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Merchants of Mischief By Joe Etokudor

They think they have it all – Money, Power, Guile, Charisma wits. And they even score high on the intelligent quotient scale. But it is always with a touch of evil, sly as a serpent, each fits the fiction writer’s created character of the much vilified villain. But they are the bad guys, the smooth operators with the staying power. The proverbial cat with nine lives or more like the bad coin that turns up with its two faces of lure and deception, once in a while. Unfortunately these seemingly harmless hypnotists, these masters of mesmerism are always underestimated by both their compatriots and the general public.

Therefore, they find it not too herculean on task to worn their way up the societal ladder, to the top rung of their chosen careers. Then they enact their crud missions often possessed by that sadistic survival instinct that cares little about what others feel, they merge with every changing season. Like chameleon with the balanced beauty, they play along. Easily, all too easily, they strike at that vulnerable historic moment, pre-planned by their ingenious evil minds. Betrayal and blackmail those are the tools of their trade. They care not a hoot about whose ox is gored. They are propelled by the Machiavellian motives of the end justifying the means.

Therefore, no obstacle is too high to scale. No price is too hard to pay. That is, as long as they are not the victims. Let millions of people perish, who nacres, as long as the arms dealer sell his hardware, and the dictator chooses the political drum beat. They thrive in murky water of controversy, and take public lampooning with a pinch of salt. To them, credibility and moral integrity can go to the dogs.

World history is replete with these visionary vampires, but suffices it to consider two prominent precedents. The first is Indonesians Suharto. He took early lesions in power manipulation from Java; his village located same 450km east of Jakarta. There, peasant farmers do the bidding of the village chief, in exchange for their so-called protection. He rode to power in a bloody coup d’état which claimed the lives of not less than half a million poor Indonesians. That was in 1965. But once in the saddle, he concentrated political power firmly in his hands. His thirty two-year maximum rule saw him turning Indonesia into his personal estate. And, it took on time Mantala Putra, into a billionaire, while his country men languished in penury. Long before stepping “aside” in May 1998, Suharto funded many political parties. Not less than one hundred sprang up over a period of four years. However, when the pendulum of power was not swinging his way, he fuelled sectarian riots between Christians and Muslims through paid provocateurs. Markets and towns were razed to ruble. But Suharto was not the one to blink an eye. Now you can road between the lines, and draw a parallel between Nigeria and Indonesia. If not, consider Augusto Pinochet Ugarte of Chile. When he over threw the elected Marxist, Salvador Allende, in September 1973, it was in a rain of bullets and blood. His seventeen year dictatorship, known to have modified Chile’s economy, left many of his opponents dead. Many were tortured, while others simply disappeared. But Pinochet was such a cunning military politician that when he orchestrated a 1980 constitutional referendum, it was cloaked in a garb of political legitimacy for his government for ten additional years.

He planned to take a lifetime seat in the senate. His lust for power knew no ends. That was until his recent disgrace and extradition. That is another political parallel with Nigeria call them names-Maradonas or evil geniuses, these merchants of mischief have their bags loaded with tireless tricks and conscienceless cash. Their warped world revolves within the orbits of their mad ambitions. They are the king makers to be worshipped in and out of power. But mind you, they are not only as ubiquitous as the air we breathe there are there in their numbers, from our homes through our places of work, and even of worship, planning their next moves. Who lured Adam, the Biblical first man, to eat the forbidden fruit and get “wiser”? To settle scores in the hot bed of politics. Deserving mention also is the recently withdrawn impeachment move against erstwhile president Olusegun Obasanjo, spear headed by the publicity – seeking errand boy and anti democrat, Arthur Nzeribe. Ex-Military President IBB and some faceless law makers have been fingered as behind the move. The subsequent aborted impeachment of senate president Bukola Soraki has served as another anti-climax to the unfolding drama of political theatrics.

All too well, the merchants of mischief have promoted politicking to the pedestal of popular governances. Our elected representatives are busy chasing shadows. They have abandoned their constitutional role of have providing for our basic needs for the pursuit of blackmail, betrayal and backstabbing. Never in our history have Nigerians witnessed such a tempest of anti people acts of sabotages, inter-ethnic clashes and religious disharmony. Now we know the real enemies of democracy. There is no doubt that ‘Maradonas’ of this world love their left dribbles of men and materials, applauded on by the gullible spectators. But soon, they dribble themselves out of the field of play by their drug induced idiosyncrasies. And then they lose all.


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