If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” –Isaac Newton (1675).
“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us” –Simon Donovan.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said no one becomes president without receiving a helping hand from other people. In order words, no one can make himself president/governor or even military head of state/dictator all by himself. Coups are not plotted single-handedly and dictators need fawning and consenting acolytes.
As perverse and run-down as democracy is, the people are still indispensable, if not for substance, at least for appearance. Their votes may be bought for a pittance; it may not even count in the final analysis for, like the dictator, Josef Stalin, posits, those who vote decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.
Nigeria, standing on the shoulders of infamous dictator-Giants like Stalin, has improved on this in that not any of those who vote or count the vote decides elections here again; at a point, those who recorded and announced the votes determined winners but these days, judges decide everything! Still, the facade and farcical show of democracy continues for whatever it is worth.
Virtually everyone aspiring to elective position ties the rope around the neck of their people; it is usually in deference to the wish, pull, push and shoving of their people that they throw their hat in the ring! Like Caesar, they harbour no ambition even if everyone can behold their gaze fixated on the throne!
Truth, however, is that hordes of people must work before a man can be elected president or governor, beginning with the inner caucus of trusted friends, political associates and family that will eventual transform into the kitchen cabinet, inner circle or power-behind-the-throne who will operate as “wole-wode” whether or not they hold appointive position in the new government.
“Wole-wode” refers to those who have unrestrained access, influence and power in any government. Such can do and undo; often, they operate above the law and can escape with blue murder. Most times they are sworn to oaths of allegiance (witness Okija) and or are joined by filial and conjugal obligations. Cabals are everywhere!
Then, there are those Shylock “traders” and “merchants” who provide the huge sums needed for electioneering campaigns. Election costs, especially in the presidential system that we operate, are prohibitive; candidates mostly rely on a coterie of financiers to raise the funds. Gone are the days when party membership cards and dues raised funds for the party. Those were the gone-by days of AG/UPN and Awolowo.
These days, party members expect their party to feed them, pick their bills and pay through the nose for them to show up at party activities, including electioneering campaigns. Otherwise, the party or candidate not able to foot these bills is described as not serious. Where the candidate or party is in office, the better and merrier! As they say, “Owo ilu l’a fi n s’oselu”! Beeni! “Owo Abu l’a fi n s’Abu l’alejo”! Incumbency factor in all of its ramifications!
These days, “deep pockets” act as investors who fund parties and candidates. In a process akin to how business proposals are analysed to sift the viable from the unviable, these political investors analyze the chances of parties and candidates to determine where to stake their money. It is hard-nosed business decisions, pure and simple; no sentiments of so-called patriotism, nationalism or public service/public interest go anywhere near. The common man and his interests can go to blazes. What is served here is business interest.
Candidates and parties know this. If they stick to principles and get worsted on the day of election, next time they will learn the bitter lesson of “Na principle we go chop?” No one will preach to them before they preach to themselves! You want to catch a monkey, behave like a monkey! You cannot beat them, join them! If you are in Rome, act like a Roman! Until you have the handle of the sword firmly in your hand, you dare not demand to know from the enemy the death that killed your father! If you do, your guess is as good as mine!
So, everyone is sucked into the vortex. Everyone plays ball. Like Ngige, a candidate may detest the Ubas of this world but still decide to play along; thinking, believing and plotting to break ranks and break lose after achieving his goal. Meanwhile, the cold-blooded investors are also busy calculating the heavy jackpot they will hit once their candidate wins the election. The negotiations and plots happen behind the scene unknown to the electorate; the wheeling and dealing usually take place at the nocturnal meetings that politicians are noted for.
Important as they are, political investors are not the only ones involved in the game and gambit of sponsoring candidates for election. We have the godfathers; the influence peddlers at home and in Abuja; we have all manner of cabals; traditional rulers; market men and women; the area fathers and area boys; the road transport union leaders (the ubiquitous “agberos”); labour leaders, and even students’ leaders many of who now hold office in perpetuity and have made our institutions of higher learning a permanent abode from where they go from one candidate to another raking in money.
