Tag Archives: Politics

13 Takeways from House of Cards- Season 5

Spoiler alert! If you are a House of Cards stan like me and haven’t watched season 5 of House of Cards, check other blog posts that might interest you, please.

House-Of-Cards-Staffel-3-300x300.jpg

Here we come, America!

So the anticipated intensity of the new season was justified. The campaigns were in top gear at the end of season 4 and Frank’s re-election was in the balance. Conway was not slowing down. Without further ado, here are the 13 points I took note of in the new season.

  • Fourth Wall debuts: Right from the first scene, we’ve been introduced to the Fourth Wall by Frank. That was actually my 1st time of seeing a movie with a fourth wall. Since then, the fourth wall has been exclusive to Frank Underwood. Through it, he dropped his dope quotes, stared at us and carried us along. Alas! The director has had enough of its monopoly. Claire made her debut with the fourth wall in this season, although Frank still dominated it. Also, when Frank was being sworn in and made the real estate and location analogy to the Fourth Wall, Mark Usher waved at
  • Sex & more sex: Sex and politics isn’t exactly abnormal. It oiled Frank and Zoey’s relationship. This season though, it went a step up. By more sex scenes, I meant explicit scenes. While season 1 had three sex scenes; seasons 2 and 3 had 3 scenes apiece while season 4 had just one scene. However, Season 5 had a whooping 5 sex scenes.
  • Homosexuality: This aspect of Frank’s life has been alluded to in previous seasons. It usually came up in discussions. In this season though, Frank damned everything and went for his ‘grandfather’s’ mouth. Why the creator of HoC had to portray him as  is not still clear to me. It had no bearing on the storyline.
  • Where are you, Remy & Jackie?: I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought these two would have made impact in Season 5. Remy being a lobbyist (even though he claimed to have retired from lobbying, I didn’t believe him for a second. Jackie also laughed at his phantom retirement) and being his role in the ending of season 4, coupled with his past relationship with Frank, my expectations were justified. Jackie, having done Frank’s bidding for long, turned against him in the last part of Season 4. She played prominent roles leading up to Frank’s ascension to the Oval Office. So, it came as a surprise when she didn’t even get screen time. Maybe they rode off into the sunset as their last scene together showed.
  • Power and not letting it go:

“And if you think it was hard getting here, you’re beginning to understand what I’m willing to do to stay”- President Frank Underwood S05E09.

Hasn’t this been the theme of the show? Yeah. This time though, it’s two-pronged-Frank going against his wife and Claire building her own base.  We saw what Frank was willing to do to get and keep it. With MacAllan, behind the computer monitoring and shaping voters’ decisions, it wasn’t impossible to achieve this. This isn’t even unexpected. However, this theme was reinforced when Claire was Acting President. Having tasted power for a few days, she wasn’t gonna let go. Ambitious and independent as ever, she organised her own team, much to the disapproval of Frank. After Frank’s theatrics at the hearing and facing the possibility of becoming president, she put in motion acts to stamp her ownership of the White House- moved Frank out of the House, got rid of Seth Grayson (who was surprisingly silent this season) and pushed Harvey out.

Screenshot (2)

Like Claire, like Cersei

PS: Was I the only one who noticed the similarity between Claire’s dress on her inauguration as Ag President and Cersei Lannister’s dress on her crowning as queen in Game of Thrones?

