Suddenly, everybody became a friend to General Muhammadu Buhari(rtd). The has been taking several shots at the Nigerian Presidency since 2003, very few boldly identified with him. The International Olympic Committee(IOC) recently invited him to its headquarters. Before now, no one has invited Buhari to such function. Everyone identifies with you when you win, but no one reckons with you when you lose!
To win any political election, whether it is just a school Prefect, Street representative, Local Government Councillor, Chairman, Governor or even the President, there are institutions that are decisive. Never leave them to chance!
These are the voters, the electors, the citizens, or in some cases the people who are supposed to be the main stake holders in the election.
Make no mistake about it, like in the United States, you may win the popular vote, but lose the electoral vote. This is because the US adopts the Electoral College system. This was exactly the case with former Vice president Al Gore when he ran for the presidency against George Bush in 2000.
In Nigeria, you must do everything within your powers to appease the voters. They must never be annoyed with you else you ambitions may be in jeopardy!
The Security Agencies
This includes the police, the secret service, and other law enforcement agencies. These institutions are in fact more powerful than the first, the electorate. You heard me right! They in fact influence the decision of the electorate in most cases. They are usually to provide security at the polling stations, but these institutions can be the source or sponsor of violence in the stations. They can write election results in connivance with the parties that are willing to pay their price or worship them. For those who know, the security agencies are perhaps more powerful than the electorate in the power hierarchy.
In some cases a politician can develop his or her own private “army” or thugs just for election purposes. This might be to counter the excesses of the “standing” army. “Professional” politicians do not leave this important institution to chance. Do not get me wrong. Some of these private “armies” are more armed than the so-called professional security outfits!
The media plays critical roles when it comes to elections. In fact journalists do not have better times than election periods. A politician has either of two options: have the media on your side or get your own side on the media. There is no third way!
Margaret Thatcher British Prime Minister (1979-90) was once quoted to have said that no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan for his good intentions if he were to be a poor man! Even the Holy Bible contains a famous quote: Money answereth all things. The god of Mammon is highly regarded if one is to be successful in politics, at least in Nigeria.
If you look at people like Bush, Clinton, Thatcher, Tinubu, Obasanjo, Butho and the likes I am pretty sure these people will not be your first choice when talking about poor men!
The Electoral Commission
This is the supposed unbiased umpire, and the supervisor of the electoral process. All eyes are usually on this all important agency during elections. In the build up to the 2015 elections in Nigeria, as usual the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come under the spotlight of public scrutiny. The rumour of the removal of its Chairman Professor Attaihiru Jega generated heated debate and severally heated up the polity. At some point, there appear to be a “Cold War” between the two main political parties in Nigeria: the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) about the control of INEC as this battle goes a long way in determining the outcome of the election!
These are the judges, justices, magistrates and the jury. After the voting and declaration of results have been done by the Electoral Commission, aggrieved parties are expected to seek redress in Court. This is where this institution comes in. You just have to be on the good books of the judges for them to either affirm your victory or the prayers of your opponents are granted. Guess what? This may spell doom! These judges can singlehandedly render all the efforts at the long campaigns, seeking for votes, and trying to control the Electoral Commission ineffectual. This institution is one of the most dreaded and highly regarded because they hold the yam and the knife at the same time. You are only to eat only if they give you a piece!
This Godfather alone may be all that some politicians require for winning elections. These godfathers, usually money bags, will font all election expenses for a candidate, including party primaries. The godfathers usually have a standing army of thugs, his own primary employees, whom he feeds on daily basis. The candidate knows he cannot stand the financial prowess of this godfather hence will keep all his actions within the rules set out by his “god”. Doing what is against the interest of his god may spell doom or disaster for this candidate no matter how popular he thinks he is.
Don’t get it wrong, they are everywhere. The US Democratic Party has the Kennedys and the Clintons. The Republican Party has the Bush fraternity. The British Conservative Party has the Thatchers of this world. These in their own right are Godfathers!
Winning elections takes more than just charisma or vote seeking. It contains a lot of “technical” elements that an ambitious politician can only ignore at his own peril!