In agricultural genetic engineering, scientists found a way to introduce different genes into plants in order to enhance specific desired characteristics. According to the World Health Organization, the DNA of the foods are thus modified in a way that does not occur naturally.
The same process is being attempted with animals, which means that in the future the food on your plate may have been manipulated from meat and vegetables unknown to, and unintended by the Garden of Eden. These engineers are looking at being able to introduce specific genes from one plant to another, or even from plants to animals, and vice versa.
These genetically modified (or genetically-manipulated) products are being undertaken with an eye on yields that are superior to the natural ones. While there is an entire world of potential benefits in these Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), there are always hazards in these things that are unclear until it is too late.
Unlike science, politics, as a human activity, always has clearer lines of cause and consequence. It took a long time for this to become clear in Nigeria, but this year, the Nigerian voter finally confirmed his shadow to be his own: he voted, waited to see his vote counted, and learned the meaning of that count
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in full denial since 1999, also finally learned the meaning of cause and consequence: it was booted out of Abuja, a playpen it thought it owned.
As fragments of the PDP float in the wind, the All Progressives Congress (APC) which humbled it, has arrived with a swagger in Abuja. Just three months ago, with “Change” as its slogan, the party snatched the presidency and the legislature from the jaws of the PDP dragon.
The party has been in power now for just one week, and we are about to find out what it knows about cause and consequence.
Within days, its principal figures: President Muhammadu Buhari and my friend, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, declared their assets. In a manner of speaking, of course.
It is unclear why, but both men reportedly declared their assets in the Goodluck Jonathan style: secretly. A clarification has been made that those declarations will be made public in due course.
The problem is that, in the court of cause and consequence, “due course” can be an expensive error. Nigerians were not schooled to expect the qualifier of “due course” of this administration; a questionable strategy because it suggests the leaders have something to hide. Why not just wait until you are ready to declare publicly?
The point here is that it is often not what you do: it is how you do it. In this day of “change”, let it be clear that the citizens who waited in the sun and the dark to make political personnel change possible are unwilling to accept that simple substantive change is negotiable.
The new administration, it is understood, is still putting on its shoes. That is understandable, and forgivable, but there are some things that are not.
Among them: By the time you read this, one Bukola Saraki may have been anointed by the APC to lead the federal legislature.
That would be a self-inflicted injury, and here is my prediction: the moment the former governor of Kwara State is called President of the Senate for the first time is when APC begins to bleed to death.
Who leads the Senate has been a tortuous subject within the party since the election, partly because it is the nation’s third most powerful political office, but mostly because people nearly always mistake the planting season for the harvest.
For those who do not know Saraki of the wealthy and influential family of Kwara State, here is his bio in two small paragraphs. He enjoyed two terms as governor of that state beginning in 2003. In 2011, he became a Senator in the tradition of governors of the PDP converting themselves to membership of the Senate after two terms as governor.
When he left Kwara, it was not to the cheers of the people. On the contrary, he was jeered by many who were relieved he was gone. They cited his lukewarm performance, high-handedness and various allegations of corruption against him. As terrible as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is at fighting corruption, it is notable that Saraki is one of the few former governors in the last four years it has had any reason to have a hostile conversation with.
Saraki has also made it clear he doesn’t think highly of the cause of “change”, famously disrespecting the idea of declaration of assets. No particular surprise there, but add to it the Presidency of the Senate and we are talking of an institutional lacuna: where in his political heart will be the support for change?
This is where the powerful but historically-insensitive sections of the party who support his ambition, including party chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, come into focus. On whose side are they: the Nigerians who voted for change, or the PDP half of the APC which delights in the status quo?
This is not a complicated equation: should APC enthrone Saraki as President of the Senate, it will confirm that its campaign slogan was cosmetic, and I know it will pay for that.
Should APC hand the Senate to Saraki, it will confirm that its concept of power change was only from the PDP to the APC, and that it has obtained that power through false advertising.
I know Saraki has yet to be convicted of the many corruption charges against him. But then, we have barely emerged from the “stealing is not corruption” era, and no questions have yet been asked of any of that era. If APC enthrones Saraki ahead of such an enquiry, that would be confirmation that it has no intention of respecting the wishes of Nigerians to be governed by people of character.
Let us remember: As rotten as the PDP was, in just its first eight years-despite a lack of commitment to fighting corruption-it was embarrassed by having several Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House being kicked out office on corruption issues: Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Adolphus Wabara, Salisu Buhari, Patricia Etteh and Dimeji Bankole.
Ordinarily, in PDP-era Nigeria, nothing that Saraki has been accused of would be pivotal in any official political calculations. But these hours are of great significance to the “change” movement, and as with assets declaration, APC’s appointment of a man who is popularly seen to be tainted would suggest genetic mutation of the political kind that may be very expensive.
If the APC wants the electorate to continue to have confidence in the party, it must resist from the beginning this kind of arrogance-or stupidity-knowing that it led to the suicide of the PDP.
Early last week, it was reported that the APC’s National Working Committee had determined that candidates for the Senate presidency must have no subsisting corruption charges or cases.
Very bright idea.