If you are a keen observer of political developments of Edo and (to some extent), Ondo states, you would have come to two or three painful realisations lately. The first is that politicians in Nigerians are not guided by any idea or principle. Nigerian politics is a jungle where ego and influence peddlers have a field day operating without any rules guiding their trade. We shall return to this point later.
The second thing you should have noticed from these shenanigans is that contrary to the tenets of democracy, the people are not in the contemplation of any of the parties shamelessly tearing each other apart in this drama. Unlike what you would also expect, this particular fight is not so much about the political parties. It is majorly about personal aggrandisement, revenge and the restoration of bruised and diminished hitherto overblown egos.
In addition, these fracases, whose seeds were planted in Edo, Ondo and I bet so many other states in Nigeria over the best part of the last four years, also reveal the quality and motive of leadership as well as why Nigeria remains in its underdeveloped state in spite of all its endowments. If people cannot run parties without suppressing their egos and personal preferences from overruning the common good, you can only imagine the damage they would do to states or even a country of 200 million people.
A country cannot grow beyond the visions of its leaders. And in constitutional democracies, such visions are aggregated in the philosophies of political parties. These policies guide the daily operations of governments elected on the platforms of these political parties. But as the good book says, when the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do? Party leaders in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic do not even pretend to nurture principles other than self-aggrandisement and the promotion of the interests of those currently in power. And when people are so possessed by self, all other interests including those of the party, its members and the generality of the people are subsumed.
Take the suspended National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, who hitherto pretended to be the conscience of party politics in Nigeria for example. After many years as a labour leader, Oshiomhole ventured into politics and became Governor of Edo State, he thereafter moved on to his current position as the APC chairman. But that was not before he ensured that he decided his successor in Edo State.
This itself was the beginning of the unravelling of the real Oshiomhole. His patent preference for the candidacy of Godwin Obaseki over other aspirants in the APC and the extent he went about to promote the same while sitting as governor cannot pass the true test of democracy.
However, the most injurious dent the party leader would inflict on the sparkling image he always wanted Nigerians to have of him is the flip-flops about Obaseki and his newly adopted protégé, Osagie Ize-Iyamu. After scaling through the party primary, he said so much about the good person Obaseki is. At one campaign rally, he was quoted as describing party candidate as in the following words: “God knows that Godwin comes from a large family in the Bini Kingdom, he went to school, he finished his secondary school, he went to University of Ibadan, he finished, there were no issues. He finished in flying colours. He went to the U.S., he did his Masters, he came back home, started helping people to set up businesses, he helped to manage businesses; he helped to set up many banks including several second-generation banks.” He even advocated that a building in the Government House should be named after Obaseki!
Four years later, Oshiomhole is singing new songs about these same qualifications that he literally pitched as the ideal for public office in Nigeria. So, the question to ask is this: when did he come to the knowledge of the discrepancies for which the APC disqualified Obaseki? Did Oshiomhole and his supporters overlook these defects in 2016 just to ensure that their candidate carried the day, in which case they would be complicit in this felony?
That is not all there is to the chairman’s hypocrisy. Speaking about Ize-Iyamu, who has emerged candidate of the APC in the upcoming governorship election in 2016, he said many unprintable words. At the event where he painted Obaseki in glowing colours, he said the following about his latest friend.
Hear him: “… I don’t see Ize-Iyamu being able to say that. In 2007, check the records, Ize-Iyamu was hiding from the EFCC…If you have to look at Godwin and his credentials and you look at a man whose only work, by his CV, was a student and rusticated for two years, he read law but he is not a barrister. That is his foundation. I never gave him government job. Lucky Igbinedion’s mother was reported to have slapped Ize-Iyamu for misleading her son. He tried it with me, but we kept him away. Nothing near government circle. No access to public funds. Look at the road to his house, in our books, was dual carriage way. They took the money, constructed the road to his house and stopped…!”
This same man, portrayed as a serial criminal and charlatan is the one for whose sake Oshiomhole organised to send yesterday anointed out of the APC. It is on behalf of Ize-Iyamu that he would go around the 18 Local Government Areas of Edo State campaigning towards the September elections. So, where is principle, where is the love for the people, where is the dignity of this former labour leader? Do they think the people are fools?
The situation is the same with the Peoples Democratic Party, which has now opened its doors to Obaseki at the detriment of loyal party men who wanted to contest elections. Until a couple of weeks back, the PDP saw nothing good in Obaseki’s administration. In fact, in November 2019, its chairman, Dan Orbih, took the administration to the cleaners for its inefficiencies. Today, the same man is the candidate for which the PDP risks an internal crisis but does the party care? The answer is No! It can take a man who disabled the state House of Assembly by working with only nine of 24 members! Just like the APC, what is paramount at the moment is winning the election and the PDP already sees itself at an advantage with an incumbent in its fold.
It however would be making a mistake to rest on its oars since the APC is also desperate for victory. In the next few weeks therefore, both parties will deploy all sorts of tactics, orthodox, unorthodox and underhanded. They will employ, misuse and further weaken institutions of the state and every other institution possible will come under the manipulation of the powers that be, just so that their egos are properly fed.
I have always argued that politics anywhere in the world is about interests. This is why former French leader, Charles De Gaulle, would say something like “politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians” but there is something spectacular about the Nigerian politician.
While a normal society is expected to learn lessons from past mistakes, these ego trips are the reason the Nigerian political elite do not take lessons. So, whether the APC once lost Zamfara, Rivers, Bayelsa and any other number of states due to failure to obey their own rules, they will travel the same heedless route and lose many more states because some people have a point to prove. Just as the PDP, which lost the leadership of the country for taking Nigerians for granted, does not still get the point.
However, the people are the major culprit in the incorrigibility of the Nigerian politician. Making heroes of politicians caught pants down at deception is an indulgence that Nigerians must quickly wean themselves of. Altering the perception of Nigerians that the politician rather than themselves holds the power in this democratic experiment is a task that everyone who has a political conscience must voluntarily take on henceforth. If you let them, the present crop of political actors would with their avarice and appetite for selfishness drown this country.
Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun
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