By Josef Omorotionmwan
WE are not easily carried away by the argument that new arrivals to a party should not show interest in the forthcoming gubernatorial race. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole rightly maintains that all aspirants must have a level play ground so that it will be to each according to his works.
In this numbers game, the defector is sometimes to be preferred to the aborigine for, while the latter came into the party alone, the former came in with a cluster of people who would normally go where he goes and vote where he votes. They are prepared to swim or sink with him.
It is a principal error in politics to trust a reconciled enemy. Let the leaders beware. Sometimes, the political turf becomes so clustered that you find it difficult to know who is who. Even among the people closest to you, there could be some working for the opposing political party. Their secret charge could be to push you into producing a weak candidate that could be easily defeated at the main poll.
Call it political espionage, if you wish; but every political party that is worth its salt should invest in some aspects of it. After all, the end still justifies the means.
The APC has suddenly become the beautiful bride. The party certainly has its stars to thank for that. But the British novelist, Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) left a poser: “Mosquitoes and other ugly insects hover over the candlelight; and the candlelight cannot drive them away. Does it mean that the candlelight has affection for all of them?”
In politics, number remains an asset that should not be squandered. That underscores why the party’s primary should not be a do-or-die affair. Rather, it must be a way of cultivating loyalty and friendship between an incumbent and his successor.
As we speak, at least 10 State Governors are on the war-path with their predecessors. From the very beginning, we must remain resolute that Edo State cannot fall into that category.
Whoever wants to match wet soil must learn to throw water ahead. The rest of this piece will be devoted to examining some of the obvious rifts between incumbent governors and their predecessors with a view to avoiding the inherent pitfalls.
Never say never. Enter the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and his predecessor, Saidu Dakingari: Dakingari of the PDP fell out with many PDP chieftains in the State prior to the party’s primaries. He vowed never to hand over to Bagudu who was also a PDP member at the time.
Bagudu lost the party’s primaries and 24 hours later, he defected to the APC where he emerged the party’s candidate. He later won the governorship election and since then, the duo cannot be left in the same room.
Conflicts are inevitable. Even in the small chamber, the mouth, the tongue and the teeth are the closest neighbours. They still quarrel; and when they quarrel, they settle. When a man who has been loyal to you for long offends you, you must talk it over with him and let life continue.
Transparency is golden. Sometimes, the excessive love for money can drive a wedge between two friends. Kano State is one of the very few States in our current democratic experiment, where a governor has been succeeded by his erstwhile deputy. To the outside world, former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso could never have found a more loyal follower than his deputy, Dr. Umar Ganduje. They were together for the two terms.
Anyone who saw the duo anywhere in their immaculate white apparel always with the red cap to match could have sworn that nothing on earth could ever go wrong between them. But today, they are at daggers-drawn. Listen to Ganduje’s recent outburst: “I have decided to let the cat out of the bag… For one year, Kwankwaso did not pay a single kobo as tuition fees for our students abroad. Right now, Kano State owes those students N3 billion….” With a bit of transparency, the problem here would have been obviated.
Don’t live and let die: The case of Anambra State is rather pathetic.
Former Governor Peter Obi got a standing ovation across the world when he announced that he was leaving N75 billion cash in the till. His successor, Willie Obianor, was yet gnashing his teeth on how he would preside over the disbursement of N75 billion wind-falls.
Meanwhile, traditional rulers, labour leaders, contractors, and other stakeholders were quick to brand Obianor as wicked for not wanting to freely spend the huge amount left by his predecessor.
Little did anyone know that what Peter Obi called cash-in-hand were basically investment in stocks, bonds and other non-performing equities arranged by Obi in his final days in office; long-term uncompleted assets that will not earn cash until they are completed; various sums spent in rehabilitating federal roads in the State for which re-imbursements may come in the distant future; computation of the State’s share of the Excess Crude Account contributed as capital to the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund in 2010, etc.
Again, Obi left a financial burden of N185 billion for contracts awarded in the final hours of his tenure.
Obianor had to cry out and that today is the source of the conflict between him and Obi.
As frightening as the foregoing cases may be, the cut-throat rivalry between the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, fritters all of them into insignificance.
Translated to the Edo State situation, the APC must immediately begin to see the impending war of succession for what it is – a war between the APC and the PDP! The worst same-party successor is better than the best opposition successor.
For Edo State APC, it is not too early to invite Harry Song to add one stanza to his Reggae and Blues:
Fight the battle, fight the war… I do, I do
Win the battle, win the war… I do, I do.