Are you Nigerian and have not seen the film-series “Hustle”? I have good news for you – you do not need to. Don’t get me wrong, it is spectacular. But, and herein lies my point, why pay to watch sometimes-unclear british accents when its subject matter – the “long con” – can be experienced LIVE! and in 3-D in an equally-interesting, locally-available, and free film-series called Nigerian Politics?
Wikipedia defines a long con (big con or long game) as a scam that unfolds over several weeks, involving a team of swindlers, props, sets, extras, costumes, and scripted lines. It is also called a confidence trick, and refers to an attempt to defraud a person or group, called the mark, after first gaining their trust or confidence.
Hustle points out the following salient points about long cons. First, they aim to clean you out for everything you are worth. This is called the Score. They are not after your wallet or some tiny portion of your savings. Second, there is always an invisible “puppeteer” pulling the strings. These strings control puppets or props, who, usually, don’t know their strings are being pulled. Puppets have an active role, while props are just for show. Finally, puppeteers have accomplices, who help to pull these strings.
Nigerian politics is the long con you do not have to pay to watch. If you are Nigerian, you are smack in the middle. You are the mark. The score is your vote, and with it, your God-given, citizenship-endowed share of Nigeria’s resources for the next four years. The con-men are called politicians, very few of whom are puppeteers, some are accomplices, many are props, and most are puppets.
Don’t believe me? Then consider these.
A long con involves six definite steps, made in advance of the game. The first is foundation work, including setting up of props and puppets. An approach to the mark is made, following which there is a build-up. Here, the mark is intimated of the scheme’s benefits. Then comes the pay-off or convincer, where the victim receives a small payout as demonstration of the scheme’s effectiveness. Suddenly, a change of events forces the victim to act immediately. This is the hurrah. If the mark is still not fully convinced, there is an In-and-In, where, an accomplice, posing as an interested bystander, puts their money in to lend the scheme legitimacy. Usually, this clinches the deal.
By now, you must be dying to know which scam I am referring to.
If you follow Nigerian politics, you must have been amused by the irony of PDP “announcing” a “coalition” with briefcase parties after bragging about being the largest in Nigeria. But that was the foundation for the “coalition game”.
As if on cue, “young candidates” were approached, if not even bullied, by “concerned individuals” to form a “coalition” too. Without it, it was emphasized multiply, there was no hope of changing this old order holding Nigeria and Nigerians to ransom. After all, even “almighty PDP” was drinking from a CUPP! That was the build up. After that, even you must have developed confidence in the word “coalition”.
You must then have been dismayed to see PACT – this coalition of young aspirants – careen quickly to a dead end, egged on by a premature vote to select ONE aspirant (thereby eliminating EVERYONE ELSE from the presidential race). This is despite warnings to wait until they had at least won their party’s nominations! But, alas, they needed a pay-off to deceive you into thinking big things would follow. There was an added advantage – for most aspirants, that pay-off to Nigerians was their death blow. Why invest effort or resources in a nationwide campaign when your own “colleagues” won’t even choose you?
A certain Omoyele Sowore refused to read the memo, however. Not only did he exit PACT before the rush to certain death, he expanded his campaign countrywide, started a political party called the African Action Congress (AAC), all the while screaming to all that would listen that the PDP and APC were the same. The con-men not go to sleep just yet.
So, they threw a hurrah – Ezekwesili “sacrificed” her presidential ambition to focus on a “coalition” to beat the APC and PDP. Barely hours before her party endorsed the APC candidate! Surprising, yeah? This is the same person that announced her candidacy AFTER overseeing the premature death of the PACT coalition. The same umpire who kept mute as Kingsley Moghalu torpedoed the “coalition”!
A day later came the In-and-In – an ANN and YPP coalition! Otherwise, how do you explain a coalition of ANN’s Durotoye, whose PACT victory was torpedoed, and YPP’s Moghalu, who did the torpedoing by dishonoring an agreement he had pushed, and signed? What has changed that Moghalu suddenly believes in a coalition with Durotoye? Why has he not suffered any consequences for killing PACT? Is coalescing just a pastime for these two?
Then consider the rather stellar timing – barely days after a certain Omoyele Sowore (remember him?) had disemboweled the APC and PDP on a widely-watched townhall on prime-time National TV.
The same Sowore that was excluded from a debate organized by the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) and Channels TV a few days earlier, despite clear violation of broadcasting ethics.
The same debate that featured just these coalition-eers in it, as, “co-incidentally”, BOTH the APC and PDP.
And if it wasn’t curious enough, John Momoh, the CEO of Channels TV resigned the BON Chairmanship just days after that debate – after resisting protests and a legal challenge to include Sowore in it.
If you are like me, having watched Hustle, and having identified a scam, you would have smiled, patted yourself on the back for a job well-done, and then begun to ask, just as I am now – amongst all listed (and not listed), who are the puppets, the accomplices, and the props? And who is/are the puppeteer(s)?