In the 2011 presidential election, the neck and neck between the then President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party and Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, a result emerged that made experts scratch their heads. Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria had managed to beat both heavyweights in Osun state. That result was puzzling, not just because Osun was the only Southwest State to vote ACN (every other state in the region voted PDP), it was that Nuhu Ribadu, didn’t even win his own state of Adamawa (Buhari and the CPC won there). More so it was difficult to see the appeal that Nuhu Ribadu all the way from Adamawa could have for an average Osun citizen. However more discerning political analysts soon discovered the reason for the outlier, it was because Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, had won his mandate at the election tribunal the year before, and the voters of Osun State, perhaps to affirm that Aregbesola was their man, voted for his party’s presidential candidate, despite most of them not even knowing who was on the ballot. That streak would continue three years later as Aregbesola would go on to be reelected as Governor of Osun State fairly easily. it remains an active reminder to this day tha politics is local.
What prompted this trip down memory lane was the news of some of the candidates who have declared their intentions to contest for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2019. The one that has got the most tongues wagging of course is the 46 year old life coach and business consultant who has gone to found his own political party, and is running on a platform of a fresh idea and a new voice among the old voices who have been recycling themselves in the corridors of power in the country. People who have been following me on social media, especially on twitter would have known who I am talking about, mostly because I have been vociferous (in fact I think I may have gone overboard a bit) with my opposition for his candidature.
Don’t get me wrong here, it is not like I don’t want “young people with fresh ideas” to Nigeria. I, 100%, agree with those who are canvassing for young people to have a shot a power in Nigeria (I am particularly happy at how there have been overwhelming acceptance of the #Nottooyoungtorunbill in the various State Houses of Assemblies in the country). However it is my belief that if we are to replace these “old people” and change everything they have done wrong, then we must do things the right way. Half-assing stuff will not help us anymore than it hasn’t helped these old people who have run the country to the ground. This is the problem I have with all of these “new faces” particularly our 46 year old Life-Coach and Motivational Speaker, who are treating the highest office in the land like it i a comedy show.
When I first heard that he had declared his presidential ambition, the first thing I thought (and which one or two people mentioned on twitter) was “why didn’t he start from a lower office, say from House of Representatives? (I agree with those who say with his impressive CV he might not want to start from Chairman, or State House of Assembly)”. The replies that his followers give is that “with his pedigree, he deserves to go for the highest office in the land.” To which I say, that’s a whole load of bullshit. Even Jesus Christ (who according to belief has control over everything) did not start his religion from the Emperor of Rome, he realized that started with twelve humble men from his own hometown. It was these twelve men who spearheaded a movement, that more than a third of the world’s population are part of in one form of the other. There is a process to everything, and it is extremely disappointing that a 46 year old, life coach, mentor, and business consultant, who is supposed to know better, has decided to participate in this kind of farce.
“Politics is local” has lately become the mantra of the popular Lagos based social media influencer with a leaning towards the ruling APC (you know which one). Of course the view didn’t originate from the aforementioned influencer, but the principle behind it is so sound that even Jesus Christ used it. The truth is this, for you to win any election, whether you have served in politics before or you haven’t, you must have a voter base who would vote for you come rain come shine. The size of the voter base will depend on the position you are contesting for. That voter base must be so invested physically and emotionally in you that you don’t need to campaign to them before they vote for you. No matter how much you campaign, or how much wonderful plans you have, if the majority of the people don’t see you as a representation of themselves, as a vehicle where their hopes and dreams might be realized, they are not going to vote for you. Here is why it is local. That voter base doesn’t need to be united by wealth, or social status, (though those are bonuses) they only need to be united by one thing. Location. In any election no matter how small or big, a serious contestant should be able to put a definite number, and place on his expected return, Not just throw meaningless terms like “young people” or “young Christians” in the air. That is why a good way to always test how much of a presidential material you are is to go for a position as a representative in your country’s parliament first. Barrack Obama did it, Justin Trudeau did it, Goerge Weah did it, even Emmanuel Macron, the 40 year old president of France (who is now the poster boy for young Nigerians leaders everywhere) realized this. Most of the people who keep talking about his “surprise victory” don’t talk about his failed attempt to run for the representative of Picardy in the French National Assembly under the Socialist party in 2007. Donald Trump might not be young and might not have gone the “representative” route, but he still used the “politics is local” principle by targeting communities of white conservative Christian men who have their communities (and states) where they can be found. So I put this question to all of the people supporting the 46 year old life coach and other “young” candidates. Does your candidate have at least one National Assembly district where a clear MAJORITY of the people, from the most devout Pastor to the most avowed Atheist, from the 90 year old who is nearing their grave, to the 18 year old who is voting for the first time, the most educationally accomplished Professor, to the Micra (forgive the Ibadan reference) driver who has never set foot inside a classroom in his life, can say: “We know him/her, he/she is our own and we are voting for him/her no matter what?” If he doesn’t, but keeps touting himself as a “global brand”, just hand him a microphone, and sit down to listen to him with a big bag of popcorn and a drink. Because He is clearly just doing comedy. Ayodele Fayose for example might be a butt of jokes in other parts of Nigeria, but in Ekiti, you dare not say a bad word about him. Same for Okorocha in Imo, and so on and so forth. Your 46 year old Life coach however thinks because he can speak English and he has travelled the world, then he can get away with behaving anyhow. That is why he has to go and form his own political party, because which big political party that is serious about winning anything useful will give even a councillorship ticket to such a comedian?
The truth is this, Party godfathers might be corrupt and dishonest, but they are not stupid. They want a return on investment like any other businessperson. If you want them to use the party machinery to support you, then you must also bring something other than a resume (which admittedly is impressive) to the table. As the particular law of power says, “You cannot win people over by appealing to their sense of justice or because they owe you a favour, you win them over by appealing to their sense of self-preservation”. The chance of your 46 year old Life coach winning the presidency in 2019 is slim to none existent, but he will surely gain a following. Let him learn from George Weah of Liberia, find a particular Senatorial/House of Representatives district, adopt that district, gain their trust, then represent them in the National Assembly. From there, he can make like Justin Trudeau and make a run for the presidency. But your MCM won’t learn, He will think He is like Buhari and keep contesting for President, like that former musician turned Pastor who keeps racking up UTME scores as election results. Because every one of us, from our leaders to our “intellectual elite” who should know better, are a bunch of jokers.
There was not #NottooyoungtorunBill in place when Dimeji Bankole became an elected member of the House of Represntatives at the age of 34 in 2003. There was no bill when he became the youngest Speaker of the HOR in 2007, just days before his 38th birthday. As young people, we should not be among the young people who peddle the ignorant opinion that “young people don’t have a chance to rule in this country”. Young people have a chance to rule, we just have to learn to do things the right way.