Nigerian politics: Between interest and power, where is the honour?

 Nigerian politics: Between interest and power, where is the honour?

By Chimaobi Afiauwa

Socrates, one of the wisest philosophers of Greek descent, once said, “the greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what you pretend to be”.

As dirty as politics could be, from a normative perspective, the phenomenon is still a game of honour that should be played by statesmen.

Titles like ‘Distinquished Senator, Honourable Speaker and Chairman, are often used by our Politicians, but how honourable are their actions?

Much has been said about the nature and character of our political parties and politicians, but their dispositions are nothing but identical shamelessness.

The obsessive drive of politicians to hold unto power has denied Nigerian political parties’ ideologies, which has characterized our party politics.

Membership to any political party ought to be a testament to the fact that the ideologies of the party subsumes your personal idiosyncracies. This, of course, makes one a long-lasting member of the party.

But, for the absence of ideolgical party politics, politicians inconceivably gallivant from party A to party B in search of parties’ tickets.

Ideological indifferenciation has for long been the bane of Nigerian political parties; yes, not even APC is different from PDP in principle, thus making the political prostitution of their members effortlessly possible.

Just like a zero-some game, the battle between the two major political parties has become a win and lose situation – where the loss of APC is gained by the PDP, and vice versa.

The recent political shenanigans in Edo state has further crystallized the rabble-rousing nature of our party politics, which obviously gives birth to godfatherism.

Undue monetization of party politics has grossly propagated godfatherism in Nigeria. As political heavyweights, godfathers through their affluence and influence, arrogate to themselves the power of kingmakers, seeking for controllable loyalists to place in office.

Once this is done, critical appointments and project execution cannot be made without their kick-back percentage.

These godfathers manipulate and maneuver party guidelines in favour of their chosen loyalists cum godsons before, during and after elections.

With the proceeds that are accruable to godfathers, at the state level, for instance, it has become a battle between ex-Governors and the incumbents (many of whom were godsons of their predecessors) for supremacy.

Sadly, however, many governors who fight/fought against godfatherism, end/ended up installing themselves as the new godfathers. In Abia state, for instance, after breaking away from the dynasty of his godfather/predecessor, Sen. Theodore Orji, the then Governor of Abia, established his own dynasty as the new godfather of the state.

With what happened in Abia state, it was not surprising to me that, Oshiomhole, who detested the godfatherism dispositions of Late Chief Tony Anenih, would end up arrogating to himself the power of a kingmaker.

He often referred to chief Anenih as the ‘godfather of Edo state’.

In one of his campaign speeches for re-election, the then Edo state Governor said, “the godfather is finished and no one can rescue him”.

Finishing the godfather was probably not to completely eliminate godfatherism in Edo politics. Perhaps, as the case has always been, it was a matter of dethroning a sitting king just to enthrone a new one: for when a newly bought cat succeeds in chasing away rats from the house, he starts feeding on the fishes the rats were feeding on.

When the face-off between Governor Obaseki and his predecessor started, I knew that the APC may not accommodate both gladiators, especially if the former was to seek for re-election.

With his influence and position as the then national Chairman of APC, Oshiomhole did not hesitate to land the heavy blow on his erstwhile godson for his political threachery. As if he expected the heavy blow, Obaseki had earlier sought to displace his former boss from his position.

But it never happened before the heavy blow landed.

Apparently, the same credentials that had qualified the Edo state Governor to contest and win his current position, had become faulty just after four years.

Come on the 19th of September this year, the major contestants of the Edo state governorship election would remain the same as it were in 2016. Ironically, however, what has changed now is that the major contenders have swapped political parties.

The returning of Ize Iyamu to APC meant Oshiomhole and his party had found a replacement for their prodigal godson.

Iyamu, a pastor and a lawyer, is not new to APC and the politics of Edo state at large. As a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Chief of Staff, the Benin born politician has always dreamt of occupying the highest political position in the state. This dream PDP could not help him to actualise in 2016, maybe APC can in 2020.

If not for the shameless nature of our politicians, how will Oshiomhole, who previously portrayed Ize Iyamu as someone who could not be trusted with public funds, turn around to give him his support?

In his usual explosive rhetorics, Oshiomhle had vehemently spoken against Iyamu, who was the governorship candidate of PDP in 2016. Speaking on a campaign rally covered live by Channels TV, Oshiomhle said, “I kept him (Ize Iyamu) busy, let him be holding midnight meetings which he is used to”.

“Ask him, since he was the DG of my campign, why did I not appoint him into government”? We kept him away, nothing near government, no access to public funds” Oshiomhle added.

Beyond just demonizing Iyamu, Oshiomhole sank the praises of Obaseki. “Obaseki, you are what God says you are. “You are a winner and not a loser”.

Four years down the line, the same man that was accussed for lacking trust in public funds, has been acquitted by his accusser.

Obaseki’s disqualification by his former party meant that he had to explore his option B. And, of course, the main opposition, the PDP, were going to provide him a soft-landing.

As soon as it became clear that the Governor was going to officially decamp to the opposition, a caucus meeting was hurriedly called by the national Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, to discuss about the possibility of handing over the party’s Edo state governorship ticket to him.

And when the plans to accommodate the Governor had been finalised, a waiver was quickly granted to him by PDP. In a post made on his verifiable Facebook account, the national chairman of the party said, “the PDP NWC in exercising the power of NEC in accordance with the PDP constitution met and approved a waiver as a request by the ward executive for His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki to participate in all activities of the PDP, including voting and be voted for in any intra party elections”.

At this point, the interests of other PDP governorship aspirants and probably party faithfuls were dashed; all that matters to the part is how to take back Edo and if the incumbency power of the Governor can guarantee that, so be it.

If our parties and politicians were to have ideologies and honours respectively, would three months be enough for Governor Obaseki to assimilate the ideologies and manifestoes of his new party in the upcoming Edo state governoship election?

Obviously, Nigerian politics is nothing about honour; it is all about actualising selfish interest and power play.

However, if it ever occurs to them to play politics with honour and principles, then we might have a political revolution of unimaginable sort.

Chimaobi Afiauwa writes from Abuja. Feedback: [email protected]

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