party which in this case, has been in power for two terms of four years each, the second of which concludes in May 2023. The fears expressed among other things are: the influence of money; tribalism, regionalism, and religion.

Identification with the oppressor appears also appears to be a recurring decimal every election cycle. The oppressor understands this very well, and so, he stores money meant for development in warehouses, awaiting election season for distribution to the hapless, and desperately poor.

A big tool the oppressor employs is regionalism and religion. A candidate boldly declared to a gathering of “his people” a few weeks ago, that they should only vote for someone like him, not because he is the best candidate but because he is of their tribe, their region and their religion. This is reason for deep concern especially given the fact that this candidate was once Vice President of Nigeria, and ought to have been emancipated from that level of thinking, and base expression.

In a counter argument, another candidate says—“do not vote for me because of my tribe, my region or my religion. Only vote for me because you think I can solve the problems of hunger, poverty, unemployment, and insecurity. When you go to the market, does the seller sell to you cheaper because of your tribe or religion,” he asks.

Only time will tell if the Nigerian electorate will listen to his appeal, or as of old, yield to the identification with the oppressor— also known as the Stockholm Syndrome.

Not so cheery news comes from Israel. Bibi is back. Hawkism is back. Bibi is not good for the quest for peace if his antecedents are anything to go by. Israel deserves to live in peace. So do the Palestinians. I am of the Clintonian school of thought that only a Two-State solution stands a chance of bringing long term peace to the ancient civilizations in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, as nations continue the battle for supremacy at the World Cup holding in Qatar, it may be time to sound the age-old idiom of the Romans: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

O ye people of the West, lend me your ears, and take heed: When in Qatar, do as the Qataris do. Those people don’t play.

As you begin a new week, and as the year 2022 winds down, may Adonai, creator of heaven and earth keep you, and guide you through all the way to 2023.

Michael (O’meekey) Ovienmhada.
Author, Poet, Playwright, and Public Affairs Commentator.
[email protected]

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