Like democracy, power is not a thing but a process. That is what makes it real. Those who seek it must as a matter of necessity endeavour to know it. He has demonstrated a brilliant knowledge of power. Not even IBB can be said to equal OBJ. The Egba High Chief and father of loquacious children is a political genius. I am not making categorical statements here given that politics and politicking are not easily reducible to controlled experiment. What I am however hypothesising about is the relationship between knowledge of what power is and efforts put in the attainment of power. My theory is not meant to capture universal truths but to identify some political regularities that I can recommend to politicians to pursue. Be rest assured, I do not intend to replicate Niccolo Machiavelli’s treatise on statecraft. What I will assign myself to do after the laborious presentation of OBJ is to suggest what the person that wishes to occupy Aso Rock in 2007 must do to get there.
For the aspirants, it may be helpful to be as cunning as the 1999 General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd). Take a close look at the God-fearing Obasanjo of 1999 and the one exerting and expending the so much energy to extend his stay in office beyond 2007.Measure the God in him with the weird and wonderful things happening in the Niger Delta. All of a sudden hostages are taken and after well publicized negotiations they are released. All too soon the Army General that leveled Odi is now negotiating with hostage takers. If that were a mind blowing puzzle then the fact that very soon the country would not be safe for elections should be a good Ph.D thesis in political subterfuge. Let the intending successor of Obasanjo study how the corporation of Nigeria has been clinically privatized to a coterie of individuals who are all loyal to Mr. President and who are by all standards capable of insisting on who continues to rule or who can succeed Mr. President. So the ambitious man that wants to succeed President Obasanjo should be sure that he has some thing up his sleeves to outsmart Mr. President and his third term soldiers. The intending successor should have the patience of a vulture. He or she must be federal and catholic in his views concerning Nigeria. He could be an al-Qaeda or a religious fanatic but he must be angelic in looks and voice. He she must master the art of pretence. He must be as sly as sly can be. He must not ignore Newspaper headlines. They are important. He or she should me a Mr. Nigeria or mother Nigeria. That is an easier way of fooling Nigerians.
It would also be helpful to understand that the stakes are higher now. By 2007 the aggregate of political and politicking knowledge that the people would have acquired would be way out of the reach of 1999.The political soldiers have been maturing and their knowledge and capabilities in political warfare is improving by the day. As General Buhari would advise, the strength of the army of thugs required to steal the people’s mandate in 2007 would have to be in a hundred fold more than those that robbed the people’s mandate in 1999 and 2003. Those who are banking on the miracles of the god of money to hoodwink the people must as a matter of necessity know that they would need the extraordinary benevolence of that god for them to have sufficient money with which to buy the people’s votes. The Tafa Balogun saga must have taught the police rank and file that policing elections is big and profitable business. Whoever would be IG of Police would as of necessity spread the election goodies around. Most security agencies are getting hungrier by the day and would be waiting for the elections to get something extra for their families. The Godfathers are beginning to lose faith in the political class and would insist on upfront rewards for the use of their political structures.
The aspirants, especially those that have held similar offices before under different power orientations and those dreaming of acceding to the office from their present public offices, should realize that their past and present score cards ( which in this case include their looting records) would be crucial to the actualization of their dreams. Of course, present political linkages and connections are vital but the fraternity of the voting people should not be under rated or ignored. This is where I recommend the media to the clever aspirant. Those that have not had friends in the media should scout for friends now. The paper angel is more real and nearer to the people than the real political angel. Those who are dismissing some aspirants as mere creations of the media are missing the point.99 per cent of the people do not have the opportunity of crosschecking or conducting reality checks on public actors. It is the press that present and define these characters and more often than not it is the pictures of these people as presented by the media that the people would hold. In winning the media therefore, aspirants should know that the media has evolved and internalize the concept of pay as you use. The era of the brown envelope is gone. In some cases the ‘Ghana- must- go bags’ are not sufficient and this is where those that have established their own media outfits have an edge, though limited.
For the people, the race for Obasanjo’s successor has presented many opportunities but I would emphasize just a few. It provides the most effective opportunity to share from the national cake which in this sense includes looted funds and fortunes. For those who sold their votes at the last elections and are still willing to play ball they should employ smart MBA holders to teach them how to get the best returns from their votes. Let those who want to buy your votes know that the state and its structures that they want to occupy are your creation and therefore exist at your mercy. If you got peanuts because you sold yourself as a monkey last time, this time around please put on the tack of a race horse at least.