  • Entry of Mark Usher and Ms Jane Davies: A Republican, Usher came late to the party as campaign manager; but not too late to make a difference. He brought experience and connections to the campaign. The first feature I noticed about him was his calm mien and confidence. His confidence is quite infectious. Not one to take nonsense and condescension, he clashed with Conway as the season rolled on. Still being a Republican, he crossed over to work with the Underwoods due to his pragmatism. He was the only one who really threatened Doug’s relationship with the Underwoods. A good friend of Cathy’s, Davies looks harmless and delusional. But is there any harmless person in DC? She is the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Tapping into the crisis of the missing truck, she showed what she was capable of. Both of them have a history though.
  • Tom’s death: A character that oozed smartness and intelligence, I was surprised by his actions which led to his death. How dared he threaten the Underwoods? That was foolish. People lost their lives for less. Did he mistake Claire’s seeming love for him for weakness? Dude should have asked Adam Galloway. Maybe he was just overconfident- or how could one explain his act with the tour guide? If there’s any consolation, he went out hard.
  • Behind the Social Media scenes: Conway really gave Frank a run for his money. He seemed like the real deal. But behind the scenes, he really is an arrogant and entitled prick. Even though he showed glimpses of this in Season 4, it was full blown in Season 5. This led to the sympathetic viewers from the previous season to hating him. His condescending disposition to General Brockhart was irritating. His actions while in the military when brought to fore showed some deep rooted fears and anxiety. It might be linked to PTSD though.
  • As loyal as a Doug: If you thought the highest act of loyalty was displayed when he murdered Rachel, I’ve got news for you. Doug would do stuff that would jeopardize his career for Frank. From being the fall guy during the Xander Feng- campaign funding investigation in season 2 to illegally moving Frank to the top of the donor list, Doug was going to do anything for his boss. In season 5 he accepted, without hesitation, to claim he killed Zoey Barnes. How loyal can that be?
  • Frank and Claire can never go back to how they were: From

“I love that woman… I love her more than sharks love blood”

  to

“If she doesn’t pardon me, I’ll kill her”

That’s quite a huge leap. A lot of water have passed under the bridge. As Frank doesn’t joke, this threat isn’t an empty one. To be factual though, their marriage was never going to remain the same after the stunt Claire pulled in Russia in Season 3. With Claire’s last words to the Fourth Wall, she’s willing to go after her husband.

  • Hammerschmidt is never giving up: His article at the end of Season 4 set the tone for what to expect in Season 5. And he’s not stopping till he finds answers to his questions, not even if he gets assaulted in the process. This season though, he showed his will by going against The Washington Herald’s ethics- through a proxy, he floated a story he believed was right but had no source. The man has been quite busy you know!
  • The Macallan’s Knot: Without Aidan’s help, the race for the White House might have been over for the Underwoods before it even got started. Even though it seemed he was going against his beliefs and thoughts, he got the jobs done anyway. In the middle of it all, he fled the country- Snowden style. It wasn’t surprising that he went to Petrov’s Russia. Being a plethora of The Underwoods Secrets, he became a bargaining chip for Petrov. However, his escape from Russia back to the US befuddled my mind. It seemed he just jumped on the available plane back home. Also, his killing in his hotel room left more unanswered questions than answered ones. Obviously, Davies does more than International Trade.
  • The Underwoods are not leaving anytime soon:

“It’s no longer about who lives in the White House; it’s about who owns the White House” – Frank Underwood, S05E13.

If you watched the trailer, you probably would have had an idea. What you didn’t know was the schematics he was going to use. Frank wants to be Raymond Tusk 2.0- a godfather of some sort. He wants to have the kind of influence Tusk had while insulating himself from it all. Thus, he created the confusion all along- such as feeding information to Hammerschmidt anonymously. He admitted he has had the bull’s-eye on his back for so long. Giving up his Executive Privilege to appear at the Judiciary Committee was intentional too, although his advisers saw it as a stupid move.

Frank isn’t done with DC yet!

Image: Google Images

Advertisements

Social Media: Promises & Pains.

The 2015 elections have come and gone. But events that happened during the campaigns still make me think of how far we’ve gone. An aspect of the campaign that was rampantly used was the massive use of the social media. This is the first time that the virtual world would have a great influence on our electoral process. Even politicians that do not know anything about the internet created social media profiles.

image

And why not?

