Editor's note: Bolanle Bolawole, a popular political analyst in Nigeria, takes a look at how democracy is run in the country pitching friends against each other and turning enemies into friends overnight. Illustrating with names and details, his analysis shows how tragic the form of government becomes for some people.
Bolawole (firstname.lastname@example.org), links biblical verses with politics as practised in Nigeria, but ends up in anticipation of what can happen during the forthcoming Kogi election.
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That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. – Ecclesiastes 1: 15
“A friend of my friend is my friend. A friend of my enemy is my enemy. An enemy of my friend is my enemy”. “There are no permanent friends but permanent interests”. “If we do not forget or forgive what happened yesterday, we will have no one to associate with today”. “Politics is a dirty game”. “Friendship or friends are not forever”. “The end justifies the means”. “The first casualty in war – nay, politics – is truth”. “The elements of surprise, ambush and deceit are not only acceptable but effective weapons of war”. “God Himself endorsed the application of deceit to convince King Ahab to go over to Ramoth-gilead and fall”. “A politician is someone who sees black and calls it white”. “Politics is not for saints”.
A sufficient understanding of the above statements helps our understanding of not just the on-going paradoxes in Kogi state as another governorship election draws nearer but also affords an informed appreciation of the polity called Nigeria. How time flies! And nothing lasts forever! It looked like only yesterday that Audu Abubakar died on the way to winning - and returning - to Kogi’s governorship. If Audu hadn’t died, Kogi might never have had the misfortune of a Yahaya Bello.
From prison to palace – a bible story was repeated before our very eyes. Our own Joseph even climbed higher than biblical Joseph, the boy with the coat of many colours. Olusegun Obasanjo did not stop at being a prime minister; he was Pharaoh himself. A man reportedly pilloried another former leader, asking him what he forgot at the seat of power; a man quipped, how many presidents do you want to make of me; yet OBJ got back into office and plotted a third term! If you can answer some of the questions God asked Job: if you know the way of an airplane in the sky or that of the ship on the sea; if you can put a hook in the nose of the Leviathan, then, you may know the ways of the Nigerian politician! Obasanjo/Atiku: Close associates turned inveterate foes. In 2003 Atiku had OBJ by the balls but allowed the wily fox to escape. OBJ thereafter put pepper in Atiku’s eyes. In the last election, the impossible happened as both came together again. OBJ ate his vomit on Atiku. Atiku also ate his own vomit on OBJ. OBJ/Atiku against Jonathan/PDP became OBJ/Atiku for PDP. The party OBJ said was dead “resurrected” in the ex-president’s own reckoning, to the consternation of Nigerians. Atiku, who led seven PDP rebel-governors to tear PDP apart and ship-wreck Jonathan to enthrone Buhari, is now in Buhari/APC’s black books. How about Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye: From PDP to (ACN, for Melaye), then APC and back to PDP. Today, the Buhari/APC they brought to power plots their political Nunc Dimittis while Atiku still runs after what he let slip through his fingers in 2003.
Iyiola Omisore was foundation member and financier of the AD; the Osun governorship was Omisore’s just for the asking but he blew it! He let the late Chief Bola Ige cajole him into stepping down for Chief Bisi Akande. The governorship form that Akande filled was purchased by Omisore; rather than fill his name on it, Omisore handed it over to Akande while he settled for the deputy governorship slot. Omisore was told Akande would do only one term. Politicians who accept promissory notes are like shop-owners who sell on credit. “No credit today, come tomorrow”. “Business survives and thrives best when friends and family pay for services rendered”. Gospel truth - in politics more so! Political permutations change like quicksilver. What is tenable today may become anathema tomorrow. When Omisore tried to enforce the gentleman’s agreement, he first got impeached and later got entangled in the “Who killed Bola Ige” saga. He left for PDP and became senator. He contested the governorship under the party but lost. In the last Osun governorship election, however, he lost the party ticket to “dancing” Adeleke. Enraged, Omisore quit PDP. You needed to have seen Omisore when the times were good between him and ex-Ekiti state Gov. Ayo Fayose. The Ekiti Government House was one of Omisore’s hibernation spots. See him sprawl on the sofa in one of the inner sitting rooms at the Osuntokun Government House and you could mistake him for the governor! Today, himself and Fayose are enemies while Omisore is back in the circles of his Nemesis, Bisi Akande. In the Osun-West senatorial by-election won by PDP, Omisore and the Adelekes cooperated on the understanding that the Adelekes would help Omisore with the governorship; but when the time came for Omisore to draw his cheque, the Adelekes wanted the plum office for themselves. “Once bitten, twice shy” but Omisore’s got twice bitten! First-time, it was Ige; second time, Omisore held Fayose culpable. Adeleke ran from APC when it was certain he would not get the ticket and birthed in PDP overnight, putting sand in Omisore’s “garri”.
It is rumbling in Edo state. Governor Obaseki was ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s godson whom the new APC national chairman fought tooth-and-nail to enthrone. Adams fought his own deputy for Obaseki’s sake. He did everything to make Obaseki “win”, even though many believe that election was tainted. Ex-APC national chairman, Oyegun-Odigie is in Obasaki’s camp today. It had not always been so. Oyegun-Odigie was originally a Bola Tinubu man but after piggy-backing on Tinubu to power, he ditched Tinubu and pitched his tent with presidency cabals. State after state, the cabal used the Oyegun leadership to put pepper in Tinubu’s eyes - in Ondo where his candidate Segun Abraham “lost” the primaries to incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. In the previous governorship election, the same Akeredolu was Tinubu’s candidate but lost to incumbent Governor Olusegun Mimiko. Where is Mimiko? From AD to PDP to Labour Party and then flirting(?) with Tinubu’s ACN and Buhari’s APC: Ask Eyitayo Jegede, Mimiko’s Aattorney-general and commissioner for justice and the PDP governorship candidate in the last Ondo governorship election! Ondo is rumbling as another governorship election draws near. Akeredolu must be losing a lot of sleep. Things are reportedly no longer at ease between him and his deputy. At the last count, there are three governorship aspirants from Akeredolu’s own Owo axis. The cat-and-mouse between Aketi and Tinubu gets adumbrated as the elections draw closer.
