Season of sycophancy

A Cross section of Northen governors


Sycophancy is the name of the game. It was always so; it is always so; it will always be so. It is the familiar face of our national politics. It is what happens when you deny politics the principles that should drive it.

Last week the northern governors reportedly announced their endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. It was a classic case of eye service. We should expect more of this from groups and individuals. It is the season and the time for those who love Buhari more than the rest of us to proclaim it from the rooftops.

You may find it all so disgusting, patently dishonest and entirely self-serving but remember that sycophancy, like boot licking, has its rich rewards. When you become a constant blip on the president’s radar, nothing can go wrong for you.

Still, what did the governors set out to achieve with their endorsement? President Buhari is entitled by law and political party convention to two terms of four years each in office. His first term ends in 2019. He will then submit himself for the second and final term to the Nigerian electorate to decide his political fate. He does not need endorsements – individuals or groups. Once he decides to run for a second term, APC would back him and present him to INEC as its presidential candidate in 2019.

The president knows that too well. The northern governors know that too well too. No party constitution recognises an endorsement as a legitimate process in the selection of candidates for elective political offices. Yet, this has become the first hurdle a candidate must jump to secure his party nomination through the very fraudulent party primaries.

I am not aware of anyone else in APC who has already thrown his cap into the ring, despite suspicions swirling around former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, ready to challenge Buhari for the party nomination. So, the endorsement would seem to be blowing in the wind.

Perhaps, not. The northern governors believe it is incumbent on them to make their stand on Buhari’s second term quite clear now that many a rusty gun is being oiled in various quarters and re-alignments and re-re-alignments have taken the centre stage among the politicians. And so, they have spoken – and loudly too. Their loud and weighty voices should be sufficient to scare away all those who might mistakenly think that the APC party ticket for the 2019 presidential election is open to all card-carrying members of the party. Their endorsement was meant to tell those who nurse that unholy ambition, unholy in their view, to perish the thought.

But I sense a diabolical intent in all this. It is neither new nor unexpected, of course, but it still grates where it hurts. It would be naïve to discount the fact that there are men in the party who nurse presidential ambitions and have never hidden their ambition to run should the president decide not to. They wait and they pray. It is part of the game.

I am aware, of course, that some state governors have already secured their second term ticket through the endorsement of the party godfathers. What is good for the governors must surely be good for the president too, they must have reasoned. After all, Obasanjo and Jonathan enjoyed the same process of endorsements to pocket the party nomination.

I may be cynical but I do not believe the endorsement was for the sake of the president. It is entirely in the political interest of the endorsers. I suspect they believe that their support for the president’s undeclared second term ambition would achieve some critical personal purposes.

One, it would force the president to hasten his decision for his second term because their endorsement has cleared the path for him. Two, some of these governors are first termers. And they are unmitigated disasters and embarrassing failures through incompetence, corruption, arrogance and disdain for good governance and the rule of law.

They have failed their people and they have squandered the APC promises to the people. And brought shame and derision to the party. Thanks to them and their ilk in the main opposition party, the PDP, they have tethered the fine tenets of democracy to their sickening megalomania. Still, these men are angling for a second term too in the arrogant belief that their right to do so is a given. Their endorsement of the president would make the president notice them and help clear the way for their unearned second term ambition.

Three, some of these endorsers are in their last lap; their second four-year term ends in 2019. Of course, they would nominate themselves and head for the Senate. The upper legislative chamber has become the great gathering of former state governors.

What is at stake here is that some of these men are candidates for EFCC questioning. I have a sneaking feeling they believe that their endorsement of the president would force him to reciprocate the gesture and thus save them from the EFCC noose once they take on the new title of ex-governors and the Teflon of immunity wears off and leaves them like emperors short of clothes.

Well, life is a gamble; political life even more so. What I find objectionable is the fact that the governors are pressurizing Buhari to make his 2019 stand known early enough for their own sake because they know that a lot is riding on the president’s decision either way – to run or not to run.

I am inclined to think that what is upper most in the mind of the president right now is his health. He is still recuperating. Only he can decide if he is healthy enough to take on the rigours of electioneering campaigns. Those who wish him well, as some of us down the rungs of the ladder do, must allow him to recuperate sufficiently and make his decision on his political future known at the appropriate time.

I verily believe that Buhari has not overdrawn his deposit in the bank of public goodwill. If he runs again, he can trust millions of his supporters in 2015 to root for him and still give him the vote.

But the APC party moguls would do well to be alive to changing social and political circumstances. In 2015, the nation was burdened by the PDP fatigue and wanted much more than a fresh breath of air promised by Jonathan.

Currently, the nation is confused by the confusion in the APC. There are more ambitious men in the party seeking to replace Buhari in Aso Rock than there are in the PDP. I just hope that a) their ambition would not blind them to the enormity of the challenges they and their party now face and b) that their ambition would not turn incendiary and burn down the house millions of us helped to build as a viable alternative to PDP.

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