With a sizeable number of the population classified as youths and a large percentage of such found on the internet, it was only logical to take the campaigns to their doorsteps, literally. For a few years now, the social media have influenced politics in the world (side eye to the Arab Spring). Here at home, the #OccupyNigeria protests can be referenced. The social media has also been used for meritorious and charitable causes. Funds have been generated via Twitter for those with medical and social needs.
With all these promises come side effects. During the electoral processes, the heavy use of the social media gave way for the use of propaganda. While propaganda isn’t a bad concept on its own, the use of same for misinformation evokes anger in me. Because of the wide reach of the internet, a tweet made in the corner of my mosquito-infested room in Iresa-Adu village in Oyo state can influence the thought process and decision of someone in her mansion in Eket, Akwa Ibom. Such is the power of the social media. This is in sharp contrast with the propaganda peddled at newspaper joints. That one is localized.
Then, there are the overlords. This is quite common on Twitter. These are tweeps with demagogic tendencies. During the 2015 electoral processes, they had minions who nod in approval to whatever they tweet.

image

et tu, Nasir?

Their influence might be derived from their follower count (which runs into several thousands), number of tweets (usually into tens/hundreds of thousands), sense of humour et al. These are the ones that the politicians use in achieving their aims. Their ability to create trending topics make them useful tools for politicians.

Another source of misinformation today is because of the proliferation of blogs. Anyone, sane or not, with internet access is able to open a blog and fuelled by the quest for AdSense money, traffic must be generated at any cost, even on a platter of integrity. Thus, outrageous news items are formulated. My ‘homemade’ antidote to this is to before reading a news item check the source- a funny name & it’s off my reading list. The politicians now use the social media to control the narratives, so as to condition the mind of the people towards a direction. Thus, claims and rebuttals are norms here. It’s now difficult to trust the news I read online now. Or maybe my standards are high- justifiably so. If you’re in the business of informing people, you hold the power to shape their mindset.

image

1- Armoured tank?? 2- Must be another Lagos.

Oh heck! You can create a mass hysteria. Thus, if I’m going to give you that power, it has to be deserved.

Looking for credible news in the myriad of blogs now seems like “looking for a needle in a haystack”. How do you find it?- Bring a damn magnet!

Social Media Bill?

image

Problem is... @SegunObasanjo is a parody account.

Hakeem.

2015 Elections: The Days After.

So, my country has concluded its much anticipated elections- hopefully, there’ll be no rerun. Now, our lives will be restored to default settings. The past few months have seen our radios & TVs taken over by campaign jingles & political talks, the social media was on lockdown for campaign (the effectiveness of the social media in determining the electoral activities should be studied)- hashtags were a normal feature on Twitter. In fact, discussions followed the route of politics. Every action of the government was seen through the prism of currying favour from the electorates. Our national life was conditioned in a particular way.
The campaign period highlighted some factors that were absent in previous electoral campaigns. Even before the elections, the use of card readers and PVCs by the electoral umpire (which was a first actually) had caused the heating up of the polity. Concerns were raised on the feasibility and reliability of its use. Also, the campaigns for this election made optimal use of the social media. With the youth comprising the highest number of voters and many of them on the social media, it was commonsense that discourse on these platforms would be political. Twitter was the hardest hit. Hashtags sought to outdo one another. The election really showed the true colours of some. Some turned erstwhile friends to foes and some bridges were burnt. Also, a factor that contributed to the loss of GEJ at the polls stems from the acts of those whose duty it was to make friends for him making enemies instead *side eye to Omokri, Okupe & FFK*.

image

Swaggu!

