I am sure that this letter will meet you well in the spirit of the season.
Our interpretation of ‘the season’ may differ greatly but I do not think it should matter much. Indeed, I feel safe to assume that you are aware of my position concerning the issues that are uppermost in your mind at this time.
In the main, I wish to remind you of my counsel to you at our last meeting that you should forgo your intent to contest in this coming national and state elections. I find it necessary to write you this short letter because the throng of sycophants waiting to tell you how great you are and leeches sharpening their proboscis to suck you dry in this their festival of shame will not ever let people like me get near you.
Firstly, you seem oblivious of the hopelessness of your political endeavour. As a young man, you have acted deliberately in a manner that suggests that you either do not know, understand or appreciate the power of your demography. You fall smugly in the population social bracket globally defined as ‘young’ which, if the official census figures bandied around is anything to go by, forms about sixty-seven percent of the whole.
Actual head count numbers have proven to be unreliable from the very inception of censuses in this country, however, if your demographic population is sixty-seven percent of the whole and we subtract the population of those who are not of voting age, and admittedly, that will be a hefty chunk, it will still leave a good number.
Realistically, we should also acknowledge that many more in that bracket, the disillusioned, the apathetic and those who do not have voters’ cards will not count in anyone’s favor. But even that should leave you with an impressive fraction of the sixty-seven percent.
It would seem a hasty and pessimistic judgment therefore that in consideration of above realities, you stand no chance with the electorate in the coming elections but indeed, you realistically stand no chance.
However, on the other side of the divide, among the old and the creaky, there are those who feel themselves too old to vote, those who are even more spiritless than some in your generation and those who hold such strong views about the frustrating state of the nation and refuse to vote in protest. They, like many in your demography, hold the notion that their abstinence will have an effect on the outcome of those elections. As you would have discovered since your sojourn into the murky waters of Nigerian partisan politics, the arithmetic of vote counting is rather much simpler – the winner is usually decided on the total number of votes cast and not who registered to vote.
The irresponsible behaviour of that generation above you, if you consider with clarity, indeed, hands you an advantage that ordinarily would have made all the difference and given true substance to the paper victory you thought you won in the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ document.
The main point of my long-winded sermon is to let you see and accept the sad fact that you cannot win any election in this country. Not now, not with your approach.
Please do not be too hasty to rage and rail at me. I will explain. I have already provided some indicators that may decide the elections above; that is, if they are free, fair and devoid of being encumbered in any manner.
You sir, like many others of your demography, have failed to harness that power. You, Ezekwesili – not that she is so young anymore – Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye, Omoyele Sowore, and the many others who muddy the waters and confuse on our reading of the political space, have in the way popular with people of your age, sat down with others in your generation, full of high book intellect and absolutely worthless wisdom, plotted figures that sound grand but adopt little knowledge of the realities on the streets, devised campaigns that look impressive but say nothing to take advantage of your numbers and speak over the heads of the people you should be targeting.
You refuse to accept that the sixty-seven percent of the population where you belong is a largely uneducated swathe and struggle to understand your grand intellectual posturing. You are heavily reliant on social media where the Telcos have assured you the numbers are, not factoring that the social media crowd is fast food, soft bread who do not want to be bogged down with trying to decipher your larger than life English. You are generating polls and constantly computing permutations while the foot soldiers of your opponents tramp the streets, cajoling, intimidating and blackmailing to get the needed mass. They do not do ThisDay or The Guardian newspapers, hard copy or online. They do not read and have no business with Channels Television. HipTv, Trace, Linda Ikeji are their fare and that serves them nicely.
A friend shared an experience. There was an informal research around Bariga, a heavily populated neighborhood of Lagos, to aid their theatrical presentation. So, they went to ask if the people knew who Wole Soyinka was. Many of them said they have never heard of him; some said the street was not in that area while others said the man had moved and did not live in the area anymore.
That is the population you are trying to reach with Soyinkasque language.
The old politicians are not any match for you in terms of modern ideas and they know it. So, like all wily old dogs who understand the terrain from long years of tramping it, they go straight to the point-food, road, water, NEPA, money for market. Finish. In the simplest of languages. The people get it and judge them by it.
Sir, it is not too complex, especially for an expert of your worth. Please, when everyone has gone home and left you to mull the day, ask yourself, how many people among those who will vote, really believe you, trust you, enough to hand such a massive responsibility to you, how many feel connected to you enough take the trouble of leaving the comfort of their homes to cast that important vote for you to rule them. How many have you given money or bought Agege bread and Aganyin beans with coke for?
Instead of growing your own identity and ideology and deepening it in the consciousness of the people, you have been lured into calling Buhari Jubrin and cackling in laughter at Mr. President’s incoherence. You forget that your objectives are different from that of PDP. You have chosen to carry your own load as handbag while bending over under the weight of the ‘Ghana-must-go’ of others.
