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So you want to run for President or Governor in 2017

By Dele Sobowale

“You must set out at dawn.” Professor Wole Soyinka.

Nigerian politicians are mostly mentally lazy. They wait until the last minute to start their races for the office of their choice or depend on luck or the caprices of the leadership of their political party. That explains why most of them are too frequently pawns in the hands of the “godfathers”.

Senator Ngige was sponsored by Chris Uba for governor of Anambra State and for months had to fork out billions of public funds until he rebelled. Then, the world was treated to the spectacle of a governor kidnapped in his own state and taken to a shrine until he was rescued by the same Nigerian Police who stood by while the “coup” was being carried out. Till today, nobody was prosecuted or punished for that atrocity committed under President Obasanjo. Why?

The story is important not only because it serves to illustrate why kidnapping became a thriving industry in the South East axis, but, how vulnerable an elected official can be if he fails to have a substantial number of the people of the state behind him to start with.

By contrast, former Governors Daniel (PDP), Obi (APGA), Mimiko (Labour/PDP) and Oshiomhole, (Labour/APC) of Ogun, Anambra, Ondo and Edo States, respectively, were not imposed on the electorates by any party leadership. Today arguably the most independent governor – like him or not – in Nigeria, is Ayo Fayose of Ekiti (PDP) State. Consequently, all those governors had independence of action.

It might have escaped most people to ask what made it possible for those five governors to succeed. That point will be touched upon presently. It is pertinent to add that if Rotimi Akeredolu had waited for the political leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to select him, he would not be governor of Ondo State today.

In each and every one of those cases, the governors virtually selected themselves by painstakingly going to the people at least two years before the primaries to offer themselves for election. In short, they worked for it – each, in his own unique way; but, all of them, by providing services to the people of the state for a long time.

However, since the biggest political prize is presidency, we might as well start from there and learn some lessons. Granted, the United States is different from Nigeria in many respects, but, there are similarities from which we can learn about presidential politics.

As the Watergate hearings in the US Congress was heading towards possible impeachment of President Nixon, one obscure Governor of Georgia State, and a farmer to boot, quietly started his campaign for the post-Watergate presidential election. Jimmy Carter knew that there was no way the Republicans will retain the presidency after Nixon’s departure. It was going to be the turn of the Democrats.

So, the man, not very rich by American standards, virtually abandoned Georgia to his Deputy Governor and went on the road to establish campaign offices in all the fifty(50) states of the Union – as well as Washington D.C. He followed this up by engaging in speaking engagements in small rural and suburban communities of several states of America. By the time the Democrats opened shop for their primaries, the only candidate of both parties who had visited all the fifty states several times was Carter. Despite lacking charisma, money and renown, he eventually triumphed over more glamorous opponents and went on to become US President.

“The early bird catches the worms” remains a universal adage. Although, there are no statistics to support it fully, there is substantial human experience to support it as a strategy for any human endeavour – especially politics. Here in Nigeria, the NCNC, founded by Herbert Macaulay, who handed leadership to Azikiwe, which came before the Action Group, led by Awolowo, in the South West, came within whiskers of forming the government in the old Western Region in the first elections.

That election could have resulted in an Igbo Premier of Western Region. Most of the success of the NCNC could be attributed to its long head start in party politics and it was also the most widespread political party of the era. Together with its allies, it was the only one among the three major political parties to win elections in all the three regions at the time. Starting early provides the candidate the advantage of monopolizing attention – particularly if he has a strong message to deliver to the electorate.

So, there is a strong message for those nursing presidential ambitions. It comes in two sentences. One, don’t be intimidated by anyone and any group of so-called political leaders. Two, there is a vacancy in Aso Rock. Circumstances beyond human comprehension and control have thrown open the gates of Aso Rock in 2019. The reasons for the second massage will not be disclosed now.

But, believe me, there will be vacancy in Aso Rock in 2019. So, if you want to be the occupant, you need to start early setting up structures in as many states as possible. You don’t need all thirty-six right away, but you need at least twelve key states. Forgive me for not disclosing. But, it will be difficult to win the presidential election without those twelve key states.

Governor Ayo Fayose, who is irrepressible, annoying, brash, but, politically astute, discovered the magic for capturing the people of Ekiti State when he ran for governor in 2003. He actually started long before 2003 to challenge the son of a “god” of Ekiti.

Who could ever have thought that the son of late General Adebayo could be defeated in Ekiti while Baba was alive? But, it happened and Baba lived to see it. He was impeached; came back and received an even bigger mandate. Each time, the HND holder defeated people better educated in a state which had long prided itself on its reverence for education. Why?

Part of the secrets for the successes of Obi, Mimiko, Oshiomhole, Fayose, and Akeredolu – all political mavericks – has been documented after a lot of hard work and research undertaken to unlock the secrets of success in politics. It might work for you in 2019.

To be continued…..


“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man…”President Buhari, Friday, March 10, 2017.

“Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.” I. F Stone. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 80.

Thank God Buhari is alive and Almighty Allah will prolong his life for telling Nigerians the truth about his prolonged stay in London. It is heart-warming to know that we have as President a man who tells the truth about important matters concerning himself.

At least, we now know that work in the presidency will be shared with Buhari providing the broad outlines of objectives to be achieved and Osinbajo will anchor implementation. There will be no more pretences. We can’t ask for more. Anybody can be sick – young and old.

However, by disclosing the nature of the therapy he underwent, Buhari had murdered the credibility and integrity of several top government officials and party leaders. Among these are his own appointed spokesmen in the Presidency, the Minister of Information who increasingly cuts a sorry figure for his utterances and the two leaders of the National Assembly, NASS, among others.

Given all the rumours, half-truths and bold faced lies they individually and collectively announced to Nigerians and the international community, few people will henceforth believe anything they say. They have gone a long way to prove I.F Stone right – “nothing they say should be believed.”

The self-deception and self-destruction started from the first day. When the President departed two days earlier than scheduled, most probably on the expert advice of his doctors here in Nigeria, the departure was advertised as “taking his annual leave to rest”.

Thereafter, the court jesters and the political clowns and professional dissemblers took over. There was no question asked about Buhari’s health situation which could not have been honestly answered by replying: “I don’t know”. The President who “Bolted” out of Nigeria before scheduled departure time, and as we now know, for dear life, we were told was comfortably resting. That was bad enough. The unequivocal denial that Buhari was sick then became the standard response. It exposed the character of each individual engaged in that attempted cover-up as nothing can ever do again…..


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