Succession By Imposition: An Unprofitable Venture and Electorate’s Loss, By Zainab Suleiman Okino
The bitter lesson of history these men of power never learn is that the enterprise of ensuring their anointed candidates are installed as governors at all costs is an unprofitable and thankless one. Sadly, the people they govern are the ultimate losers.
Desperation is a fundamental issue in succession crisis in our political development. Nowhere has this manifested than in the race for who becomes governor when the position becomes vacant in some of the states of the federation. The out-going worries about who his successor is because in most cases, he wants someone he can manipulate, and who will as well cover his dirty tracks and ugly past.
The build-up to the Edo State governorship election was a clear demonstration of everything that is wrong with this kind of elitist arrangement. Having single-handedly picked Governor Obaseki, ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole left no one in doubt, that the election meant everything to him, including his own political survival. The other alternative is to become a potential guest of the EFCC after office. The campaigns, the election proper and his body language were all evidence of a man afraid of his shadow, a man clearly scared about how posterity would judge him.
However, if the past experiences of others are anything to go by, Oshiomhole might be in for a big surprise. Oshiomhole would soon discover the meaning of lost investment and how his effort might not be worth the trouble, when (not if) his anointed successor turns against him. And you cannot blame Obaseki either. Not when he is confronted with a huge debt overhang, an empty treasury, ballooned wage bill, huge liabilities, and certainly not when he is presented with a campaign finance bill he is expected to offset. Most importantly, he will spend the next two to three years trying to clear the mess, before he can think of campaign promises, which anyway will soon become tales. Any surprise then why the godson, most often than not, rebels against his erstwhile godfather?
Between the godfather and the godson, there is no love lost. Their relationship is characterised by mutual suspicion and subtle enmity. This is also the reason why governors are reluctant to anoint their deputies? It is a major problem threatening our peculiar political arrangement. In most cases, the governor does not carry his deputy along. He surrounds himself with cronies and close associates—not constitutionally recognised—who daily drum lies into his ears that his deputy does not wish him well and will expose him if he succeeds him. Yet, the deputy governor is constitutionally recognised and must have been picked for geographical balancing, especially in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural states.
The desperation to install their anointed successors, by out-going governors, is a pointer to the fact that the purpose of governance is more for personal pecuniary gains than the common good of all.
Between the godfather and his godson, the evil machinations of established politicians and supporters, who constantly remind the ‘new kid on the bloc’ to establish his own structure and ‘be his own man’ eventually will tear them apart and create unhealthy rivalry. In more cases than less, they go their separate ways.
From 1999 up till date, only two deputy governors have successfully taken over from their predecessor-governors; in Zamfara and lately Kano states, but with disastrous ends. After serving as deputy governor for eight years, Mahmud Shinkafi was supported by his predecessor, Ahmed Sani, Yeriman Bakura to become governor in 2007. Shinkafi was still in his first term of four years when he and Yeriman Bakura fell apart. The latter went ahead to sponsor then federal lawmaker and current governor, Abdulaziz Yari, to become governor on the platform of the defunct ANPP against Shinkafi who had earlier decamped from the ANPP to PDP. They have remained opposed to each other since then, because as at 2015, when Buhari emerged, Shinkafi gave his support to Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.
As explained earlier, it is fruitless for an incumbent to fight to install a successor when it will all end in mutual suspicion, shock, disappointment and rivalry. Such is the situation between now ex-governors Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji of Abia State, with the former finding no home in a major political platform until his recent move into the APC. Former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and the current governor, Ganduje of Kano State also represent a classic case of predecessor/successor rivalry. Many had thought they had a robust relationship, if you take into account the smooth transition of power between them. There can only be two plausible explanations that could be deduced from their frosty relationship; either Kwankwaso wants to remote-control the man he thought he ‘made’ or it is about the perceived 2019 ambition of Kwankwaso or both. Ganduje has effectively aligned himself with the presidency to perhaps spite his former boss, while also in a hurry to obliterate Kwankaso’s legacies including the signature “Kwankwassiya” red cap and imprints on public buildings and other visible infrastructure, a concept that is perceived as attempts by Kwankwaso to recreate Kano in his own image.
The desperation to install their anointed successors, by out-going governors, is a pointer to the fact that the purpose of governance is more for personal pecuniary gains than the common good of all. The bitter lesson of history these men of power never learn is that the enterprise of ensuring their anointed candidates are installed as governors at all costs is an unprofitable and thankless one. Sadly, the people they govern are the ultimate losers.