In the event you did not know, religious leaders play a prominent role in our elections; their influence is promoted, in the main, by our unreasonable devotion to empty religion instead of godliness and the uncritical reading and understanding of scriptures. They will say all authority is ordained by God and we will swallow it hook-line-and-sinker. Then they will ask us to obey our leaders with unquestioning submission and we will nod sheepishly in acceptance. Prophecies and predictions travel before rigged elections to water the ground or come immediately after to legitimise daylight robberies.
Whereas, we should ask probing questions whose answers, ironically, are in the same scriptures! Why did God ordain authorities: Is it that they may eat His people like sand as He Himself bemoaned or that the poor should be made poorer and the rich, richer as He Himself lamented? Did God ordain authorities so they may oppress the people while the same God cursed the wicked and commanded that justice flow like a mighty river? Did God not say where the righteous bear rule, the people rejoice but where the wicked and unjust rule, the people groan?
Next time they tell you their hog-wash, trash them and their rubbish! Ask them God’s purpose for authorities. Scripture says God is God of plan and purpose. What did He Himself say are His wishes and thoughts for us: Good or evil, prosperity or poverty? Now, between President Paul Kigame of Rwanda and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who do you think better approximates God’s will/wish for His people? And you, who out of the two will you prefer? But, we digress!
Pastors, Imams, and Babalawos play important roles in our electioneering process. They offer prayers, see visions, hear voices, give advice or even take decisions for our leaders. Many candidates take their campaign posters to churches, mosques, ori-okes (prayer mountains), evil covens, babalawos and alfas before such items are released for public consumption. Even photographs to be used are prayed upon or incisions (gbeere) made on them or hanturu is done!
Sadly, this too has become a critical part of electioneering in our country, thus elevating spiritualists into very important stakeholders and pressure groups that impact, mostly negatively, on good governance and the performance in office of elected and or appointed office-holders.
Is there anyone who wants to contest election today that will not first count the cost of bribing electoral officers or factor in the logistics of having the security apparatuses and officials at his beck and call? In addition, you must raise a private army of rough-necks and election riggers; this is where the area boys and their area fathers come in handy and which is why “agberos” today live larger-than-life and command resources and influence that would make professors green with envy.
Can you be regarded as a serious contender if you cannot line up a horde of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, even where you are a lawyer yourself? These days, it is not even the law you know; the soundness of your case or the justness of your cause but who you know. You must have a “Mr. Fix-It” who knows the pathway of the Leviathan in the sea, who can trace the snake’s path on a rock and plot a bird’s graph in the air!
The “Me Lords” now really answer their name: They kill and they make alive! Their rigmaroles, shenanigans and abracadabra are carefully concealed in technicalities that rub Peter to pay Paul. No one is sure of his election victory these days until His Lordships have spoken!
Unfortunately, the people themselves complete the cycle of filth that our democracy has become. The rot is deep; it is, in fact, like miry clay from which escape is difficult, if not impossible. Our people have lost their sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Unlike in times past, they have lost every interest and hope in their capability to possess, influence or direct the electoral process towards their own betterment.
Office-holders are no longer the public servants they used to be but are now lords and masters over the people. Like biblical Esau, the people sold their birthright; but unlike Esau who later realised his folly and sought rectification with hot tears, the consciousness of our people is still dulled and arousing them from their slumber is a tall order. Every election cycle, they sell their votes for peanuts – and you cannot have your cake and eat it. Their relevance in the political process is thus reduced to next-to-nil.
They do not own the parties. They have no say or stake in its affairs. They contribute no funds to the electioneering process or running of the party. To make matters worse, they demand gratification at every turn before they perform their civic obligations. “Money for hand, back for ground”! Our politics now is “cash-and-carry”! Everything is monetized! Everyone seemingly has a price and at the right price, you get what you want.
Let the governor who did not spend billions of Naira before getting “elected” stand up and say so! Let any serious aspirant thinking he will spend anything less raise up his or her hand! Let anyone who has not experienced all or some of the shenanigans highlighted above stand up to be counted!
These are some of the fundamental problems militating against good governance in our land. To say anything contrary is to chase shadows and fight effects. What you must note is that those in office who are being accused today, also had accused those before them! And those who are accusing the incumbents of today will themselves be so accused in future if they are lucky enough to climb into the saddle! It is a game of musical chairs!
