…Cont’d from last Monday
These thoughts coursed up and down my mind as I ruminated on what politics and politicians had put me through over the last three decades. When I first ran for House of Assembly in 2007, the then outgoing governor (as his closest allies recounted to me) swore that only over his dead body would he allow me. In fact, after one of my solid backers, Akparawa Godwin Ntuk Udeh, who then served as International President of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, had been briefed, he invited me over, gave me a long talk about demobilising. Quoting Lamentations 3:37, I told him I shall never back down.
Why did that otherwise fine governor aim so low? I was accused of having deployed my media platforms against his administration. Well, that might have been correct but it was not the truth, the whole truth. BUSH HOUSE NIGERIA, then and now, has been as constant as the northern star. We report(ed) the truth, per time.
The man himself, long out of the high office, would accept that no other media professional or firm can be said to (have) support(ed) him more. For example, when he envisioned the five-star hotel and the airport and came under heavy attacks by our people who felt both projects were unnecessary, it was BUSH HOUSE NIGERIA that went out of its way to prove to the people why they had to clap rather than boo. Sadly, I learnt another profound political lesson the hard way. Nigerian political office holders only remember or forget or appreciate what they want and at their convenience.
Which reminds me of all that transpired when I reran for the same office in the next election cycle. First, I had been drafted into the race somewhat by the incumbent governor. A week to the event, he told me directly that he had asked the returning officer, Mr. Udeme Esset, to not announce the result of the primaries; that he wanted me to know who made me candidate. Alas, once the same governor had been notified that the process had ended and that Mr. Esset had driven out of Akwa Ibom State headquarters of Nigeria Police, where the primaries held, he called me up and wanted to know the results.
Taken aback, I reminded him what he had told me. He exclaimed why I would believe him to the extent of allowing anyone drive off with my unannounced results. That day, I learnt a twin political lesson; namely, believe no one and “fear” everyone. Till tomorrow, I can never believe the man, nor can I stop “fearing” him.
Those who wonder why I turned down his second appointment offer as Abuja/Northern Nigeria Liaison Officer in 2012 as well as when he wanted to nominate me for commissioner in 2016 should feel free to add, to subtract and to contextualise. I “fear” that man. And, I don’t believe him. The man is “too much!”
Unfortunately, things have not been any healthier in the new testament. When, in 2019, Gov. Udom Emmanuel named me his Special Assistant, that is in addition to my board membership, the first and only political office man I went to tell (since he’s from my local government area) advised me -feigning anger- to tear the appointment letter. He said that was not what the big man had told him I would get and indeed that the offer was too below me. I kept thinking about the whole stuff until 2022, when I had seen, known and heard enough of the guy’s antics to hold a thanksgiving service in my heart to thank my stars that I hadn’t heeded the misadvice.
The same man went to the highest political quarters in the land with tales that I was supporting another political party; away from our PDP. At the end, everyone in our local government area and state found out that the little big man had only used my name to try to divert attention from himself. It’s out there: in the 18th March, 2023, ballot, using his elder brother as cover, this man -a great beneficiary of political favouritism- actually used the resources of our party to sponsor the opposition to stop a woman from being favoured by God. Of course, he failed in a landslide because she passed -in a landslide!
At this juncture, suffice it to mention in passing two other political mishaps I went through: the kidnap of one of the most important women in my life plus a blackmail video by someone I call a feeding finger biter. I swear, a Michael BUSH life story book shall be a bestseller. Why is your face like that, dear hater? I shall send you an autographed copy next year, willy nilly!
The foregoing is not my handwriting. That is not me. That is only the politician me. I have not always been like that.
Politics makes you tough, pugnacious, daredevilish. In Nigeria, you’re not a politician if you show any sign of goodness or weakness. Nigerian politicians manufacture and tell tales everywhere, every time; just to gain undue advantage. They will tell anti-you tales and sway even your wife!
Yes, Sir: things are that bad in politics Nigeriana. I am at the crossroads now. I have looked left, and right, and left again umpteenth times already but still am undecided whether to go left as an alarming majority do. Should I join them seeing this is how 99.99% of them strike gold?
Hello, God? Are you there? Can you hear me? Dear Dolly, did He answer you because all I hear is deafening silence?
No, please: I am going right and right forever. This is what the Spirit of God tells me. They taunted my House of Assembly candidate, Dr Itoro Etim, how I never won any election before; that as her Campaigns Director General, I shall lead her aground. She won with over 6,000 votes surplus; even more than their own margin.
I bet you, in the buildup to 2027 they shall do everything to sign me. But, it shall be too late. We shall teach them how better to deploy their office. Write this down, even if you can’t.
That’s another thing. Politicians deploy words and actions to intimidate. Use yours even if you don’t have. To intimidate, use your mouth, use your head, use your feet, use your legs, use your face, use your name, use your connection, use your money; use everything that you have and even everything that you don’t have.
In politics Nigeriana, all’s fair. When they go low, you must at that instant go lower but never forget you belong in a higher realm. Hurriedly strike back and hurriedly revert to factory setting. Never forget who you are: never forget this ground rule.
It is imperative you never forget you. Never forget who you are. Never be like them, but there again never let them get away with too much impunity in the name of politics. Show them that it takes two to tango, and that you also know and can play the game.
However, in all the madness, never tell lies; even against them. That is not your nature: never copy their nature; never be like them. When they go low, you go lower by calling them out; explaining to the world what they are doing. Never sit there and whine; politics Nigeriana makes no reservations for weaklings!
Furthermore: stay clean. Never cut dirty deals, never do deals that give you away as a desperado. Something interesting happened during the 18th March ballot counting that you should know. In the first of the two elections, my party won with 11 votes.
In the second poll counting, the moment it began to seem as if we would lose, one of my strong men took me aside and whispered the need for me to leave so the boys could disrupt the process. I did not have to think about it. I said no and as they feared we lost by two votes. So, what?
In politics and everything else, I should not win all the time. I swear by my honour that I shall never ever be the politician who cuts corners in order to win everything, every time. I do not suffer any form of complex; inferiority or superiority. If I don’t deliver my unit or ward or whatever in one election, I shall work harder to do so in the next.
I make the above vow conscious of what played out later that night at Idu, headquarters of Uruan local government area, where collation took place. A member of the opposition, who hails from my village, someone I consider a better politician than myself, someone I am told was working with a topshot in my own party to sabotage themselves (not me), after his shenanigans in the village cut no ice, colluded with other unsuspecting party agents to cancel results of one of the units in my ward, where I am leader, so that I be mocked as the Campaigns DG who lost his ward. So, what? How does losing in any contest diminish me?
This is not about being sanctimonious; no. I believe this is the way to go if we must fix our broken system. Reporting cynically that the president has lost his state or the governor has lost his ward or that this or that person has lost their unit is the political irresponsibility responsible for the win-at-all-cost mindset that in turn causes all the violence we hear on election day. We should be careful not to create the impression that in politics people must win everything, every time.
For me: while I accept that I am now a politician, I pledge to keep it clean, mature and courageous. I pledge that I am not in politics to win everything, every time. Rather, I am in politics to do greater good to a greater number of our people. So: help me, God.
\God bless Nigeria!