Assurance and Stomach Infrastructure, Thumbs for Heads

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Elections 2019Music

Would you want to know how many of this Sunday’s services nationwide featured, at some point during the ceremony, the hymn ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine’?

Me too.

Thanks Davido – the Headies 2018 Artiste of the Year – assurance was the buzz of the first week of May. His gift of a highly priced Porsche – N45 million, we are told – to his girlfriend was the klaxon. The wave of the sensation spread everywhere from social media to formal events like the Platform where presidential aspirant Fela Durotoye, ever sensitive to the pulse of trends, took due advantage: “Workers don’t just need accolades but assurance”, he said in his speech.

Will assurance, in view of the 2019 elections, take on some significance in political discourse? It has only been a week really, but something is happening. The widely admired Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, tweeted to Davido on Friday, that he was “a huge fan” of the artiste, and would be “glad if you can use your massive influence to work together with me in convincing our young people to go get their PVC”. The catch is in how he ended the post:

“Do I have your assurance?”

Again, Mr ‘Sarkin Aiki’ Dankwambo is in the good books of many and has been tipped in some circles as a viable alternative to a second tenure for President Muhammadu Buhari. He is not one of those who have formally declared their intentions but he has talked enough about the coming elections to create the sense of interest. Any governor concluding his second term is either a Senatorial candidate or, as it was with so many of them in 2007, eyeing the presidency.

Davido and performers of his quality have practically changed the face of Nigerian music over the past decade, but the same cannot be said of the political process, especially elections. Voter turnout is still a problem, caused, in part, by the difficulty in registration and collection of permanent voter cards (PVC). The electoral laws that make no provision for postage voting or voting from Diaspora are also antiquated configurations that continue to disenfranchise citizens whose inputs can affect outcomes.

Then there are the phases leading up to the elections: the primaries, which are mostly a farce as Dr Joe Abah furiously emphasized in a brilliant piece, and the campaigns, significant for the prominence and continued relevance of stomach infrastructure.

For voters, stomach infrastructure is the insurance they get from aspirants of public office in case their paths never cross again. For aspirants, it is the assurance they receive from voters that they will give their thumbs at the booth in exchange for their heads for a period of four years. (I have taken ‘thumbs for heads’ from ‘All I Know’ by another artiste Vector).

The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is already doing this – isn’t he? – with that picture of him eating a “tasty” meal with school children in Ogun state as a showcase that the School Feeding Programme is progressing well. Expect more photos like that: of aspirants eating corn by the roadside or by a mai shayi drinking hot tea with too much sugar. And like was reported in the 2017 Anambra gubernatorial elections, we can expect take-away packages to encourage or reward voters in the coming polls, beginning from Ekiti on July 14. If there will be no rain, budgets will be made for a few akara and bread banners.

Without sniffing at their growing influence in the socio-political environment, perhaps artistes like Davido, without knowing, aid the stomach infrastructure society while preaching assurance. If you get someone such an expensive gift, would it not become normal to expect a commitment to you such that you solely determine what is good enough for the person even when their say may not be obvious?

To his credit, Davido replied Governor Dankwambo pledging to do “anything to serve my Country and people”. It is quite easy to have faith in him that he actually means it, and it would be nice to have same faith in politicians and aspiring office holders. However, without a substantial and institutional show of commitment beyond articles of assurance exciting and valuable in the moment, there is only so much trust one can have that our socio-political relationships can be sustainable.

Before new girl, baby mamas were. Why should we believe change is assured?

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By Alexander O. Onukwue | Festured image: VectorStock | Follow @inquizimedia on Facebook and Twitter

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