But we cannot do the same thing the same way over and over again and expect different outcomes! A governor’s problems and many headaches begin the very day he is elected into office! How? Why? Next week, God willing!
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Moon Not Sighted, Sultan Says Ramadan Ends On Saturday
Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has confirmed that this year’s Ramadan will come to and end on Saturday, 23rd of May, as moon for the new month was not sighted. This is according to a press statement signed by Professor Sambo Wali Junaidu, Chairman Advisory Committee on Religious… Read full story
Lagos Finalises Register- To- Open Guidelines, Set To Restart Economy ― Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State government has set the process of re-opening its economy in motion, with the rollout of Register-to-Open guidelines, saying the 4-page guidelines were the major part of the measures initiated to achieve phased re-opening of the state economy… Read full story
Buhari’s Executive Order Gives Financial Autonomy To State Legislature, Judiciary
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to both legislative and judicial arms of states. It was tagged Executive Order No 10 of 2020 according to a statement by Dr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the… Read full story
Reps Threaten To Prosecute MDAs Over Breach Of 2020 Budget
Following the submission of the revised 2020 budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari, the House of Reps on Friday warned that Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to desist from tampering with the 2020 budget. The Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara… Read full story
Ogun Govt Extends Lockdown By Another Week
Ogun State government has, yet again, extended the existing lockdown by another week. Gov Dapo Abiodun made this known while briefing journalists on Friday in Abeokuta. He maintained that the state was constrained to extend the lockdown for another week as it continued to record more cases of the Coronavirus… Read full story
Islamic Cleric Ordered To Return 16-Year-Old Girl He Married As 9th Wife In Ondo
An Islamic cleric in Odo State was on Friday, May 22, asked by a court to return a 16-year-old girl to her parents after he forced her into marrying him, thus becoming his ninth wife. The Islamic cleric, Alhaji Yusuf Lateef, was ordered by the Family Court based in Akure, the state capital, to return the secondary… Read full story
US Family Returns $1million Found On Street
A sheriff’s department in the US state of Virginia praised a family who returned two large mail bags they found in the middle of the road — filled with nearly $1 million in cash. Emily Schantz told local television station WTVR that her family was out driving when they ran over one of the bags… Read full story
COVID-19 Fears: Buhari Bars Sallah Visitors From Villa
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will be obeying the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar that all Muslims in the country should observe Eid-el-Fitr prayers at home. He also asked politicians, religious leaders, top government officials and children not to… Read full story
Chinese Medical Team Not In Nigeria To Treat Coronavirus Cases, Says CCECC
The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on Friday said the 15-man Chinese medical team has been carrying out its “assignment in Nigeria basically in an advisory role capacity and not treating coronavirus patients. In a statement released on the official Twitter handle of the company on Friday… Read full story
Nigerian Who Works As Nurse In UK Dies Of COVID-19 Because ‘He Was Not Given Adequate Protection’
The family of a Nigerian who works as a nurse who died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom have claimed he had not been given protective equipment and was trying to buy his own on eBay. Father-of-two, Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, 46, died on May 16 after spending five weeks on a ventilator at Boomfield Hospital… Read full story
Yoruba Ko’ya Set To Promote Food Production, Others In South-West
A pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yoruba Ko’ya Leadership and Training Foundation, on Friday, said it is resolved to propel knowledge-based entrepreneurship, food production, trading and vocational training among the younger generation and market men and women in the South-West geopolitical zone of the country… Read full story
History Of Abacha’s Theft Is Being Rewritten Before Our Eyes
In her historical fictional narrative titled “The Lost Sisterhood,” Danish-Canadian writer Anne Fortier quotes one of her characters as saying that “those who control the present can rewrite the past.” This is playing out right before us in what I called the curious posthumous deodorization of Abacha’s grand larceny in… Read full story
Trump Calls On Governors To Allow Places Of Worship To Open This Weekend
The United States President, Donald Trump, on Friday, demanded that states allow religious services to take place again this weekend, thus ending shutdowns that were part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Trump made the proclamation, which he phrased in the form of a verbal order, from the… Read full story