Nigeria is at a critical juncture. And we may need a few reminders in the closing stages of these electioneering campaigns. One of these reminders is that, nothing happens to any country that is not a reflection of the character and temperament of the politicians in that country. This is in sync with the saying that every country is its own laboratory of democracy. If you have observed keenly since the end of party primaries, you possibly have noticed what I call the emergence of blood -and- thunder politicians who believe only in “my way- or -the highway” kind of politics. For lack of a better word, they belong to what is called “seat-of-the-pant” politicians. These are men with little tolerance for tedium. They have no real agenda than to dominate other people. They bully free press, and threaten the media. They have temperamental cove and wear their hearts on their sleeves. They are autocrats in civilian camouflage.
Across the country, the unrestrained behaviour of some state Governors, perhaps poses the greatest threat to our democracy. This is what Robert Allan Caro, a renowned American journalist and author of many biographies of U.S. political figures wrote about such politicians: “What leaders do while they are trying to get power is not necessarily what they do after they have it”. It’s about the complexity of ambition, and the delusional and forgetfulness of some politicians that, in the end, there will be life after politics. It’s also about what power does. That’s why, to borrow a cliché, power is like a bikini: it reveals more than it can hide. It is also a warning to voters. As it’s expressed in pidgin English: Abeg, shine your eye oo”. It’s a warning for danger ahead. As Caro puts it, “No one can lead who does not first acquire power, and no leader can be great who does not know how to use power”. But here is the issue. The trouble, he says, “is that the combination of the two skills is rare. The temperament and behaviour of the ambitious, cynical player adept at amassing power is often at odds with those of the daring and imaginative visionary able to achieve great things with that power”. I have read Caro’s observation many times, and situating it to the context of Nigerian politicians, especially the ones strutting the political stage now, the message sinks in. One sad reality with few of the present crop of politicians is that, to paraphrase Caro, without a vision beyond their own advancement, they are almost paralyzed once the goal of acquiring power has been achieved. For me, few examples suffice. I know a sitting Governor (name withheld) in one of the South East states, who was once a member of my Church. In November 2011, he came to our Annual Convention in Lagos. He was then a Deputy Governor of his state. He came with a sad story to tell. It was a story that touched everyone’s heart. It was how his boss had mistreated him. He compared his travails in the hands of the then Governor to a cataleptic: he could not speak, he was not assigned any ‘useful’ function other than attending weddings and funerals on behalf of the state. He said he suffered pain, but could not complain publicly to avoid being impeached by the state legislature at the instigation of the Governor.
That was the summary of the difficulties he faced. We all stood up in fervent supplication to God to see him through. Our pastor prophesied to him, that against all adverse circumstances that he would prevail, and become Governor, even against the wishes of his boss, the Governor. It came to pass. This man was elected Governor in 2015, and is almost completing his second term, and may become Senator next year. You know what? Few months after he became Governor, he left the church. Reports have it that he no longer takes the pastor’s phone calls. He has also become intolerant of opposition parties in his state, banned other parties other than his own from campaigning in the state. This is in spite of the order of the Inspector General of Police and the National Security Adviser to the President, that no Governor has the power to stop other parties from holding rallies in their states. This governor has turned the state security outfit against all perceived political enemies. His achievement in infrastructure notwithstanding, he is now not only worse than his predecessor, but is as unteachable and horrible as King Rehoboam, the successor of his father, King Solomon. In Rivers, Zamfara, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Nasarawa states, among other states, the governors are playing God. Some of them have reportedly armed thugs to unleash attacks on political opponents. The case of Rivers, Kaduna and Kogi states, is unacceptable, pure political rascality never seen in a democratic dispensation. We don’t need a vindictive, vengeful leaders who want to bend people to their will. That is what power without restraint does. That’s what you get when a leader feels he has acquired enough power, and does not need anybody anymore. With a war chest amassed from state resources, who can stop these desperate politicians from turning the forthcoming elections into “a do-or-die” affair? Having a larger end of winning election at all cost should not be more important than allowing voters decide who they want to vote for.
After his below performance at Chatham House, London, last week, the presidential candidate of APC , Bola Ahmed Tinubu reportedly had a meeting with his supporters in the United Kingdom. Nothing is wrong with that. But everything is wrong with what he said with his mouth at that meeting. It could be a dress rehearsal of what to expect in the coming elections, especially the presidential poll slated for February 25. In a video that went viral, Tinubu was heard telling them to grab and snatch power at all cost. “Power”, he said “is not going to be served in a restaurant. It’s not served a la carte. “At all cost, fight for it, grab it, snatch it, and run with it”.
In his many years in politics, Tinubu, no doubt, has done some wonderful things, and he has done some terrible things as well. Perhaps they all came from the same place. But this “grab it at all cost and run with it”, may go down as the deepest cut of all. This suggests violence. It runs against the repeated assurances of President Buhari to bequeath a credible, fair and transparent electoral process in the country, and the commitment of the electoral umpire, INEC to conduct a free and credible poll next year. When you add this over the top comments, and Tinubu’s recent false claim that INEC has not assured APC of its commitment to the use of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), you can begin to see through the soul of a desperate politician, who may not believe in a free and fair election. The national chairman of the party, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, has spoken in the same vein as Tinubu not long ago regarding the use of BVAS for elections. And you ask: Is Tinubu and APC afraid of BVAs, and why? I have had cause on this page, September 6, 2022, to warn about Tinubu and the danger his desperation could pose to the country. “His pride”, I had cautioned, “is always stronger than the recognition of his Achilles heel. He views admitting the truth as a sign of weakness. His understanding of what leadership entails in turbulent times is wrapped around self entitlement (Emi lokan). Moreover, he sees political opponents as no equal. He doesn’t see the presidency as a duty to be done. For him, it’s a prize to be won”.
How do you situate a man who claims to be a “kingmaker”, and boasted that he made Buhari President, and now wants to be “king”? How do you describe a man whose handlers stole another man’s portrait to prove his youth in a biographical documentary and refused to apologise. No doubt, biography is a tool for understanding power: how it is acquired and how it is used. But it frowns at its raw, unadorned, desperate essence to achieve political end. That has revealed a key element of a faked genius, desperate to grab power by all means. Here is a man who told ThisDay, the Sunday newspaper (page 9) in an interview conducted by Ayo Arowolo on April 13, 1997, that he did not believe in “one Nigeria”. This is what prophet Daniel said (Daniel Chapter 11:25), “this King of the South will prepare himself for the war with an exceedingly large and mighty army, but it shall not stand”. Recall that before he became a political turncoat, one irascible and conceited Chief Femi Fani-Kayode , reminded of what many of us didn’t know about the APC presidential candidate. Has FFK forgotten so soon? In a press conference recorded by Channels Television some years ago, the former Aviation Minister, and now a representative of the APC presidential council, said: “credible information at our disposal indicates that Sen. Tinubu has perfected plans to come to power through the backdoor. He also alleged that Tinubu compelled Prof Yemi Osinbajo to swear to an oath that after six months, Prof Osinbajo will resign for him Tinubu to be nominated as his replacement, should the party wins the 2015 presidential election”. He called it a “wicked plot, with the ultimate objective to ensure that Tinubu becomes President for “his own selfish reasons”. “Our prayer is that God will save Nigeria from desperate politicians”, he said. He urged Buhari to “watch his back”. With this man part of the APC campaign team, it may have become appropriate now to urge Tinubu to be wary of FFK.