When an old man wanted to teach his son some abiding lessons in relevance, he asked him to evaluate a piece of ancient treasure in the marketplace. After the young man had been to two shops in the town with the article owners estimating the relic at five dollars, his father sent him to the curator of the city museum. The museum authorities said they would pay a whopping one million dollars for the item.
According to the story, the father told the son: ‘’I wanted to let you know that the right place will recognize your value. Don’t put yourself in the wrong place and get angry if you’re not appreciated according to your worth. He who knows your value is he who appreciates you. Don’t stay in a place that doesn’t suit you.’’
This story, picked from the social media, best illustrates the situation in Edo State that saw Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki move dramatically from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to seek the opportunity of an encore of tenure he was denied in APC. Refused the slot, the Governor prudently reckoned that he was worth far more than how the ruling party rated him. So, like the treasure tossed about by those whose limited and myopic mind wouldn’t go beyond a one-digit price, Obaseki was forced to find his level. He went to where he was valued and given instant relevance.
Politics in Nigeria, and indeed worldwide, is not just a pragmatic enterprise. Its dynamics are shifty, as it were. You fail (or refuse) to understand its principles at your own peril. The moment you see a dagger drawn in the direction of your interests, you move your position or location for a safer zone. You don’t wait until the sword drops on you. A momentary stay is fatal.
Those who hammer Nigeria’s political defectors are naïve. They don’t understand the laws governing the politics of Nigeria. They have not taken a deep study of the kinetics of the politics we play here. Because of the thick layer and undercurrent of treachery that drive politics, its actors need acutely sensitive feelers that warn you of danger a thousand and one kilometers ahead. Those antennae must also pick so-called aides, party members and associates scheming to displace you. You match that with an agile ‘footwork’ that enables you jump or sail to a friendly harbor, away from the storm building up to swallow you.
Obaseki possesses all these and he deployed them to outwit his ‘frenemies’ in APC as a beleaguered military chief would outsmart opposing armies lying in wait for him and his forces. Now, would you brand such a politician as an unprincipled character? Would you say Obaseki is of the self-centred Machiavellian school because he sought relevance in PDP when APC rejected him? Can we blame him for running from the snare that would have spelt political death for him? Would his people forgive him if he gave in to the desires of the godfathers? Would they relish it if the good governance he and his team was suddenly aborted through the unpatriotic machinations of a cabal?
As we condemn those who forced Obaseki out of APC, we must hail the Governor for fighting back for self-preservation and for teaching us that although political godfathers can throw their weight around, they must not be allowed to have the last laugh. They must be resisted till they become extinct and prehistoric. Otherwise, they would reproduce themselves seasonally until they become a large clan with tentacles across the land. At that stage, they would overwhelm us politically and turn the country into an internal colony run at their whims and caprices.
We must be grateful the godfathers didn’t succeed in Edo to truncate the noble work we are benefiting from Obaseki.
At a time the Nigerian citizen yearns for fruitful governance through representative democracy based on selfless leadership, we can’t afford leadership types that see public office as platforms to breed idle and parasitic cronies. They lead to barren structures that haven’t moved the nation a flea-hop near growth and development.
When we talk of structural deficiencies being responsible for the challenges we have experienced over the decades in Nigeria, we must not underestimate the activities of godfathers in our politics. They are in the forefront of those averse to the restructuring of Nigeria because such a reordering of the polity would liberate the monopolized control of the national resources from their grip and redirect them into the hands of the masses. Where the nation enjoys this new lease of life, we shall have exponentially increased budgetary allocations to provide education, healthcare, roads, housing, industries, potable water, urban renewal, more reliable electricity supply, rural development etc. for our teeming population.
The people of Edo are excited at the prospects of a second term for Obaseki on another platform largely because it has delivered them from the ugly ogre of a godfather who would be watching over the Governor to dictate how to spend a pittance of state resources for the people but dedicate ginormous amounts for the godfather and his clique.
It’s been misery after misery and destruction after destruction for the states over the decades following the intrusion of the godfathers in our politics since, in addition to cornering our resources, they also disallow the emergence of fit and qualified public office holders.
We urge the states still in the vicious clutch of godfathers to learn the appropriate lessons from Edo: free yourself from your godfathers in order to be delivered from looming destruction!
Lagos-based public analysts.