By Sam Omatseye
A beauty contest enchants the hour. Three vixens entrance the runway. They preen and prance to bewitch our eyes. But who is the fairest of them all?
For thighs, we ogle for text. For voice, we lust for clarity. Instead of bosoms, gait, hips, and the warmth of a pair of electric eyes, we want the full body of ideas. Rather than what they manifest, we flip the pages of the manifesto.
So, we have them all now. The Labour Party, after shally-shallying, is no longer fighting shy. It has bowed to pressure and released its document of desire. It had conflated off-kilter rhetoric for prose. We have seen that of Atiku’s People’s Democratic Party, and also the offering of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress. It now falls on Nigerians to compare, to see who flatters our secret hopes, whose drop of water banishes the thirst on our dry spot. They would now look at the three contestants and wonder who seduces our fancies, who lets “witchcraft blend with beauty,” apologies to Shakespeare.
For this essayist, the PDP manifesto is so cliché, so humdrum, a jejune transcribing of our debates. It is like a secretary taking minutes of our dialogues with an imaginative play. A faithful scribe. What we want is not a faithful servant of our deliberations. We need a scribe of thought, a scribe with an attitude. So, PDP showing is a regular beauty, a boring beauty. Its eyes have no Shakespearean witchcraft allure, the ability to stun without a stunt.
As for the LP, I will look at it for its pretension to originality, which is remarkable in itself. For one, it is a dodgy affair. It is called a manifesto of a Labour Party but manages to forget to say something that all labour people want to know: Subsidy. Where is its stand on oil subsidy? If its candidate removing subsidy against the stance of its philosophy of protecting labour from the wave of turbulence that it might bring? Is it philosophical cowardice? It cannot touch its own pulse, a labour movement’s reason of being?
I looked at the whole document, and it is not even engaged on the question of oil and gas into which the APC manifesto immerses itself. Is it memory loss? For its candidate who suffers statistical amnesia, we may want to pardon it for forgetting its roots. Maybe, it is because the hours are hectic, especially with quite a few of its honchos hunched in open wrestling. The floor is dripping with sweat and swear words. Okupe, hefty and growling, against the others snarling to the media.
They are no mean fighters. The internet is afire with their fumes and fury. I am not sure where to find the director general of its campaign, my good friend Doyin Okupe. We have not seen the presidential candidate who appointed him either. With his God-given twitters ( the bird sound, not the social media platform), his voice is probably too thin to roar the fighters into line. He, a former governor who is supposed to be our mister clean without a skeleton in his cupboard. He who owned an offshore account while governor and set up a supermarket. He would not say a thing or two about suspensions and reinstatement and suspension of Okupe. It is over another memory loss about losing revenue to pay people to throng its mass rallies in the country. It is not about obeying the call of a nation. It is about obeying the call of filthy lucre. We were made to believe that the LP was a party of refreshing new persona, to invigorate new ideas, to stamp out the corrupt past. PDP has had its own stories about money changing hand. Rivers State Governor Wike lashed out at Ayu for handcuffing a billion Naira. The party gave housing allowances with nowhere to warehouse an explanation when the beneficiaries started turning it back. APC may not be pure. But we have not read a scandal on their presidential race. If they have had, at least they are not like PDP and LP where we don’t need to pry in order to see.