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How to be an ‘atikulate’ politician


Sir: As a student of politics, my discipline predisposes me to acutely observe the political scene, particularly the Nigerian political scene. Thus, I keenly observe the nation’s political scene and the activities of its political actors.

Since the nation’s political scene is always packed with plenty of drama, I have invariably learnt some good political lessons watching the actions of the different political actors the country’s politics keeps throwing up. And these lessons have more practical use than the political theories I am being taught in class.

From carefully observing the actions of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, I learnt that with a daily feast of amala and gbegiri, I can become the godfather of Oyo-State politics and install and remove governors at whim. Also, from closely watching the activities of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, I am now aware that with regular handouts to the people and ceaseless theatrics, I can become the governor of the state and govern the state like a benevolent Father Christmas.


On the East of the Niger, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has taught me that there is enough space for political charlatans and jesters in the nation’s politics. And that a state can be run as a private limited company, with the governor’s family members on the board of directors. While politicians in the North have, by their actions, impressed it on me that the greatest good that can be done to the greatest number of their people is mass marriage and state-sponsored pilgrimage to Mecca, sometimes with empowerment programmes like distribution of cartons of noodles and beverages to ‘Mai Shayi’.

Even taciturn Sai Baba, President Muhammed Buhari, though not your regular political actor, taught me an unforgettable political lesson in the build-up to the 2015 Presidential election. He taught me that I do not need the barest academic qualification to emerge as the nation’s head of state—all I need is a mythical integrity and cosmetic asceticism and I am on my way to Aso-Rock, regardless of my ability to do the job.

But the most interesting lesson I have learnt is that to be an ‘atikulate’ politician, I must not be overly committed to any political party, as an ‘atikulate’ politician only sees political parties as a means to an end; and once that end seems far-flung in party A, an ‘atikulate’ politician must waste no time in switching to party B. I further learnt that for an ‘atikulate’ politician, personal ambition trumps any other considerations, and no political principle must be held too dearly, save self-interest.

This, I learnt, is the only way to stay afloat in the nation’s slippery political waters. Little wonder (that) from the bottom rung of our politics up to the top, ‘atikulate’ politicians dot everywhere, wandering about like nomadic herdsmen. They take breakfast in party A, lunch in party B and dinner in party C, biting the hand that feeds them in the process.

Nigerian politicians, however, are more ‘atikulate’ than each other. There are those who have been members of different political parties because of party mergers, while some have been in every major political party since the commencement of the Fourth Republic. These are the ones with restless feet, with eyes darting about, always looking for where the grass is greener. Whenever they make their ‘atikulate’ move, they are quick to demonize their former party and praise their new party, saying personal differences and injustice made them leave their former party, but if one scratched deeper, one would see inordinate ambition lurking in the background.

An ‘atikulate’ politician recently left the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his ‘atikulate’ move has kicked off the 2019 Presidential race. Those who have stuck with the party while he was on his ‘atikulate’ journeys have vowed to resist his attempt to become the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 Presidential elections, while the party he recently left has dismissed his chances, saying his exit won’t affect the party. On his part, he has asked Nigerians to give him their votes and watch him turn the country into the Eight Wonder of the World. Whether Nigerians accede to his request or not, one thing is certain: he has taught people like me how to be an ‘atikulate’ politician.

Odurombi Onabanjo.

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