I’ve discovered that most of the young people aspiring for public office have zero clue how real politics works especially those who genuinely want to make a positive difference.
You see becoming the President of Nigeria was one of my many dreams and fantasies. But these days I’m not enthused by the idea of public office in Nigeria not to mention the presidency.
I hope to educate some of them so that we don’t keep repeating the problem where good people can’t get into political office. Also I think a lot of people aren’t in tune with some political realities that always characterize any political decision in Nigeria, whether good bad or neutral. So here are some of the things I think you need to know.
1. It’s impossible to get into public office without cutting deals.
Well except it’s local government then it might be possible. The truth is if you’re going to make it into public office you’re going to cut deals with political devils, if you’re lucky a few angels, but you will cut deals none the less.
You’ll cut deals with Godfathers, fellow politicians, big money spenders, cabals, consortia and every political shareholder you can think off. You’ll exchange endorsements for appointments, award of contracts for campaign money, name it. It’s the nature of the business.
The problem is there are deals that will leave you handicapped in office. On certain issues your past dealings will try to force you to look the other way and you’re torn between keeping your word and making more enemies. So be weary of what deals you make, think about the future and know what’s too much to risk.
2. Balance of power is a pain in the arse!
In a democracy balance of power exists so that no arm of government becomes too powerful but it will come back to haunt you especially in Nigeria.
You will weep and feel real pain when you’re the President and the National Assembly won’t pass a gender equality bill, or a new wage bill, or a salary cut. You think it is a joke till you’re a governor and house of assembly wakes up and impeaches you for owning an illegal farm and the Supreme Court is not in the mood to speed up proceedings. All because they don’t like you.
Maybe you’ll find yourself in the legislature and discover you’re the only senator with small sense. What do you do then, tweet or pad budget?
3. The Fact That You’re There To Make A Difference Is Enough Motive To Kill You.
You want to remove people’s daily bread and you think they’re going to sit down and watch you. The Nigerian political elite and the masses aren’t the same type of people. The elite know how to fight for their piece of cake and they fight hard.
I’ve always said this, anyone who wants to change a nation this messed up shouldn’t expect to come out of Aso Villa or any State House alive or with the complete set of family members that entered there with him.
Ordinary NFF and Oliseh was complaining his life was under threat. What do you think happens in the corridors of real power? My friend wake up!
If someone’s not actively trying to kill you (which is almost impossible), the work load enough will change your life. That’s if you’re actually working anyway.
4. Nigerians Are Your Greatest Enemies
Nigerians tell you they want a better country, but that’s about all they’ll agree on. If you appoint two Yourba people back to back Hausa’s will yell, two Igbo’s or Hausa’s back to back and everything won’t be a hit I assure you. But sometimes you have to appoint the most competent people even though people will throw all sorts of shade at you. If you get the job done well, they’ll shut up.
It’s bad enough we have an ethnic problem, combine it with religion and we have a nuclear weapon of self destruction. You must try to threat everyone fairly, trust your instincts and having your pastor or imam as your advisor isn’t always best except it’s your personal life.
Remember Islam isn’t terrorism, atheists aren’t the devil and Christians aren’t chief judges.
Also remember that a lot of times unfortunately rice wins elections over sound words. I’m not advocating you give out rice, but you need to be a person the people can touch and relate to, you need to be one of them, one of us.
5. Your Team
This is extremely hard. Once you have a bad team you’re done. If you want to make genuine change with them you might as well resign.
Hire competency above connections, and find the right balance when cutting deals so you don’t give out too many key positions to people you cut deals with.
Odds are your team is going to be 50-50, half the people there you genuinely wanted them, the other half are there because you owe people favors. Remember this when cutting deals.
It goes without saying that you need to pick a team of people you can work with but you also don’t need to be afraid to fire people, but don’t let it become habitual it shows lack of consistency.
One thing I must add though is make sure you don’t have a team of sycophants. Don’t be afraid to have one or two people who can be confrontational especially in closed doors, they keep you on your toes and walking the straight line they are also difficult to handle so you have to be smart about it.
6. Don’t Run for any office without knowing the state of the offices finance and human resources or having a plan to fix it.
I don’t need to say anything else.
7. After all is said and done you can still be a disaster.
Sometimes things you never prepared for can and will happen. Like a sudden economic meltdown, insurgency, strike action from overlooked situations, natural disasters, scandals from the past. I mean there are a whole plethora of things that could make you’re time in office a disaster so prepare for the unexpected.
8. Watch your tongue on the campaign.
Don’t make promises you know you can’t keep. Don’t make promises without plans of action to achieve them. At the same time, don’t undersell yourself because your opponent will lie through their teeth.
Avoid taking campaign low blows (I’m talking about legal ones) except they are extremely necessary but make sure you always have the dirt to use.
Lastly be prayerful, realistic and positive. Politics is a game with dire consequences. Keep your biases out of government houses. If you still need more knowledge on real politics, read up on Machiavelli, watch series like 24, House of Cards, Scandal, even Suits, and there’s this show on EbonyLife TV called The Governor. And for goodness sake, watch the news!
God bless Nigeria!