Like I discussed here, the campaigns were about mudslinging than issues. A casualty of this campaign was debate. In a society like ours where electoral choices are coloured by emotions, debates could only be of little significance. Interestingly, the candidates who dodge debates have always gone ahead to win the election -2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015. The elections also tested how unified we are as a nation. Many people saw the election as one between the South and North. Some saw it as an election between Christians and Muslims. The First Lady didn’t help matters as she disparaged the Northern part of the country. The Vice President, Namadi Sambo also referred to APC as a christian-dominated-party. The voting patterns also reflected this. Except that of the South West. There are positives though (even from the voting patterns). A christian candidate won in Niger state, a state dominated by Muslims. Also, an Igbo man won a seat in the House of Representatives in Lagos, a Yoruba land. The gubernatorial election in Lagos also caused some ripples.

image

The utterances by the Oba to drown non-indigenes who do not vote for his candidate and the obvious ethnic-based campaign undertaken by the PDP are the major highlights.
Now that the campaign grounds are empty and ballot boxes returned to the stores, the incoming administration has to hit the ground running. There’s plenty of work to be done. The expectations are high; thus, there’s no room for disappointment. This election is a special one in the sense that it’s the first time since our return to civil rule that the incumbent would be defeated at the federal level. APC, a conglomerate of opposition parties, now has the majority seats in the legislature, controls the executive arm and controls the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Now, this is a kinda holistic approach to governance. The new government need to arrange a team of world-beaters with a sense of duty and patriotism. That’s the first step to a working Nigeria. With a new party at the helm, Nigerians hope to see a different approach to issues. All the campaign promises and party manifesto need to be lived up to. We really need some catching up to do. In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for a developing nation to still be grappling with electricity generation and distribution.

image

Expectations hitting the ceiling.

The issue of electricity is one that cuts across all political, tribal and economic divides. Tackle this and many things will fall in place. It’s like a domino. One issue that contributed to PDP’s loss at the polls is the handling of the nation’s security vis-à-vis insurgency. One of the main goals of government is provision of security. Failure in this will consume the successes recorded in other sectors. People need to feel safe. In fact, it’s second on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Thus, the incoming government should know its importance.
The economy, the other half of the goals of government needs a serious attention. The outgoing government prided on Nigeria being the biggest economy on the continent. The irony is that many citizens disagree with that. The claim is seen as a paper tiger achievement. Only a few benefit from the economy. Thus, the new government has to formulate policies that affect the majority positively.

image

Many people believe that the welfarist inclination of Buhari will ensure this. Well, there’s only one way to find out.
Conclusively, the major beneficiary of this election results is the Nigerian people. Many now have a renewed confidence in the power of the ballot. They believe they now have a say in who leads them. Whether change or continuity, elected officials now know they have to earn their position. Though there is still plenty room for improvement, the umpire, INEC, under Prof Attahiru Jega deserve some praise. Except for some skirmishes in some states, the election was adjudged free and credible. If the new government also messes up, the proverbial cane used on the iyale is lying patiently in the ceiling.

Photo credits: TwitterNG

Hakeem.

The Genius, Tinubu

So this morning, the Financial Times ran a headline hailing Tinubu as being the brain behind Jonathan’s loss at the polls. They called him the Nigerian Machiavelli. Also, when General Buhari collected his Certificate of Return from INEC affirming his victory, he mentioned Tinubu during his acknowledgement. So, who is this man? A man the opposition (how tables turn!) fears as much as they do Buhari.

image

He has been hailed as a master strategist. A man whose street cred is on fleek. Not many politician can boast o such- probably his protégé, Aregbesola. This man changed the face of opposition politics in Nigeria. But how did he do it? His emergence as the face of opposition proves that quality thumps quantity.

image

Jagaban Borgu!

