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Politics As A Game Of Chance
Published Jul 23, 2022 IN Column, THE REALITIES,
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A CCORDING to the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; “Life’s battles do not always go to the faster or stronger man, soon or late, the man who wins is the one who thinks he can”. This was after his many attempts at becoming the president of Nigeria without success.

The recently concluded governorship election in Osun state, no doubts presented a classical example of the game of politics being one of uncertainty. It fell in line with Awo’s submission – “…the man who wins is the one that thinks he can”. Unlike other games where the physical strength of participants play vital roles, winning or losing political contests depend to a large extent on what a player says or fails to say, the way he says what he has to say, what he does or fails to do, how he does what he has to do, his antecedence, people’s understanding of the totality of his being and of course the God-factor.

However, one of the most significant factors required for election victories remain adequate preparations. This often involves long-term planning, wide consultations, image laundering with various media platforms, positive mindset and willingness to deploy finances towards the mobilization of support for a contestant and or his political party. All these, in addition to the God-factor worked in favour of Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. He went to the people with proofs of what he can do for them and what they (electorate) missed by not having him as their governor since 2018. Humility on his part also played a role that was built into the God-factor.

Those who are given to presenting themselves as thin-gods also stand to be humiliated in contests where they undermine the sensitivity of the electorate and on-lookers. This was the case in the recent election where the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu left the substance and concentrated on pursuing shadows during his party’s campaigns for the race to government house, Oshogbo. Instead of hammering on what APC plans to do differently from its performance in the last seven years, he was busy making statements like “emi lo kan” (it is my turn), “awa lo kan” (it is our turn) and “eyin lo kan” (it is your turn). In his estimation, apart from his political party, the APC, others are; “mushrooms that are bound to labour till death”. This has been proved wrong.

The country attained the status of an independent state on October 1, 1960. The battle to arrive at this stage was mostly fought with pen and nonviolent protests. Except for a few of them, the front line fighters were mostly writers and journalists. They include Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Anthony Enahoro, et al. While Anthony Enahoro, through his nationalist struggles established a dynasty of journalists in the then Midwest region with members such as Peter Enahoro and Mike Enahoro, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo founded the West African Pilot and the Nigerian tribune respectively. Nigeria thus, got her political freedom with ease.

Except in the case of President Muhammadu Buhari (2015 –date), one remarkable feature in the country’s leadership changes has been that those who eventually became presidents or heads of state never struggled hard to become one at the time they did. On the contrary, the ones who wanted to lead the country so badly never succeeded. General Muritala Mohammed came to power through bloodless coup while Obasanjo merely stepped into the leadership shoe of his predecessor after his assassination by Lt. Col. BukaDimka in 1976. Other military leadership changes since 1975 have been seamless.

When the ban on politics was lifted in 1978, five great parties were registered to contest the elections that followed in 1979. One of them was the National party of Nigeria, NPN. It paraded great political juggernauts like Alhaji Maitama Sule, Mallam Ali Ciroma, Dr. K.O Mbadiwe, Chief Richard Akinjide and the rest. With this array of politicians, only few people gave Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a TC II certificate holder any chance of winning the party’s presidential primary election. But he did. Not only that, he went ahead to win the election of 1979 and became the first executive president of Nigeria. Awolowo’s brilliant legal presentation at the Supreme Court could not stop him.

Late Chief Earnest Shonekan, a lawyer and one of Nigeria’s finest boardroom players maintains the record of being the only Nigerian to have become head of state so far without being a politician or soldier at all. In fact, Chief M.K.O Abiola won the election but Shonekan who neither contested nor ever took part in politics got the country’s leadership baton from President Babaginda who was forced by Nigerians to step aside in 1994.

President Muhammadu Buhari struggled so hard for three times to win as president of Nigeria on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) but failed woefully. He changed tactics and aligned with “men weysabi” in 2015 and contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The rest is now history. He did not “labour till death”.

Meanwhile, with alignments and realignments among the present crop of politicians, particularly in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and Labour Party (LP), the stage is getting set for real change that stands to change the narratives that have been the lot of Nigerians since 2015. But then, taking Jagaban for granted because of the outcome of the Osun governorship election portends great error waiting for his opponents to make. If economic expertise is all that it takes to win political contests, Adam Smith, the father of economics would have produced a Prime Minister for Britain long ago. Not even the family of Alukos of Ondo state noted for having economics professors or the Dafinones of Delta state that have put their names in the Guinness book of records as a family of accountants have produced governors or presidents in Nigeria.

It will only be wise for the presidential contestants to also be making preparations for possible political logjam that may take the contest to the Electoral College for conclusion.



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