“Gentleman Politicking in Nigeria: A push to political gallery and miscalculations in Nigerian 4th Republic”

By Kunle Alaye

It is not alien nor the first time in the history of Nigerian government and politics that political parties or ethnic groups would come together as allies to form a formidable political party to take charge of governance.

This of course is also allowed in contemporary democracy, as it gives room for healthy competitions among the politicians and their respective political parties. Again, gives opportunity to the electorates to have more options and be able to choose among the options available.

The German Sociologist (Marx Webber) sees “politics as the process through which politicians strife for political powers within given political parties”. The aphorism of the Webber’s school of thought therefore justify the incorrigible and unrepentant nature of politics/politicians in any so call sophisticated democratic settings including United States that you refer to as model for modern democracy.

Be that as it may, the “Gentleman Politicking” in Nigerian state, especially in this fourth republic, is undeniably encompassed with incessant political shenanigans, prebendal and agradiscent personified. The reason is not far fetched, it is simply because of the absence of altruism, patriotism and patrimonial interests of the Nigerian political elites.

In the first Republic, which collapsed in January 1966, there was a “coalition” between the then NCNC and NPC to form a parliamentary system successfully. Even though political parties in the first republic were also ethnically based anyway.

Ethnicity ordinarily, should not be seen as anything entirely bad in any pluralist state like Nigeria however, the politicisation of the ethnicity itself is the problem.  Ethnic groups through can come together by contributing to “nation building” particularly through federal character principles”. This obviously will not only enhance socioeconomic developments of such country but also build unity among such various multi ethnically based society.

“Distrust” among Nigerian politicians, especially with their northern counterparts which I make bold to say here, without any sense apology, in most cases has made the “Gentleman Politicking” practically impossible or work out in the current fourth republic

In 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy, after the post second military rule in the country, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, of course was supported by the northerner, based on the same ideology of “Gentlemanism”. He remained loyal, consistent and never derailed from the agreement he had with the  them (northerners).

Though, he also made several attempts, to retain himself for the third term agenda but having realised it was an effort in futility, he bowed down and sticked to support a northerner (Umaru Musa Yaradua) who succeeded him as the president of the country based on the agreement of the premise through which he came into power.

Sequel to the above justification, then I ask myself, what problem do some northerners not all of them anyway because the likes of late Balarabe Musa, Tafawa Balewa, Ahamadu Bello among others never portray such nature. Apparently, I asked why some of the contemporary northern politicians, including president Buhari himself who is even more guilty of nepotistic tendencies and ethnic politics, often find it so difficult to relinquish power to another ethnic group?

I have also come to realize that even when they (northerners) are willing to give up power, they are still invariably guilty of what I call “Imperial governance”: it means even though, they are out of power, they still want to be the kingmakers at such that they control and run the government for the stooge they may install into power.

By my critical findings and survey, I have come to realize that an average northerner can never give up two things: “ethnic consciousness and religion” when it comes to power change. So I sometimes laugh when some southerners feel they could form any allies or Gentleman Politicking with the northerners.

At this point, I wish to advise the southerners, regardless of the Geo-political zones: South West, South East or South-South to come out with a common voice and support a more tactical, popular, and heavyweight politician who can stand the test of suspicions and manipulations of northerners in the forthcoming 2023, elections.

Let us devoid of political sentimentalism, like age, unfounded certificate allegations, religion, ethnicity etc. Rather assess our favourite candidate for the presidency by political track records, achievements and unifying nature of such a person. Like I said in one of my articles that among all corrupt minds, the most corrupt can still emerge the best leader. I wish to close this article with the aphorism of (Harold Lasswell) “politics is who gets what, when and how”

So let us evaluate by what personality, what track records and how creative is the person when it comes to policy driven projects that can change lives of the masses? Note: There is a cleared difference between “integrity and creativity”. Likewise a cleared difference between a religious man and a morally upright human being.

Kunle Alaye, Fellow/Laureate, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) writes from the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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