By Busuyi Mekusi
It is often propagated that the sky is big enough for birds to fly in escapades, without colliding on one another. Even though most known animal kingdoms are not insulated from competitive contestations, those of human beings have demonstratively been challenged by conflations, induced by greed, domineering tendencies, exploitative propensities, selfish considerations, etc. As I have intervened in the past, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and George Orwell’s Animal Farm are some of instances that the fictionalisation of the oddity of man reinforces the validity of embellished crudity. It is no longer news that both primordial and modern eras have their peculiar forms of leadership, with every dispensation riddled with one inadequacy or another.
With communism, oligarchy, monarchy and democracy contesting spatial relevance in different corners of the world, with variants that are paraded as towering far and above others in a relational rather than a relative way, democracy in Africa has been made a mockery of, with sit-tight civilian greedy despots converting offices that should be occupied in temporality to hereditary permanency. As corruption and executive recklessness are dotting the compromised political lines, military juntas that are evenly collaborators in national despoliation have always seized powers for selfish aggrandizements, smoked in nationalism and patriotism. Just as lamentations were high about the recent desecration of democracy in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, Gabon went under the military, even as Paul Biya’s rape of democracy in Cameroon is subjected to close scrutiny. Democracy is becoming unpopular in Africa, as misguided citizens celebrate the overthrow of democratic governments, due to disorientation occasioned by the irresponsibility of the political class.
Your Lordship, His Lordship, or Their Lordships are some of the expressions used to address a judge, bishop, or male member of the nobility. Nobility is today either legitimately earned, rudely grabbed or viciously acquired, as veneration is given to discriminatory treatments in human relationships. However genuine the socio-political and economic standing of an individual is, some people have argued that the antecedents would not be absolutely free from under-dealings, manipulations or viciousness, clothed in discreetness. This is not to forget that the occupation of an office in any human society coffers enormous respect and relevance on the occupier, with rupturing changes leading to reversals; from bad to good and from good too bad, vice versa! The king and queen ants do not just enjoy the splendour of their placement, but largely feed on the sweat of their foot soldiers.
Tangles between executive office holders and their lieutenants are not strange to Nigeria political engineering. Obasanjo was visibly unsettled by the intrigues of his malevolent vice, Atiku, to the extent that it was rumoured the former had to prostrate for the latter to secure a second term; the contentious aborted third term is a different ball game. Similarly volatile in political relations is the issue of godfather that is simply configured as an attempt by someone with a short stature to stand on the shoulder of a tall sturdy personality. The principle of vicarious rise in politics is analogous to the letters of the word of Archimedes who opines that “give me a place to stand, and I shall move the world”. For every politician that has a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, shaking the tables to one’s advantage is predictably arguably beneficial.
Since the return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999, some state governors have had running battles with their deputies, in relation to succession. Tinubu and Bucknor-Akerele/Pedro were at daggers drawn in Lagos, Akeredolu and Agboola fell apart in Ondo, Oshiomhole and Shaibu sang discordant tunes in Edo, etc. Shaibu’s repeat of political strives with another governor boss of his, Obaseki, smacks of certain negativity on the part of the former. It is no longer news that Obaseki and his deputy, Shaibu, have been benignly involved in upstaging each other in media propaganda, given the non-cooperation of Obaseki with the ambition of Shaibu to succeed him. With accusation of treachery hanging on the neck of Shaibu in order for him to be impeached, as alleged by him, it was not unexpected that Shaibu was subjected to public ignominy when he was openly denied access for exchanges with his boss.
As much as the divisive relationship of the governor and his deputy would negatively impact on governance, it was too abrasive that Shaibu would be denied access to his boss at a Christian service to commemorate the anniversary of the state creation. In a video that went viral, Shaibu was prevented from reaching Obaseki for pleasantries while the latter looked away innocently, with only his wife waving a dismissive hand at Shaibu in conciliation. It was very clear that the security personnel that dished Shaibu this opprobrium must have acted on instruction, as the Deputy Governor, in the order of protocol, would not have been a security risk. As it is said, a misunderstanding would turn a song to a scathing satirical proverb! Without going into the culpability that induced Shaibu’s vulnerability, it is simply arguable that Obaseki’s assumption of priggish Lordship in the temple of God is an aberration that is open to interrogation.
Ordinarily, the religious space of worship that was constituted when this snobbish disposition occurred presupposed the presence of the supreme God, who every human personality there should be answerable to. To this end, a relationship that is ordinarily vexatious in that circumstance should attract reconciliation, restitution and restoration. Therefore, the unforgiving attitude of Obaseki towards Shaibu calls to question the essence of the gathering that was to secure the cooperation of the divine in the aspirations of mortals. Amidst the pretentious sanctimony that characterised the religious service or worship, it is evident that it is the thin skin that covers the bosom of the wicked that denies people from seeing his wickedness.
Obaseki’s religious hypocrisy was legendarily reminiscent of that painted in Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy, where racial consideration discriminatorily informed the sitting arrangement in a white-controlled church, at a time equality before God is preached. The hypocritical pretences in the text that are analogous to contemporary experiences include adultery among the white colonisers who are neck-deep in abominable practices while pretending to want to exorcise blacks of their inglorious past. Leadership at all levels across the world, particularly in Africa, are replete with political insincerity, economic incontinency, and religious hypocrisy. If past political records are anything to go by, and notwithstanding the restraining order of the court, the Edo State House of Assembly might impeach Shaibu, in consummation of the exculpation that was rehearsed by His Lordship Obaseki in the temple of God.
In Lagos State, following the upward political migration of Tinubu from the Lagoon-side to the Savannah-Belt, where ‘wicked Wike’ is Landlord, Their Lordships Sanwo-Olu and Obasa are locking horns in what looks like the scramble for the political lever or conch of the State. The social media offered some explanations for why the old formerly closely-knitted political family is almost in disarray, with political ascendancy playing very significant roles. It is hoped that the flickering fire would end soonest, as the bellowing political smokes could distract Tinubu at the centre. Apart from the burdens of leadership in Nigeria, distractions in the sub-region of West Africa are no longer personal mistakes but collective missteps.
Leadership, globally, remains a touchy concept to relate to, and an instrument by the virulence to haunt and hurt their detractors, even when the contrary is staged. Putin was almost gloating over Prigozhin’s death, that he made ‘mistakes’ but ‘achieved results’. While not recommending Putin’s approach to leadership, we must insist, as Nigerians, that the mistakes members of the political class are making should not stop them from achieving results, in the order of Prigozhin. Leadership is still enmeshed in contradictions all over the world, and Africa has particularly descended into the arena of political turbulence, while military alternatives remain abominable, notwithstanding the attempts to capture the sensibilities of citizens through impoverishment and external manipulations.
As we move towards either the inadvertent or deliberate termination of the ongoing civilisation and dispensation through our eclectic devaluation, we hope the investment of Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, the designer of the Nigerian National Flag, would not be in vain, as we mourn his departure, and the non-realisation of his projections of peace, unity and profitability through natural wealth, as encased in his colours of white and green in the flag, in the season of renewed hope.