Regional politics still plays a huge role in Nigeria’s political affairs. After the 1999 elections, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) controlled the South Western region of the country the All Peoples Party (APP) controlled the Northern region while PDP controlled the federal. During the 2003 elections, AD fell for Obasanjo’s schemes and lost all their states except Lagos controlled by Tinubu. This marked the incursion of PDP into the southwest and subsequent demise of AD. This placed Tinubu and Obasanjo on a collision course. With just one state under his control, Tinubu forged on. In the heat of this, the President suspended the monthly allocation to the state- a move capable of wrecking the state. But that only served as a catalyst for building a self-sustaining Lagos. If Tinubu had fallen for Obasanjo’s antics, there might have been no credible opposition in Nigeria.

image

The state’s IGR went from hundreds million naira to tens of billions of naira. Tinubu held onto Lagos as if his life depended on it- and indeed his political life does. With the demise of AD, the Jagaban formed the Action Congress. It was on this platform that his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Babatunde Fashola, a relatively unknown man won the governorship election. The ascension of ‘Tunde Fashola to the Government House really was a masterstroke. He was hiterto unknown in the political scene but he performed to the extent that he was adjudged to be the best governor in the country and he became a reference point for performance.
During the 2011 elections, the party leveraged on Fashola’s popularity and clawed back the South Western states from the PDP, save for Ondo state. In all these, Tinubu’s handwriting was written on the party’s victory at the polls. Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states became ACN states. With this, the ACN was positioned as the major opposition party in he country. Though the party presented a candidate for the presidential election, it was so obvious that he was going to lose. The priority wasn’t the control of Abuja but taking over states in the region first. That would then serve as a launchpad for ‘assaulting’ the presidency.
Insatiable as ever, the next action is to drop the tag of ‘opposition leader’ & gun for the top. This isn’t going to be an easy task. The ruling party, PDP had been in power since the country’s return to civil rule and thus, has solid and widespread party structures. Heck! They paraded themselves as the biggest party on the continent. To defeat this giant, coalitions has to be formed. There has to be a united front to confront the ruling party. Hence, the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC). A coalition of 3 parties- ACN, CPC and a faction of APGA. CPC was a party formed by General Muhammadu Buhari to advance his presidential ambition. Thus, there wasn’t any solid structure. The party was run basically on Buhari’s goodwill and popularity. The faction of APGA that joined the coalition was the one controlled by the Imo state governor. So, the main party in the coalition was still the ACN, under Tinubu’s tutelage. In fact, ACN’s party symbol was adopted as the new party’s symbol. The party presented Gen Buhari as its presidential candidate. Even though, he had contested and lost 3 times, General Buhari was still the party’s best shot at the presidency. He was a cult figure. Even during his loss in previous elections, there were some states he had under control. States that mattered in elections as they had huge population- Kano, Kaduna and Katsina. I daresay no politician in Nigeria has the appeal of Buhari. With Buhari as a front for the party and Tinubu pulling the strings in the background, the party launched a robust and intimidating campaign. Social media was on lock down, the street was active, the jingles on the radio and television were creative and running. Buhari was packaged as a brand- a movement. The campaign presented Buhari in a way he hadn’t been presented before. The party also capitalised on the ruling party’s misgivings. Even though, the people’s votes determined the ultimate winner, Bola Tinubu provided the platform. And then, on the last day of March, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner.
One fact I find funny is that Tinubu doesn’t hold a defined role in the party. He’s referred to as the national leader or party chieftain, yet his influence dwarfs that of the party chairman. The Lion of Bourdillon, as he’s called, finally became the face of the governing party after more than a decade of being that of the opposition. I don’t think there’s anyone that understands Nigeria’s political workings like him. It’s even believed that he was behind the emergence of a relatively unknown Prof Yemi Osinbajo as the party’s vice presidential candidate. His emergence was really a well planned move as it swayed some undecided voters. Osinbajo was a commissioner during Tinubu’s time the governor. Tinubu is reputed give people opportunities. Fashola, Aregbesola, Osinbajo et al are people that had their first political bite under his tutelage. Loathe him or love him, even his greatest foe can’t deny his political mastery. With just one state under his control, he assiduously won back some states in the region before gunning for and winning the presidency. Even with that one state, he was really a thorn in the Federal Government’s flesh.

Meanwhile, this is my best pic from the celebratory pictures of Buhari’s victory. Her happiness is infections.

image

Hakeem.