Political loyalty is a good thing, but can produce fatal results if mismanaged. The current crisis in PDP Cross River State is a direct result of the fatality of Political loyalty. The high handedness expressed by the political leadership in the state has produced followers who are too scared to take independent decisions even on matters that affect their own political survival.
The very fact that the current political administration does not seem to tolerate any form of opposition within its fold, ends up producing followers whose loyalty is not based on moral conviction but rather on eye service and sycophancy.
The greatest leaders of all times are leaders who tolerated opposing views. Among Jesus Christ twelve disciples, was a “Thomas” who doubts, and because of his doubting ability, Jesus had to prove himself over and over again.
There was a Judas who betrays, and as such, Jesus was careful with him. His very presence in the team, kept Jesus on his feet. So the very presence or ability to accommodate opposing views in your team is a positive attribute in political development.
As an outsider, I think Governor Liyel Imoke created his many troubles today. When he appointed Ada Bekwara to lead the caucus in selecting a candidate from the Northern zone to serve as consensus candidate for the elections, he should have allowed the team 100% independence to perform their duty in the face of the public.
The public humiliation he meted to the Caucus leaders by cancelling a meeting, where Ada Bekwara called and requested that aspirants pay some money was uncalled for. Cancelling that meeting and requesting that no monies be paid, stripped the Ada Bekwara committee of all its respect and authority the public had on them, and presented them as a rubber stamp to the Governor.
The Caucus should have been given some semblance of independence from the beginning. What Governor Imoke should have done rather, was to allow the meetings go on, but call on the committee thereafter to either scold them or ask them to return the monies or use it prudently in the watchful eyes of the public.
This public embarrassment in my judgment was largely responsible why some other aspirants proceeded to buy their nomination forms against the wishes of the party when the final five emerged.
In addition, this humiliation made the public and other political watchers to feel that Senator Imoke had a preferred candidate and yet, proceeded to subject the aspirants to unwarranted presentations to Caucuses who made a joke of the process and whose final judgment was considered laughable by some aspirants.
If he had settled for a caucus selection process, he should have allowed the process to be democratic, and should have allowed the aspirants themselves to contribute towards the formation and selection of caucus members and hold on to a binding non legal commitment to abide by the ruling of the caucus. However, this was not the case.
The second major political mistake Governor Imoke did was publicly fighting or making public statements about the aspirations of Mr. Jedy Agba. All the talk of knowing who will not succeed him was uncalled for. The mass popularity enjoyed by Mr. Jedy Agba today is a consequence of Mr. Imoke’s early actions. Terminating the appointments of some of his key staff for taking sides too early with Mr. Jedy Agba was also uncalled for.
Governor Imokes actions only added momentum to a political skate-balling and gave Jedy’s team the popularity with the common man in the streets. Technically, he made an issue were there was no issue. Today Jedy is the darling of the street in Cross River state, not because he is the best among all the aspirants, but because he has been seen to fight a political hegemony and some political untouchables, and the common man being the spectator makes him a hero for even daring. In a society where the poor people feel that they are poor because some people are rich, if you are seen fighting or daring to fight the rich you become their hero.
What most public officials fail to understand is that because of the mass poverty in our society, majority of the people who sing your praise are doing so just because of what they expect from you. When people call you great leader, humble leader, role model, they say all that just for what they will get from you.
At the tail end of your tenure or when you are out of office, this same people will talk about your many sins. How do you explain the very Donald Duke who followed Imoke all around during his campaign for his second tenure will turn around and call him incompetent at the end of his tenure? Did he not notice this incompetency if it ever existed during Imoke’s first tenure?
Now Donald knows Imoke has six months to go, and running a regime that can barely pay her civil servants monthly salary, has nothing to offer him, and has nothing to deserve loyalty and hence refers to Imoke’s administration as “two monkeys”. That’s the sycophancy I am talking about; it comes from the mighty and even from the low.
