There is little doubt that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) botched the presidential and related federal elections. As perhaps has been the tradition, the current INEC and its commissioners failed both themselves and their nation. There were cases of late or lame starts, as there were of mixed-up materials, etc.
However, whatever it is, the elections have come and gone and with it some great and fancy names. One of the most prominent of the victims must be Dr. Bukola Saraki, the outgoing Senate President. Of all who lost the game, his is the most earth-shattering.
Yes, there are the Ajimobis, Kwankwasos, etc., but theirs were just the failure or collapse of individual or silo ambitions. Saraki’s fall in contrast is the fall of an empire. Unlike the rest of his class of electoral failures, Saraki was a true prince of power. He seats or used to seat atop the peacock throne his father fashioned and founded. For all practical purposes, it is not just that Saraki has fallen, it is that the Saraki dynasty is no more. In fact, her undertakers may have begun the sanitary duty of digging up her grave.
So, what happened? How did an able prince throw away the kingdom that was bequeathed to him? If we are asked, we did provide the following for an answer.
Saraki has been touted a great strategist and has a string of victories to show for it. It is reputed, for instance, that he is on good and great terms with virtually all the political and business haymakers of the many zones in the country. How he manages to juggle that is a mystery to many. This is especially so if one considered that many others – Awolowo for example and lately Tinubu – seem only able to relate to minions from some zones. That is, they have no real friends or allies in some regions. But Saraki transcends zones, with his alliance-building genius. Give or take, this is a great gift for a warrior, politician or prostitute.
Also, when Saraki happened upon the Senate as its President, he ran and conducted the Senate as an impresario. And when the matter came to it, he fought off the presidency and agents like they were rabid dogs. And he won.
Yet, despite all these, Saraki’s greatest undoing was the greatest pan-Nigerian show he put up or thought he did. It is believed that Saraki and Amaechi – former heads of Nigeria Governors’ Forum – were the arrowheads that saw off former President Goodluck Jonathan from actualising his reelection gambit.
So, why did Saraki prime up and join forces to sack Jonathan? It was the poorest strategic miscalculation of his life. He didn’t need to. The accusation and follow-up gang-up against Jonathan happened because Jonathan was a South-Southerner, a minority man. In other words, certain majority powers only saw Jonathan as a placeholder president. For being a South-Southerner, President Jonathan was, due to underlying forces, weak. We can’t go beyond this because of space, but we have explained this in many of our books.
Anyway, because of this underlying foundational circumstances of the Jonathan presidency, a lot of funny blokes, especially from the North-Central and the South-West, saw a chance to play the false hero. However, for the dominant factions of the ruling North, there was only one game, that Jonathan was a placeholder president and his place, the presidency “belongs to us.”
Whatever it is, we had to concede things to the North. They had the genius to sell the dummy to the South-West and North-Central that the project of rejecting Jonathan was a patriotic and historic one. [Please see the confessions of a Middle-Belter professor, who came too late to knowledge: The Ethnic Victory of 2015 and An Apology, By Moses E. Ochonu. https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2019/01/18/the-ethnic-victory-of-2015-and-an-apology-by-moses-e-ochonu/]
That is, people like Saraki were deceived or even fooled, there was a nation in peril to rescue. And that was the logic of his and others supposed enlistment into a phony rescue mission. But even if that was their first false step, the next was even more self-damning.
Now, in strategy, the iron lore is that you must start from the endgame, not the next move. And it is on record that Africans have a handle on the matter. For instance, to the Igbo, eje ana bu isi ije, loosely, winning the endgame is the beginner-game, in fact, the only game. Thus, no matter how decidedly urgent a next move is – say sacking Jonathan – in strategy, your first duty is to begin with the endgame, or not enlist at all.
And as a practiced strategist, that is, if he is one, Saraki should have known that, in all, coalitions begin – including the coalitions to sack Jonathan – in unity but end or endure in crises. The point is that, in all coalition-won wars, immediately the said war is over, the basis of the coalition collapses. This is an iron lore. So, in post-war engagements, rather than having a coalition of equals or pre-war winning ratios, a new hegemon emerges or attempts to emerge. And the fact of this is as ancient as Attic Greece, Thucydides, et al.
So, in strategic terms, there is nothing President Muhammadu Buhari did or didn’t do that is exotic. In other words, the isolation and weakening of Saraki were indicated. That he was pursued to the extent of being docked like a common criminal only showed the virulence of the dominant victorious party factions, aka the Buhari group.
However, this greed-is-good order of dominant factions have their checkmates. For instance, all the Saraki group needed to do was to borrow from the French and do a “force de frappe.” Force de frappe is a French strategic move on behalf of Europe, including Britain, to insist that the NATO/Western Alliance remain a rule-based order and that no [America] hegemon emerges. But Saraki, like a rookie prayer-warrior, trusted his nemesis too much. And that was just to prove he hated Jonathan the most, that he could play the false, even forged, hero.
What could Saraki have done? Well, it is not part of our brief to be consulting for him. So, let him reach out to his own retainers, if like Saul at the Witch of Endor’s, he is come to the end of his resources. In all, one advice we will profess is this. In life or in war, never so hate another, as Saraki did Jonathan, politically, that you will forsake being generous to yourself. All else is humour. Saraki Ronu.
And humpty-dumpty fell
The next greatest fall of all is that of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the rust common senator. This is especially so in terms of lessons. However, to understand what went wrong with Akpabio, we may have to recount a brief history.
Plus or minus, if Akpabio was not a lawyer, he would have been fitted for the career of a poet, a minor poet. Minor poets are those who fancy words so much that they are tripped by the sounds of words. But insistently, the minor poets miss out on the meaning of the words that bewitch them. So, rather than being guided by sense and reason, minor poets are led by the sounds and echoes of their voices. The danger is that, if a minor poets turns up a politician, as they sometimes do, his nation or state is doomed except he is stopped in his tracks. Hitler, we all may recall, was a minor and failed poet-artist who found solace in politics. And the rest is the uncommon history of World War II.
So, Akpabio dazzled a largely illiterate nation with words that sounded heroic but were in context empty, almost like Hitler did. And it is instructive Akpabio readily quoted the Nazis on Warsaw and other things! Anyway, he styled himself an uncommon senator and on the hour he turned coat, he baptised it an uncommon defection. With the press at his beck and call, he opened a media blitzkrieg on his home state and peoples of Akwa Ibom.
Fatedly, he declared his reelection bid as a memorandum on the governance of Udom Emmanuel, the sitting governor. Well, the results are now out. And the verdict of the people of Akwa Ibom is that Emmanuel is easily the greatest governor that the people of Akwa Ibom State has been blessed with.
In fact, in the words of a concerned citizen, Ben Orok, Governor Emmanuel has taken Akwa Ibom to the trajectory of a model state. It is not just about infrastructure and industries. Emmanuel is about giving an integrated vision of the parts reinforcing not just themselves, but the whole. In a sense, Emmanuel has corrected for what has been missing in the development models of Nigeria and much of Africa. It is the gaps we create by building infrastructure and not having them form a grid, a developmental grid. As Emmanuel himself would say, “electricity happens only when you have the grid at work. So, no matter how wide or far you wire, if you don’t have the grid, you can’t have electricity. As in electricity, so also it is in bringing light and development. It is a grid system. And that is what we are giving Akwa Ibom.’’ And to his words, Emmanuel is delivering, Orok concluded in held back smiles.