By Gerald Nwokocha
There is no field where treachery is as pervasive as in politics. The saying ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed; seems not to apply to politicians in the country. Political support is transient and is mostly driven by personal interest.
The greatest problem in Nigerian politics is that party affiliation is not based on principles or ideology but on conspiracy to capture power for individual and group enrichment. Most Nigerian politicians are fortune seekers and fair-weather friends. That is why politics is still being practised at a primitive level.
Politicians are like fishes in water, they migrate to where the water is fuller. This is the same reason politics here is a do or die affair. Sadly, youths are toeing this line.
This is commonplace among African politicians. In the U.S. for instance, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you stick to your party, no matter what. A Republican wouldn’t rush to join the Democrats because his party is no longer in power. I respect a man who believes in something and holds to his convictions even if they are wrong. We practise a system of government, which we borrowed from the United States, so we should emulate their political ideology. The ongoing presidential campaigns in the U.S should be a guide to our politicians and their supporters on how to play the game of ‘politics’ without destroying lives and properties.
In my hierarchy of dislikes, next to inconsistent people are those who sit on the fence on controversial matters. They are neither here or there but wait to see where the pendulum drops so they will now align with it.
Once you occupy a position either appointive or elective in Nigeria, don’t assume that all that garner around you are real friends. Mostly, they are fair-weather friends. Most times, regular challenges would help you identify real friends.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” Abraham Lincon once said.
A look at recent events in Rivers State, a few days before the Supreme Court ruling on the fate of the governor, most of the friends and loyalists of Governor Nyesom Wike deserted him to the All Progressive Congress (APC). Even some members of the state House of Assembly, mostly PDP, threatened him to pay their outstanding arrears or be impeached before the Supreme Court’s verdict. They had thought that he would not win at the apex court, having lost at the lower courts.
Also, seeing that the former Governor Rotimi Amaechi had been appointed a minister, most thought the state would definitely be in the control of the APC, although they never stated the above assertions as reasons for leaving the PDP. These people backed him and gave him overwhelming support to get to office. Are these real politicians? No! They are businessmen and women!
I am sure they received with shock the news of the Supreme Court judgment that returned Governor Wike as duly elected governor of Rivers State. They would by now be counting their teeth with their tongues, that is, if they’ve not planned to return to the PDP.
If politicians are this inconsistent, then they have no legacy to pass to the younger generation. I still wonder why some young people would stick their necks out for a Nigerian politician. Many innocent Nigerians, especially young people, lost their lives during the electioneering processes, especially in Rivers and Bayelsa states. Little did these youths know that the politicians they are fighting for would someday make peace with their opponents and become best of friends, as in the case of the APC governorship candidate in Rivers, Dakuku Peterside, and Governor Nyesom Wike, who reconciled shortly after the Supreme Courts verdict. In fact, to the amazement of many, they gave themselves a warm embrace.
Fair-weather friends are everywhere in the African society, even in business. Another instance is the case of Abia State, where shortly after the Appeal Court set aside the Tribunal judgment and ruled that Mr. Alex Otti of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) be sworn-in as governor, most people in the governor’s camp and members of the state Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) were seen decamping and throwing their support for the APGA candidate because they felt the hand of the clock had changed.
I am sure that following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Abia polls on February 3, 2016, which confirmed Okezie Ikpeazu as the duly elected governor, this category of politicians would be regretting their actions by now. That is the heart of man.
Now, this same thing had happened to former President Goodluck Jonathan shortly after the general elections that ousted him and the handing over ceremony. One can now imagine how Jonathan would feel about Chief Edwin Clark’s sudden criticism of his administration. Recall that in a media briefing on October 2015, the former Federal Commissioner of Information and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, who, after declaring his support for President Muhammadu Buhari, openly criticised the administration of his political godson, Goodluck Jonathan, (whom he gave overwhelming support during the elections) as lacking political will to fight corruption.
A former governor in South-East Nigeria, a former deputy Senate Leader from the North-East and many others who feed on politics had left the new opposition party for the ruling party because the opposition can no longer sustain them.
Indeed the saying “success attracts great friends,” is real. Even the Holy Bible said time and chance happen to them all. I am beginning to think the Bible was referring to this category of humans. It has always been like that from time. Once a man is down, many of his friends avoid him. Consider where an armed robber is celebrated and his crimes are ignored, but once he gets a bullet and dies, you would begin to hear curses on him from the same people that once celebrated him.
President Buhari was right when he said during the first appointments he made that he appointed only those who have been with him in the struggle for many years.
Adversity is a great teacher. It defines friendship. It’s like a journey in the wilderness, you can only make it to the other side if you persevere and remain steadfast to your goals. Nigerian politicians are no real friends, rather they are power seekers.
Politics in Nigeria lacks principles and integrity. If it wasn’t for
favour, political friends and allies would stay faithful. If politics is about issues and accomplishments, fickleness and fair weather allies will disappear. Unfortunately, most of our leaders patronise sycophants the more.
Not all politicians possess all the characteristics described above. Most politicians that have a semblance of integrity were humble and had other professions to fall back on.
M. I. Okpara was prepared to go back to school to update his skills after being a successful Premier of Eastern Region of Nigeria. The same goes for Chief Sam Mbakwe, who was a lawyer and was also humble enough to return to school to update his skills after being a successful governor of old Imo State of Nigeria
‘’Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”….Kofi Annan, 1998.
Inconsistency is the bane of Nigerian politicians, who would always flow with the tide. Consistency pays! And for ‘unattached’ contributors to political discussions, consistency in one’s conscience is extremely rewarding.
When these fair-weather friends hit you, you would definitely be depressed and realise that you only have your family and reliable old friends to fall back on. All others are fortune seekers. I advise that if you must go higher in your career, business and politics, you have to put God and family first, followed by those who have always been with you. Know your limits with unreliable friends, sycophants, cheer leaders and friends who come around you for fame, power and money. They can best be described as drinking partners. The ruling party should keep this set of politicians at arm’s length. Also, parties should be formed on ideology such that members would remain faithful and not be running to greener pastures when challenges arise.
Nwokocha, a Content Development specialist, is the principal author, The Metamorphoses of Nigeria.