By Adeolu Akinyemi
Everyday I engage with our generation and the one coming after it, I see that we are quite politically ill informed. The average young person has bought an ideology that makes them uninterested in politics. We somehow hibernate for 45 months in 4 year cycles. We become active for 3 months before the elections, and go back into our political commas once the elections are over. Somehow the political class has successfully sold us a lie – “Politics is not meant for people like you”. People like us are good in corporate careers, some of us are good in business, a few of us are better off relocating, and the rest of us can if things do not add up quickly enough, settle for civil service. After all, political power, which is what administers and manages all the resources, is better suited to thugs, area boys and miscreants. They sold us that we should not be caught dead hanging out with, or batting with these ones, it’s better we face our careers to global standards or build our businesses to enviable heights. What a sickening paradox.
We live in a country, where our career priorities are turned upside down. We don’t understand that we should all be involved in Politics, even those among us who studied political science, don’t see how it connects with our national realities. The key question is, what is politics, and why should good people be interested?
Politics are the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society. In the words of one of my Mentors – Politics as a contest for power to control resources and influence the people. It is the acquisition of power for governance. The ideal purpose of power it to allocate the Nations resources fairly. Taking into cognizance the weak, the vulnerable and defenseless. Poverty is the result of inequalities in the distribution of wealth. So in an easy formula, politics is securing power for governance, and governance requires creating an enabling environment for the pursuit of prosperity and happiness.
Our challenge in Nigeria is that our young people do not understand how to run this contest in other to win this contest. This is what we need to begin to change. It doesn’t start in November 2022, it starts NOW!
Here are a few RESET buttons you need to press, and PARADIGMS you need to SHIFT.
1. If you LIKE, let FIRE be dripping from your FOREHEAD, and smoke coming out of your eyes, you will not win Presidency by votes by trying it out in 4 year cycles even if you try 5 times. Presidents are popularity contests among the majority grassroots, not among elites. It requires political structure – which in English means at least 119,973 polling agents in 774 local governments. To build this political structure, you don’t only need grassroots people, you need alignment with stakeholders and wholesalers in the power Game – Sitting Governors, Traditional Rulers, Past Presidents, Religious leaders with cult followership, Military Generals – Past and Present, Labour Union leaders and Money Bags to mention a few. House of Reps and Senate require much much less, and are good starting points, but not if you still strike out on your own without a solid platform. Trust me when I tell you that all the 70+ other political parties are to merely create some distraction, when you add all their votes together, they will not clock 1m as usual.
2. The DOOR of service open to good people who don’t have political structure is on the back of loyalty and direct service to their candidates of choice. The sure bet for competent people is riding on the backs of structure owners or holders. Their ticket is service, lack of personal agenda and loyalty. I have seen few men in office as intelligent as Babatunde Raji Fashola, yet if not for service to Tinubu, a Gubernatorial ticket could not have been won by him. People like Prof Osinbajo, Ambode and even Obasanjo rode into office on the back of someone else’s political machinery. Good Bible guys like Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther e.t.c have their roads to power marked clearly – Service to the Power holders. Good men and women will influence the deployment of power.
3. Campaigning for an officer without their buy-in and awareness doesn’t bestow any special value on you. Also the power of your votes is overrated. In a country where over 80% are poor and listen mostly to radio, you can’t expect the elite 20% who will be most absent at the polling units to decide the direction of the nation. Last election had 29.4 million out of 65m voters (43.6% turnout). If we repeat the same feat this year, we will have 40 million voters, 35 million of which are likely to be poor people. So, as an elite you don’t really control much. Also, if you really want to be a stakeholder or let’s say a retailer in the power game, then when you are supporting a candidate, the candidate needs to know you. Of course if you are not interested in political power, you can simply be a good citizen and vote, but if power for resource control is a dream, repackage your swag.
4. The easiest route to owning a political structure is to become Governor, install the next Governor and continue building the base and structure. This is not the only way, another way is ensuring you are on top of people welfare and humanitarian activities in your community or state of interest – cater for the basic needs of the ordinary people. Make them know that they are important and you care. You can also do this by being a party faithful, being a money bag that can bankroll the parties activities or handling a national project that gives you access to doing things for the “ordinary people”. For case studies on these, analyze Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Dr. Saraki (senior and Junior), Chief Lamidi Adedibu, Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari. You can figure out which one each one did. This is the strategy currently being denied Amosun and Rochas.
5. Learnt the weights of actions in your local political economy. Sometimes, walking Tinubu’s Dog on Saturday’s and helping to run his errands will give you more political capital than running for Presidency. Who is Sanwo-Olu that we should vote for him? Yet today, there is almost nobody more popular in Lagos. While Prof Yemi Osinbajo was serving as Attorney General in Lagos, Pastor Chris Okotie, Prof Pat Utomi and Gani Fawehimi of blessed memory, were running for President. Guess wisdom is justified by her children. The way to the kings palace is through the servants quarters. If you want to be relevant in 2023, find someone to serve today! Running for Senate and House Of Reps are usually rewards for faithfulness to the political structure holders 🙂
There are more points, but I think I need to stop quickly before this becomes a book on politics in Nigeria today. Let’s give it to the two strongest contenders today. Forget all the rubbish people are saying about either of them. Atiku Abubakar is a great political strategist and President Muhammadu Buhari has built a massive political base on the merit of his perception as a man of integrity and truth. Yes, they are both cut from the old, and both have some baggage (Choose your Baggage), but none of them is as evil or wicked as they are painted. Yes they have ambition, but in their own little ways want to contribute to a Nigeria that works. To my generation, we do not yet have what it takes to wrestle power from this generation, if it’s by ballot, it will need careful and strategic planning – Rome was not built in a day.
After this elections, there will be an anticlimax, and people will return to their hustles and leave politicians to their resource control for another 3.5yrs. After then, we’ll come back again to use our wishful thinking and quick fix methods to recommend another way forward. Ko le werk! It’s time to Ji-Masun. – Come online. Let everybody carry their body – Gbe Body Eh 🙂
Adeolu Akinyemi is a Pastor, Entrepreneur and Networker (PEN) and he is passionate about a New Nigeria in his lifetime.
The views expressed here are those of the author and in no way reflects the views of the website owner.