The Failed Coup d’Etat of February 23rd, By Simbo Olorunfemi
…though the child that was born on February 23rd is indeed a child of many fathers, while the result of the paternity test might not be out, an off-hand inquisition leads to an inference of a failure of a coup d’etat planned and executed by the elite, without a proper understanding of the times and an incumbency, which for once, owes its strength and survival to the bottom of the pyramid…
The ego of the dominant power elite has always been fragile. Used to decades of being pampered and catered for, while leading from the kitchen, being pulled back from the feeding bottle it has held down with its teeth for so long was always going to incur its wrath. It has always resisted being weaned off the privileges of high life. Any indication or attempt at pulling the plug draws its ire. Some of its members, used to having public policies wrapped around their preferences and pretences, were not simply going to roll over and let the privileges they are accustomed to slip by. With the result of the 2015 election, a fight-back was to be expected and it didn’t take time for the declaration of war to be evident, coming to a head in 2018, with a formal gang-up against the incumbency and spirited efforts at ensuring a non-return to office.
But the restiveness did not only restrict itself to the camp of the power elite, it took firm hold of the different segments of the general elite, even infiltrating the otherwise ascetic spiritual and intellectual wings, and helping to push a false narrative targeted at creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. The objective was for this to percolate to the lower levels of the elite class, and it did. A carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation and demonisation created a bubble in which those caught in there became victims of their echo chamber.
To each, its own basis of restiveness and dislike for the emergent era. For the corruption-engineered ecosystem, it was pretty straightforward. It was a fight-back by direct and indirect beneficiaries of the laissez-faire system to ensure the return of the old good days. Theirs was an easy fight to contextualise. New money, caged by a culture of lawlessness it had become accustomed to, knew it was not going to find life outside the distorted corruption-enabled economy easy and it has not. So its fight-back was easy to understand.
But then, there was another face of the clap-back, situated more on the back of hubris – conceit on the part of some more interested in optics than substance, with a haughty assumption that it is only that which they prescribe that is good enough. For them, it was simply about assuaging their feel-good propensity, and they have no idea of what it means to build bottom-up or delay gratification. As long as they cannot have cake this very moment, they must stand in the way of those who will make do with bread, in acceptance of a delay in gratification.
But then, there are also bystanders, many genuine aspirants for a different approach or mind-set for fixing things. Even when naivety or a lack of the understanding of the architecture of governance renders some of their prescriptions and projections off-the-mark, there is no faulting the good intentions that propel them. Unfortunately, they inadvertently played to the advantage of the displaced power elite and direct beneficiaries of the corruption ecosystem working hard to overthrow or overpower today so that the yesterday of their preference can make a come-back.
Members of the class are so self-centred and easily given to envy that the communal kájolà spirit is a stranger to them. Given to perennial barking without a will to bite its wish into life, it lacks the imagination and wherewithal to mobilise a critical mass behind any worthy cause.
By and large, what played out in the recently concluded election was the power elite, new-money beneficiaries of the laissez-faire system, largely powered by corruption, along with some bystanders, who do not necessarily share in the idiosyncrasies of these two, but are sufficiently irritated about what they saw as unfulfilled expectation and perception of performance, congregating on one side, united by the desire to see out the incumbent.
But many of the members of this class, even with their miles of experience and records of accomplishment are often poor students of history and not quite sharp, as many assume, in reading the tea leaves when it comes to the dynamics of power transition. They invest too much hope in the invincibility of the moment that the train to the future often passes them by. Many members of the elite could not rightly decipher the moment for what it represented.
For a fact, we have never really had a discerning elite, one perceptive enough to work out its future, years ahead, to ensure that the country does not collapse inside-out, even for its own self-preservation. It is so caught up in the moment to think its way beyond self-aggrandisement. Members of the class are so self-centred and easily given to envy that the communal kájolà spirit is a stranger to them. Given to perennial barking without a will to bite its wish into life, it lacks the imagination and wherewithal to mobilise a critical mass behind any worthy cause.
So, while the displaced power elite, yearning for a return of power, found itself in an easy alliance with the restive new money and the beneficiaries of the corruption-oiled ecosystem on the need for a change of guard, fashioning an acceptable narrative became a challenge. Even when that desire resonated with some of the influential voices among the intellectuals, even if some were also only self-serving, it still did not make it an easy sell. Perhaps, that is why for the religious elite who struck an accord with them, it had to rely on demagoguery, instigation of fear and propagation of false narratives framed around ethnic and religious legs, without rhyme or reason.
That is the reason why, tried as they did, they could not successfully rupture the umbilical cord that connected the incumbent with the bottom of the pyramid, especially with the social intervention programmes and initiative in the agriculture sector, derided by the elite as tokenism, but resonating with the bottom.
With the failure of the coup by the dominant power elite, the line appears drawn. We might have just witnessed the resurgence of an ideology-inspired contestation, in some form. One lesson therefrom – the door that integrity will open, new money will fiddle with it, without success.
That is why the smoke induced in the name of the Thirrd Force dissolved into the cloud of mischief and the badbelleism that birthed it. That is why the other face of disaffection and desire for a different way got caught up in the contradictions of the moment and the absence of a strategic blueprint or lack of will to die to self for the sake of the communal good. Both speak to the inability of an elite, not given to circumspection and introspection, to successfully chart a course on the back of the insistent barking in assorted tongues.
So, though the child that was born on February 23rd is indeed a child of many fathers, while the result of the paternity test might not be out, an off-hand inquisition leads to an inference of a failure of a coup d’etat planned and executed by the elite, without a proper understanding of the times and an incumbency, which for once, owes its strength and survival to the bottom of the pyramid which believes in it and is determined to cut off the overreaching elite.
While the congregation to the right invested their hope and aspiration on the regular methodology and the authority blocs that have always called the shots, it did not realise that an army had been raised in the opposite direction, firmly rooted in the pursuit of its own cause, refusing to be swayed by the sea of words invented, fabricated and dispensed with a view to harvesting their minds.
The more irritated the group to the right became, the more energised the other group was. While it was about ego for one, it was about survival for the other. The power elite and its appendages might have seen investment at the bottom as a waste and of little value, it was an investment in lives, dignity, hope and faith in the people at the bottom of the pyramid. It was a divide. Those who were determined to upturn the cart spoke with their votes, in their different comfort corners around the country. Those who are seeing what the elite and company could not see spoke with their votes in other places. Fortunately, I dare say, the latter were in the majority.
Beyond the ethno-religious factor and other variables that play to our fault-lines, at the sub-structure of what largely played out on February 23rd was the largely unintended and unprecedented demarcation along what is close to being identified as ideological lines. We might have pushed ourselves to two different corners – a little to the right there, a little to the left here. With the failure of the coup by the dominant power elite, the line appears drawn. We might have just witnessed the resurgence of an ideology-inspired contestation, in some form. One lesson therefrom – the door that integrity will open, new money will fiddle with it, without success.