By Dele Sobowale
“Power is the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance”. Max Weber, 1864-1920.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 197).
Two weeks ago, an uncouth fellow, most likely not a Christian, and brought up badly, sent me a message as a rejoinder to my simple arithmetic which showed clearly how the so-called progressives have been short-changing Christians SINCE 1979. A more thoughtful one asked me if I was not sacrificing merit for rotation by canvassing for a Christian governor in 2015.
To the one with sense, I sent back a question: “what is merit and why is it that no Christian has been found in Lagos State with merit for it?” Thereafter, the exchange of messages ended. But, on my part, that is not the end of the matter. I want anyone to tell me that quality which an aspirant for the office of Governor of Lagos State must possess which can only be found in Muslims and no single Christian. I want them listed for all of us to read.
However, as an economist, I have known for a long time that political office holding has become a means to distribute the wealth of every state in favour of those related to those who manage to grab power. A never-do-well, whose brother or father becomes Governor of a state suddenly starts riding Hummer Jeeps and commanding millions; if not billions. Where is the merit?
A few weeks ago, that fact was again re-emphasised for me. There were two appointments being celebrated. Several newspaper adverts were taken out by a third person, a member of the State House of Assembly, collecting millions with no better qualification than over two hundred thousand Lagosians. They were all from the same family.
Haba! Is it possible that all the people worthy of high office can come from the same family? Again, I ask: where is the merit? All that has been achieved right before our collective eyes is a vast distribution of Lagos State wealth. Even if Lagos is totally Muslim, it would still have amounted to inequity. But, Lagos State is not.
Since 1999, we have experienced this growing discrimination, based on religion, which should not be. Christians have supported every candidate brought out by the so-called progressives. All we have received in exchange is the “Spare Tyre” position – as the Deputy Governor has been called by an Igbo politician. As everyone knows, the Deputy Governor is just a shade better than the gateman in Governor’s office and can be removed, faster than the cleaner, when the Governor wants.
Since 1999, there had been two Governors in Lagos State. But, we have had five Spare Tyres – all Christians. They are removed on the flimsiest of excuses, and sometimes without any. One of the former Spare Tyres told me that major decisions of government were frequently taken without any input from the Deputy Governor’s office and, high level appointments are made and announced before the Spare Tyre knows about them. Such has been the humiliation which the highest placed Christian government official in Lagos State has suffered. For all I know, it is still happening now. In other states, the Deputy Governor has good chance of succeeding the governor. Here in Lagos, he/she can forget it. “Who born dog? Abi?”
I read an interview granted by Mr Joe Igbokwe, the ACN/APC Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, in which he made the claim that selection of candidates for office, including Governor’s office, had never been based on religion and the next one will not be different. Igbokwe, as an appointed spokesman for APC, and whose appointment is strongly influenced by one person, is not different from Reuben Abati. He is an echo; not a voice. He has a job to do and that is to please his employer. So, what he proclaimed was the official line; at best an opinion.
What Igbokwe and others cannot deny however is the fact that, in Lagos State, as in other states, politics had become the most potent weapon for distributing a state’s resources among its citizens. Jobs, contracts, scholarships, Mecca and Jerusalem Pilgrimages, land allocations, appointments to lucrative boards and commissions etc, invariably end up being inequitably distributed among those close to the corridors of power. And what closer relationship can there be than that of the Bedroom Cabinet – wife, mother, father, sister, brother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, etc of the governor or the political leader.
An appointment with the Governor, for which others wait anxiously for weeks, months, and sometimes, for ever, can be obtained by members of the Bedroom Cabinet the same day they think of it. Anyone, who believes the easy access to the bedroom of power confers no economic advantages, must be the first person to answer when “LIAR” is called. Nothing distributes wealth faster than access to political power anywhere in the world.
Let me provide a real example, names withheld, of course. Two days after INEC had pronounced a candidate the elected governor of the state, a visitor knocked on the door of his junior brother, who was known as a “pet” of the Governor-elect. The junior brother had an old banger for a car. But, that evening he became the proud owner of a brand new Toyota Camry – fully licenced and insured. The visitor “just wanted to come and congratulate him”. He also left an envelope containing “fuel money for the new car” – a mere N500,000. Visitor promised to come back after the inauguration of His Excellency to “wash it properly”. More loot was on the way.
Within days, the poor brother could not count the number of bales of Guinea brocades and cartoons of food and drinks – including choice wines – he received. Overnight, this poor struggling fellow was worth more than ten million. Within six months he had left his three bed-room apartment and was resident in GRA. That is the power of the Bedroom Cabinet.
The Bedroom Cabinet literally mints money irrespective of the governor’s performance in office. So, those wanting to beat back the Christian protest about discrimination by pointing to so-called performance must prove to us that none of our former governors’ families had benefited materially from their tenure beyond the statutory remuneration packages approved by law.
Everybody else buries his mother and father with his own money. This year, a mother and father were buried, extravagantly, at Lagos State’s expense. If that is not wealth distribution, somebody should tell me what is.
Four years and three months of Jakande’s government, eight years of Tinubu’s government and another eight years of Fashola’s government will mean that the Bedroom Cabinet in Lagos State, for twenty years and three months, under elected governors, had consisted largely of Muslims. As one of my Igbo friends says about such things, “They hold the yam and the knife and you can’t blame them if they throw large chunks to their families first”.
The rest of us are lucky to receive the crumbs – if anything at all. So, that is the bottom line. Whose Bedroom Cabinet will control Lagos State in 2015? Christian have filed out since the 1950s to vote for the progressives candidates; usually Muslims. All I see is wealth distribution by the Bedroom Cabinet. And, all we are saying is “Enough is enough”.
P.S. For those who want to send me insults and abuses let me help you out. Try fool, mad man, frustrated, lunatic etc. On the other hand you can request for my list of 1,000 insults to use against me. It won’t get you anywhere.