I sympathize with Bankole Wellington. He is even looking down in almost all his campaign posters, ‘doing guy’! How do we estimate his honesty without seeing his eyes? Even my good friend and brother, Ayo Lijadu, fantastic gentleman, wanted to be PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA! Whasdat?! It is close now and I am not clairvoyant but anyone outside of your group of lying advisers can see that you will not win. Your strategy group has missed it.
Please be aware that in Nigerian politics, the loser gets nothing. Ask Jimi Agbaje. Ask Babatunde Olaleke Gbadamosi in Lagos. Losers in Nigerian partisan politics usually get nothing, especially if you are also not in a strong political party. None of you is in any party that has potential to upset the post-independence apple cart. Not yet. And you are not working with any discernible purpose to create one.
Sir, with due respect but no apologies, I hold the view that you are not any different from the rest of your generation, entitled, mentally lazy and tended to tantrums otherwise, you would see that though your intentions, as enumerated in your many releases and manifesto, are honorable and hopeful. They are Utopian, impractical and arrogant, showing off, with no practical means of actualizing those lofty ideas. You have not properly cultivated and obtained the buy-in of your generation and you have not shown any clear and realistic intent to challenge for power. You are just showboating and we will remember you, for some time, for your skills and then we will follow one of the old folks and forget you. Think of Gani Fawehinmi. That is us.
You should have a more realistic and innovative approach to this fight to take on and force out these ageless retired generals and tireless ex-Customs officers who, we all agree, have been an annoyance akin to the boil that has chosen to ensconce itself in the most delicate place in the anatomy.
My honest counsel as one who does not hope to gain your patronage, is that you and your supporters, retreat, reassess your strategies and refocus your vision, aim for those mid-term elections for any seats that are going vacant across the country, they are smaller electorates to manage, take them wherever you can, generate critical mass from the grassroots and prepare yourself for the next big one. Please, what is wrong with putting your people in as Councilors, Local Government Chairmen? They will be your foot soldiers tomorrow.
In overreaching yourself by going straight for the high electoral offices – presidential, governorship, House of Reps, Senate and nothing less – is actually a major part of the distrust you may have encountered in a few places because the people do not know you and have a difficulty understanding why it had to be those offices and nothing less. Do not be shocked to find that in their thinking, you too, ‘want to go and chop your own!’ Undeveloped potential to harness empathy.
The old dogs will give you free lessons in winning with the people. It is done from the bottom up; when you want the votes, you speak their language and not assume that they all swoon for Davido and Star Boy. Their realities are different. Not all of them live in Nasarawa GRA, Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Old GRA, Port Harcourt and such places. Alimosho is the largest and most densely populated local government area in Nigeria and maybe you should experiment with a combo of Olamide, Phyno and Paso. Ask yourself why King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall is the preferred APC campaign musician in the South West.
Make I tell you, guy to guy, sir. Leave dat book tin, o. Who your book ep? People wan chop, bros! That is our country. Buhari, Atiku, Obasanjo, Babangida, Danjuma, Gusau, Dasuki, Jonathan, Rotimi, Wike, Akpabio, Saraki and their legions know that basic truth and understand how to manipulate that simple need of the people. The old are not our problem, the young that have not properly stood up to be counted are.
Trump is deep into his 70s, Mahatir Bin Mahamad of Malaysia will be 94 this year, Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is 92 and many others. Those men and women are still winning elections. They know their terrain and in spite of the ravages of age, retain enough common sense to manipulate it. Our problem is, therefore, not so much the age of our president but whether he can deliver the aspirations of the largest swathe of our population, your demographic.
They will rule us for a long time to come. When, if they all die off, as you probably secretly pray, their children and grandchildren are waiting in the wings to take over. Don’t look too far, Femi Fani-Kayode is the son of late Remi ‘Fani Power’ Fani-Kayode. Oba Akiolu, Oba Oniru, and several other Obas and Ezes and Emirs’ sons and daughters are already in government. Iyabo Obasanjo has served in many capacities. You get?
Oh and by the way sir, it is not the era of socialism and communism anymore. The ideological fight is more about the realities of this Third World country. I think you should consider joining one of the major parties and hijacking it for your own agenda. Consider what impact someone like you may have in either of the two major parties, with a good take-over plan. Atiku became vice president, remained politically relevant and again won the ticket to contest in this election, with the political machinery built by the late General Musa Yar’adua. Build yours and use it to negotiate your dream for Nigeria. It is the party we have a challenge with, it is the people in the party. Take over a party and use it to your advantage. Donald J. Trump did it. One whole decade before he contested, he said if he was ever going to contest, he would choose the Republicans because they were dumb. He has enough money to have contested as an independent but he chose to use the already massive political reach of the established party and cultivated its affiliate organizations like the NRA.
You do not have to take my counsel, sir, but thankfully, that guaranteed choice has not stopped me from freely offering it.
It will, however, be rewarding if you do. I am just saying…
Mr. Bimbo Manuel write from Lagos.
NB: Opinion expressed here is solely that of the author.