A sitting Governor in the Nigerian context has all the powers in the world to determine who succeeds him if he plays the game right. Imoke’s early pronouncements, taking sides, and attempting to derail the aspirations of Jedy Agba made Jedy’s team prepared for him at Waterloo. With the current calculations, Liyel Imoke may find it very difficult to determine his successor because it is very clear that his opponents are a step ahead of him in this games politicians play.
The third major mistake was the political miscalculations before the delegate’s elections. With all due respect, I would say some of Governor Imoke’s lieutenants and party Chiefs in the State were not smart enough in the game. In the event I finally render an endorsement to Mr. Jedy Agba, I would do so for his ability to think ahead of the Party chiefs in the State.
A good leader thinks ahead. How on earth were the party chiefs in the state caught off guard by election monitors sent from Abuja? Why couldn’t they think ahead that planning should have begun in Abuja and ends in Abuja? Why couldn’t they think ahead that some aspirants will purchase nominations forms directly from Abuja for their delegate representatives? Why couldn’t they think ahead and have their preferred delegates ready before Abuja monitors arrive? Why couldn’t they think ahead that their opponents may play a money game?
The inability of the Ntufam John Okon Party machinery to act smart before the delegates’ elections calls for an outright dissolution of that party machinery in the state if PDP must survive. All things being equal, if Cross River State has an effective opposition, the current PDP leadership may not have the capacity or leverage to deliver the state in the next general elections.
If Governor Imoke as a sitting Governor had kept quiet and allowed a level playing field, his enemies would not have prepared for him. They would have been caught off guard, this would have made him the man with the joker card, he would determine the delegates voting pattern at the last minute and he would have edged out any body he wanted out with ease. This is what Machiavelli called “Political Statecraft” in political science.
He writes “And one should bear in mind that there is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dubious of success, nor more dangerous to administer than to introduce a new order to things; for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old order as his enemies; and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new. This Luke warmness partly stems from fear of their adversaries, who have the law on their side, and partly from the skepticism of men, who do not truly believe in new things unless they have personal experience in them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli.
Senator Liyel Imoke is a good man. His only weakness I think is that he is surrounded by eye service loyalists rather than moral loyalists who believe in him. I do not consider him a dictator, rather, the people around him have displayed a great deal of inefficiency and lackluster performance to an extent that he has to dictate for them.
If the clock were to be turned back two years from now, I would have suggested to Governor Imoke to read “The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli”, dine with your enemies, but with a long spoon, with this I think we would have a better ending.
I am a realist. I am used to calling a spade a spade without fear or favor. Governor Liyel Imoke is not a bad man. He actually means well for the State. I may disagree with some of his policies, however, disagreeing with someone does not mean he is wrong. I picked interest on him and my whole perception of him changed the very first day I met him in his Aso Rock home in Abuja sometime in 2010.
A meeting originally scheduled for ten minutes, we ended up talking for over two hours with tens of visitors waiting outside. In another visit in his Calabar home, I walked in to see him at about 2 am, he was still attending to people, I looked at him, I saw a man really tired, I remember saying to him, HE, go and sleep, I will come back tomorrow, but he insisted we hold the meeting.
A man with such human commitment to address the issues affecting the state, staying up late at night when we all are with our families deserves our respect, adoration and moral loyalty, not eye service loyalty
At present it is obvious we are in a political mess. As a political scientist and strategist, I will advise, let’s follow the biblical model to conflict resolution: Jesus said, Matthew 5:25, “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer.
In a similar light, Governor Imoke, should settle matters quickly with his political adversaries (Ndoma Egba, Jedy Agba and Prince Otu) before the PDP primaries, lest they hand him over to the voting public who will decide their Governorship preference.
Allow a level playing field, No Victor no Vanquish. Be the father to the political family. There’s no point flexing muscles in this power games, you can make a point without proving a point.
You can produce a loyal Governor, even if he is not your preferred choice. Let’s give democracy a chance. God bless you all.
PRINCEWILL OJONG ODIDI A SOCIAL COMMENTATOR WRITES FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. PRINCEWILLODIDI@YAHOO.COM
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