Thursday, April 23, 2015 8.19AM / By Fola Ojo / @MobilePunch
They were tense and taut; they were stressful and strenuous. They were these last Nigerian elections. Before, was a lot of campaigning; and after, a lot of complaining. The rowdysim and rambunctiousness of the process were just too much for some of us who live outside of Nigeria; and also for many more that live inside the country. Since this was my first body-and-soul involvement in a Nigerian national election in 36 years, I do not look forward to another round of air-and-ground-assaults and whiplash on human emotion that always come with elections in our own political mise-en-scene. But any election is like death; a necessary end in a true democracy.
After every election comes selections when winners handpick, hopefully, capable friends who bring some value and talent to the table of governance. Thugs, loudmouths, some godfathers, a few goddess-mamas, and those who dont carry means are carefully and subtly heave-hoed. If your candidate won something in the last electoral process and has not yet contacted you either by phone or text message to say hello, you are probably one of the valueless sphinxes who he thinks only love to hang around power. My friend, this is not the time to fulminate; your assignment is over, he has paid you for job well or not well-done, and its time to go get another job. But if he is still talking to you, then you are among the blessed. Theres got to be something about you that makes you relevant to his vision and mission for the next four years.
If your friend or loved one suddenly becomes the president, a governor, senator, a politician of hefty swagger, swank, and suave sashay and strut, you will need a lot of wisdom to deal with him. Otherwise, both of you will soon fall out in a squabble, and the relationship that has taken time to build may be mutated in bad blood, and flushed down the sinkhole of sa-yo-na-ra in a nanosecond!
This is a true story. A friends childhood buddy became a Special Adviser to a governor about eight years ago. The relationship between both men was very pleasant during the first year of his tenure as the S.A. Suddenly, in a big swing, the S.A. blocked off everybody including my friend. In the governors second term, the S.A. became a commissioner, but at this time, my friend had been shut out of the circle of friends. I asked the commissioner-friend what went amiss. He had a lot of stories to tell too. They are putting me under too much pressure, Pastor. They want me to do this and that for them, and they think I am making a lot of money and I must share it with them. I have a family and children to send to school; I have students loan to pay off and mortgage to service in Houston, and I have in-laws who are breathing down my wifes neck every day for help. They want to kill me but I wont let them. I felt bad for our commissioner-friend. But my friend wouldnt have that. What has he done for me? Is hundred-thousand naira here, two-hundred there going to solve the problems on the ground? he noisily complained to me. The age-long friendship crashed!
So, this is what I will advise those whose friends or loved ones just won an election. Your friend is under enormous pressure to meet the needs of many groups and individuals he did not know before he became big. The chiefs in his village and the Oba and Igwe in his town are coming for help and personal assistance. The pastor from his church is having crusades and revivals and they need his offering; so also is the Imam from his mosque who want to go to Mecca. His political party will come for remittances stocking up for the next elections, his godfather and goddess mama will not hesitate to show up for a handout. Dont forget thugs and voluntary security people; the marabouts, babalawos, and priests in Okija shrine; they are a constituency too in Nigerian politics. His neighbours and neighbourhood-watchmen will come seeking help. Politicians have in-laws who have friends bragging around town that they know a state governor, senator, commissioner. From these, he is in a pressure cooker!
When I had the privilege to visit my state governor last year and a few people saw the picture I took with him, I almost went bankrupt. Nigerians from far and near began making money demands of me; and I am neither a contractor nor a politician. Taking a picture with a governor or president in the US is commonplace; in Nigeria, it is considered a lottery win. Many believe you cannot enter any government house and come back empty-handed. Alas, that doesnt happen in my own state. A few of the good leaders among us who want to do good will eventually derail into pillaging and stealing of public funds because of enormous pressure on them to keep doling out. Leaders who failed woefully in public service have been led into the pit of failure by those around them who think working in government is an opportunity to get rich. Public service is what it is-SERVICE, my friends.
So, how do you manage your friend who just became a governor, senator, minister or a big politician? Dont subject him to an unnecessary pressure, and dont be a serial beggar for assistance. If he is your friend or family member, he knew your problem before he got his new position. If you have won his respect and admiration, you will not have to ask before he shows you favour.
But stay close to him; he may need you more than you need him. He needs your love, trust, and friendship that he has always got over the years. There are more enemies around him than friends. He wants to talk about other things other than politics and money. He wants to talk about his marriage and family that the big position may have shifted around. He may want to talk about his health challenge that he will not speak to anyone about. Dont stay away.
I dont know about any other country, most Nigerian politicians dont have true special advisers. Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan confirmed this when he said 80 per cent of his advisers are adversaries. Any one you cant trust may be an adversary. You are an unofficial special adviser to your friend who will believe your counsel first before he trusts the advice of an official politician Special Adviser that was forced on him by an interest group. Around him are many bootlickers; dont let him have an impression that you have become one of them by your insane demands and pressures. Be satisfied with the little he does for you.
If your friend nominates you as a minister, commissioner or head of a parastatal, remember that there are thousands who are as good as you are, if not better. Dont take it for granted, dont abuse the opportunity. Manage your friend and friendship with wisdom and with pleasure, not pressure on the one God is using for you.
When those in higher political offices pick up my phone calls or respond to my text and e-mail messages, I dont take the gesture for granted. You shouldnt too. They dont have to talk to you; they owe you not much. Nobody owes me anything no matter how much I think I have helped them win. He was not voted into power to service your individual and family needs; he was elected to serve the people.