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A survival guide for politicians in the Buhari era

By Tabia Princewill
”You’re only as good as  the people you surround yourself with”: it’s a popular saying which holds much wisdom when one thinks of the Nigerian situation, as we all eagerly await President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list. So is: ”Be brave enough to let go of those weighing you down”.

Fortunately, the President’s Spartan, well-documented strength of character, means he will have no issues abiding by this. In life, there is also the fact that some people will get close to you simply to benefit from your success, even though they bring nothing to the table.

Such people pretend to be on your side and to have your best interest at heart, whereas they pursue their own selfish agenda: one thinks of the members of the House of Assembly and the Senate, especially those who defected to the APC from the PDP and defied their new party’s wishes to crown themselves the leaders of both chambers.

I’ll add another popular saying at this point “there’s something wrong with your character if opportunity determines your loyalty”. With more defections from PDP to APC announced in Bayelsa and Patience Jonathan allegedly supporting the APC’s gubernatorial candidate, I think a (satirical) guide for the smart politician in this new dispensation, is in order.

Political dealings

Be strong. Attempt to remain unblemished (that is, if you were transparent and “pure” in your political dealings and calculations to begin with). Remember, your obligations are to the Nigerian people, not to any kingmaker or godfather, even if he (I detest the fact that it is still so rarely a she) did sponsor your candidacy. Remember always, your company determines your character and Nigerians are a lot more vigilant and critical than they once were: I’m sure most politicians in our country hate social media, or the instant spread of news (both true and false).

If you’re worried about spending money that isn’t yours (that is, your constituents’ money) refrain from cultivating certain friendships. However, it might be difficult to avoid certain friends all together, so instead set boundaries. What is corruption?

Ask yourself this question at multiple times every day, as you brush your teeth, as you get dressed, etc. There are no more goats, no more yams, no animals, or produce of any kind, so tread carefully. This goes for both old and new APC members.

Furthermore, if your friend, a known kingpin in the high stakes game of politics who has fun with other people’s money, asks you to hop on a private jet out of the country for a week or two, during the House recess for instance, ask him to do something a little more low-key.

A real friend will value your company over the disgrace (and incarceration) relating to both your names being associated with corruption, the day Nigerians get angry enough to demand to see both chambers’ finances. If you are one of those who owes banks money and is living a false life, right now would be a good time to keep a low profile.

Forget about keeping up with the Joneses, they’re broke. If you are new to politics, you’re probably looking at people who’ve been in the game for decades, who arrived at a time when corruption was “permissible” and you’re probably wishing you had all that money.

Perhaps you’re wishing you were more visible or more involved during the Jonathan era. Perhaps you own no private jet. You should be thanking your lucky stars: if you’re new, you probably have nothing to hide (yet) so Baba won’t have too much of an issue with you.

So resist the urge to overspend as it’s a huge red flag and often a blatant signifier of corruption as legitimate business owners, i.e. people who work for their money pace themselves, often aren’t extravagant and exhibit decorum in all they do.

Whether it’s the latest bag for your wives and girlfriends, or fancy schools abroad, remember Nigerians will judge you on social media. If you’re one of the few who had a legitimate source of income before politics, Nigerians will know. If you’re not, well, Baba is watching you.

Keep being introspective: keep asking yourself questions. Do those criticising me have a point? Am I wrong? Is it my friends’ influence? Consider your situation carefully: the fear of EFCC right now is the beginning of wisdom. If you are still in PDP, know that resentment is a fruitless emotion: indulge in a bit of self-criticism, understand what went wrong and forget about ethnic sentiments.

This last part, if I might be so bold, is for Baba himself. Remember, when dealing with these many different categories of people, old and new friends, that most want to see you fail. The change for Nigeria, which you represent, is beyond their understanding. Conventionally, one would say, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

In this case sir, you can feel free to judge them by what they have. What many of these people own was not acquired through legitimate means. This isn’t about envy on Nigerians’ part but about righting wrongs: it’s great to be a millionaire, but not by playing Russian roulette with other people’s money. It’s great to be a Nigerian again.

Sen. Godswill Akpabio and the PDP senators

PDP has always done things a certain way; so it’s having trouble with the new direction the country is taking. During its time in office,the Department of State Services, DSS, harassed those who didn’t toe the line. EFCC was selective and went after political opponents; election tribunals were never fair, granting victory only to those supported by First Ladies and their lackeys.

So it’s no wonder that the PDP today would like to believe the same thing is happening all over again, except that this time, they are the victims, or so they would like Nigerians to believe. However, corruption has no ethnic group, religion or political party.

The PDP Senate caucus must realise this (I believe they do and their press conferences and releases accusing the President of selectively tackling corruption are merely the theatrics of frightened, drowning men).

The President, like his counter parts internationally, doesn’t micro-manage government agencies: the EFCC has had files sitting in its offices gathering dust for years, evidence against “untouchables” at the time.

Two wrongs don’t make a right: if, in the past, some corrupt people were allowed by other corrupt leaders to get away with wrong-doing, it doesn’t justify others for doing wrong in the future. Furthermore, no matter the order in which justice is served, that is, no matter what persons are convicted first (regardless of party allegiance etc.), let Nigerians rest assured that justice will be served because the end of sentiment, bias and feckless patronage which has destroyed our country, is gradually upon us.

All over Nigeria, politicians, their fraudulent business associates, fear this new era; that is why they attempt to trick Nigerians into supporting a halt of all investigations, under the guise that they are selective: we will not be fooled.

Turai Yar’Adua

The rumour mill in Nigeria is perhaps one of the most prolific on earth. This former First Lady’s daughter was invited by the EFCC to discuss matters pertaining to her time as first lady of Kebbi State.

Apparently, the Yar’Aduas also believe they are being “victimised” by Buhari. What about the millions of Nigerians who were “victimised” by successive governments who did nothing to uplift their lives? Rather, they kept our commonwealth for themselves, stashed away in foreign bank accounts.

It always baffles me how our elite never seem to see the connection between their actions, poverty in Nigeria and the need to pay for said actions. “Don’t write cheques, you can’t cash”, is a popular American saying; so is “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the (jail) time”.


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