INEC has just released the timetable for the 2019 Elections. Therefore it is fitting at this point that we take a closer look at the cast of characters who will soon be warming up to you and vying for your support or votes to actualize their political ambition.
This examination is necessitated by the recognition that every facet of our lives – be it social, religious, economic, business, or communal – is impacted by the kind of political leaders we have.
The Nigerian Political landscape is peculiar because it spawns and harbors many political creatures and characters of varying intentions who emerge every election season.
Broadly speaking, there are 10 types of Nigerians who run for political office. These are:
The Egomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate knows he or she has no real chance of winning. Such people are looking for an ego booster. They want to bask in the psychological high of being treated as VIP wherever they go – which often happens once an individual declares for high political office in Nigeria.
In Nigeria you become “His Excellency” and “Honourable” just by declaring that you are running for political office. Suddenly an individual who has wallowed in obscurity for most of his or her life will become a superstar overnight, attracting a retinue of “Supporters” wherever he or she goes.
Some people cannot resist the egomaniacal ride that comes from running for office – even when they know that the quest is an exercise in futility. Egomaniacal Aspirants or Candidates rarely make it out of the Primaries.
The Megalomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate is similar to the Egomaniac. But the difference is that the Megalomaniac has made money in business or from Government contracts. Such people are hungry for respect and power, not necessarily money. It irks them to see their mates being called “Most Distinguished” or “Honourable.” They want to become “Most Distinguished” as well – at all costs.
For some of them, running for political office is a sanitizing strategy to “wash” or “launder” a name that has been soiled with nefarious activities. These people throw money around like there’s no tomorrow. If they manage to bulldoze their way into office, they are usually bereft of ideas.
The Collectomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate is usually a very poor individual who sees politics as a way to make money to solve his or her personal problems. Such people will go about telling friends, family members and even strangers that they are running for office and they need support. Most of them never make it to the point of buying an Expression of Interest Form let alone winning anything. These people use politics as a collection box to feed and to solve their personal problems. That is the extent of their “running”. You see them running for one thing or the other every election season.
The Kleptomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate has historically led a life of “wuru wuru” and shadiness. Such people are criminally disposed and are often 419 kingpins who have come to see Politics, rightly or wrongly, as a great source of wealth without honest labour.
As such, they believe – based on the abundant evidence around them – that getting into Politics will give them direct and un-impeded access to the Public treasury. In the parlance of one Elderly Statesman, these are petty thieves and criminals who want to graduate to Bank Robbery. For them the main attraction of Politics is that it would give them access to billions of public funds.
Because they see Politics as a license to steal, they are also willing to spend lavishly and recklessly to actualize their ambition.
In the end, if they manage to con their way into Political Leadership, they visit misery, sorrow and regret on their Constituency or State.
The Fightomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate knows he or she has absolutely no chance of winning the Party ticket let alone the General Election. Such people are naturally stubborn. They tend to be people with a history of cantankerousness and vexatiousness.
They want their voice to be heard in the public space. They can be louder than the genuine candidates. They love a good fight. They can become a thorn in the flesh of a Political Party, often fighting to the finish when they are soundly defeated. Such people may end up with one vote on the day of Primary. They usually end up being pacified with a political appointment by the candidate who wins, to douse their fire so everyone can have peace.
The Investomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate has neither the desire nor the true resources to vie for the office he pretends to be pursuing. Such people are not really interested in winning.
They see the election season as an opportunity to make money. They will buy the Nomination Form and print some Posters and then begin to negotiate with credible candidates to be “reimbursed” to drop out and fold their “structure” under the main candidate.
When you hear that there are over 30 Candidates running for the Governorship position in a particular Party, please know that over 90% of those are Investomaniacs. They are simply seeking to be “reimbursed” or “settled” to drop out and fold whatever structure they have under someone else.
For them it is purely an investment scheme. They want to sow thousands and reap millions in short order. Don’t be surprised to see them running shamelessly from one major Candidate to the other negotiating directly or through emissaries to be settled.
The Attachomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate is an opportunistic politician. Such people usually jump into the race banking on the resources and goodwill of a more powerful and more popular Candidate, hoping to ride on the big Candidate’s shoulders. They may even claim that it was the popular Candidate that asked them to run. They will spend more time telling you about the big Candidate than themselves. Their intention and structure is parasitic. Not surprisingly, if they lose the support of the powerful Candidate, their own ambition dies. If the big Candidate switches parties, they also try to switch.
The Diasporamaniacal Aspirant or Candidate usually has lived and studied abroad for many years. Such people often rush back to Nigeria three months to the election season and begin to criticize and attack the “Locals” for everything that is not going well – after living abroad for 30 years.
They are often brash and arrogant in their engagement with opponents and the established system. They are often “naïve” about the nuances of the Nigerian Political scene and soon begin to alienate entrenched interests and potential allies. They are shocked by the treachery of the political class. In time, they grow weary of midnight meetings and endless consultations with endless “stakeholders” who have endless demands for money and no iota of truth or honour in whatever they do or say after collecting the money.
In the end, the Diasporamaniacal Aspirant or Candidate eventually gets dispossessed of his hard earned dollars or pounds by endless sycophants and support groups that spring up every day. They soon discover that Nigerian politics is not yet about intellectual discourse and engagement, but a macabre theatre of deception, violence, betrayal, blood and death in some cases.
By the time the Diasporamaniacs are rid of all illusions about changing the system, they end up crawling back to their base abroad miserably broke, out of a job or business, and facing foreclosure or repossession of their house. It is often a bitter experience which scars the Diasporamaniacal Aspirant or Candidate for life.
The Spoilomaniacal Aspirant or Candidate is usually sponsored by others to spoil another Candidate’s chances of winning.
Such people are merely pawns in a larger game. A typical example is where a particular Zone or State has produced a powerful Candidate. Weaker opponents of that Candidate may sponsor someone from that Zone or State to neutralize the main Candidate.
The Spoilomaniac usually fizzles once their Master’s objective is achieved. They rarely win any Election.
The Transformaniacal Aspirant or Candidate is a rare breed. Such people often have money or credible backers to run a campaign. They have built a good reputation for themselves and now want to harness it into votes.
They are genuinely outraged about the state of affairs in the country and want to make a difference. They want to contribute and leave a legacy.
Finding a true Transformaniac in Nigeria is still like finding a needle in a haystack. They are rarely given a chance by the other politicians to win election. But when they do, they people rejoice – at least for a while.
The irony of the Nigerian situation is that every Politician or Aspirant you encounter will tell you he or she is running to free people from oppression, to bring about transformation or change, to rescue people from poverty, and to uplift the masses.
The narrative is almost always the same. But beware that there are many wolves in sheep’s skin.
As the 2019 election season looms, it is incumbent on you to have a discerning eye. Many will come promising you unbelievable things.
I hope this article will help to expand your perspective and sharpen your focus. As the political season heats up, do not be bamboozled.
The choices you make will have far reaching implications for your life, your business, your freedom, and the future of your children. Be properly guided. God bless.
By Mazi Agodi Okoro