Engr. Segun Oni was said to have been Tinubu’s preferred candidate in last year’s Ekiti APC’s governorship primaries. Oni, from PDP to APC where he lays prostrate at the moment, is marginalised by Fayemi’s people. APC can’t trust these PDP guys. Presidency cabal, bent on teaching loquacious and enfant terrible Ayo Fayose a lesson, drafted Fayemi, then minister of solid minerals, into the fray. It was also to cut the influence of Tinubu; thereby killing two birds with one stone. Ekiti’s politics is a labyrinth of sorts. Oni is seen as an OBJ acolyte. Fayose also - until his OBJ-orchestrated impeachment, which the Supreme Court upturned years later. Oni as governor tried unsuccessfully to send Fayose to jail. Fayose retaliated by supporting Fayemi against Oni in those celebrated Ido-Osi re-run saga. Fayemi won eventually but reneged on the promises made to Fayose. Fayose went to see Governor Fayemi to press for revalidation of the promises but ex-Governor Niyi Adebayo, now Minister, walked Fayose out of Fayemi’s office. Fayose years later chased Fayemi out of office but curiously remains friendly with Adebayo, whom he refers to as “our leader” When Genernor Adeyinka Adebayo died, Fayose literally carried the burial on his head, to Niyi’s admiration and acknowledgment. Fayemi never recognised Segun Oni as governor. He tore down his photographs and never paid him a dime as entitlements. Fayose, of all people, came and restored Oni’s privileges and entitlements. But today, Oni and Fayemi are in same APC. In the next election, however, permutations are that Oni could be PDP’s joker because many PDP big-wigs - and even some in APC - belonged in Segun Oni Campaign Organisation (SOCO) or were his appointees. The likes of Chief Bisi Kolawole, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, Biodun Olujimi, even Fayose’s Chief of Staff, Dipo Anisulowo and his social media guru, Lere Olayinka. Adeyeye used to be AD, then ACN, then PDP and now APC. What APC gave him with the right hand (the Senate seat), some say it is trying to take away with the left (Adeyeye lost at the tribunal level to Olujimi) so he would not be a threat to Niyi Adebayo’s wish to return as governor. Fayose had trounced Adebayo in 2003, preventing him from doing second term. Now, Adebayo is well positioned as minister, if you know what that means. It was from that vantage position that Fayemi returned to Ekiti to seize the governorship, to quote ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state, who said they would hijack it - and they did. Once that decision was made by the powers-that-be, Fayose became miserably exposed on all flanks. The south west must learn from the south south, Rivers and Bayelsa especially. Election is war, pure and simple. Line up federal might behind you or raise your own “Army” To be relevant; to get reckoned with - have fire-power! Fayemi, Dele Alake, Opeyemi Bamidele, Niyi Adebayo, Segun Oni, Babafemi Ojudu: They have aligned and re-aligned. They have fought battles for and against one another. Only time will tell what the next formation will look like.
Back to Kogi: Audu laboured for others to eat. He toiled but another entered into his rest. Who did he offend? James Faleke, Audu’s running mate, thought he should have been governor; many informed commentators thought so, too, but the process of cutting Tinubu to size was still on, and Faleke was Tinubu’s man. Faleke represented Lagos state in the House of Representatives but wanted to be Kogi governor. His sin was being a Tinubu man at the wrong time. Had the timing been the last general election when Tinubu was hot cake again to presidency cabals, the story might have been different. Tinubu and his camp seized on the opportune occasion the last time out to punish Oyegun-Odigie for his sins and send him to political Siberia. Yahaya Bello was the right man at the right time - malleable, had nothing at stake, and had no nexus with Kogites. A man like that would know where his bread is buttered. His loyalty will be to those who installed him. Yahaya has been that: loyal and unwavering, supporting his masters all the way - RUGA and all. He is a man cast in the mould of Rauf Aregbesola, ex-Osun governor/now minister of the interior. Rauf reportedly said if his godfather asked him to commit suicide, he would simply ask what type of death! Yahaya Bello has said he, too, could die for Buhari. Someone said Dino, Smart Adeyemi, Duro Meseko(?) were friends and political associates. Dino’s political tendency and Bello’s were on same page at some point (on account of the Saraki/Tinubu divide) but today both Dino and Yahaya are sworn foes. The embattled Kogi deputy governor, who got “impeached” recently, grinned from ear to ear with Bello when the going was good between them. They both inflicted hardship on others but as things fell apart, one party wants to be seen as the oppressed. Interestingly, the new deputy governor sees nothing wrong with the injustice being meted out to his predecessor – but his own Karma lurks in the corner.
Yakubu’s INEC is worse than Ovie-Whiskey’s FEDECO, Maurice Iwu’s “iwuruwuru” and Jega’s predetermined INEC. It doesn’t get better here, it gets worse. It doesn’t rain for Nigeria; it pours. Six and half-a-dozen; half-filled and half-empty; between the devil and the deep blue sea; and between the rock and the hard place - God help us!
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