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Season of political carpetbaggers

Season of political carpetbaggers

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Paul Ojenagbo

“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand for everyone can see and few can feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are”

–Niccolo Machiavelli

It is the season of carpetbaggers of the political hue. Like the egrets that feast off and follow the cows seasonally from the Northern part of  the country to the Southern strip  along with the change in seasons ( not the one to answer if the herdsmen intrusion has also led to this change!), they never lose their identity. They are in politics purely to get returns on their selfish investments, build stupendous financial empires that will outlive them and devolve to the fourth generations of their offspring. Their aspiration is to make the billions upon billions and become the source of envy in their communities as they are driven in long convoys through pothole riddled streets or in their obscene palatial mansions that take the breath away while poor neighbours line up beggarly with their plates, daily in front of their houses to seek succour. They have no apology to offer to anyone because they see politics as purely business; they let their monies speak for them by taking care of every interest that would promote their cause and expect to reap ceaseless windfall no matter whose ox is gored. Service to the fatherland and commitment to the people is only to the extent that their aspirations are met.

They are in every political association or party and at the drop of the hat, they are ready to change camp as many times as they would be accommodated in their new (old) party! They are in party A in the morning, party B in the afternoon and C in the afternoon. It is always very easy for them to carry on this way because they have never and will never profess to any ideological bent except that which their godfather and mentor, Niccolo Machiavelli taught them “the end justifies the means!” They are very good students of this Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist and writer of the Renaissance, who famously wrote the book, ‘The Prince’ that formed a handbook for corrupt politicians. Machiavelli who lived between 1469 and 1527 would be very much fulfilled turning delightfully in his grave at their superb performance and strict adherence to his teachings.

 Politics of the Second Republic would be horrible old school to this lot because that was when Nigeria had some semblance of political association based on ideology. It was a period when a politician was ideologically a reactionary/retrogressive or progressive. Decades after, we remember that the progressives were those who came under the umbrella of late sage Obafemi Awolowo and his allies who shared in his political philosophy and so had a lot in common while the National Party of Nigeria were the reactionaries. It amounted to some political earthquake of some sort at that time to hear of defection; it was very rare in those days and one case in point was the rift between Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola in the First Republc. The People’s Redemption Party under the leadership of Aminu Kano was the party for the masses (talakawa).

 Defecting happens almost every day now and years from now, it would very difficult for historians to place these consistently defecting politicians and that is if they deserve mention at all.

 For the political carpet baggers, to hold the membership cards of several parties at the same time is a norm which makes their exits easy even though they still have to put up with the torture of formal and needless announcements. To sustain their relevance, they ensure that they hold a public office through election for which they are ready to put everything on the line. They must defect to a party where their election fortunes are seemingly brighter not necessarily because of their own appeal or electoral values but rather the party’s.

They owe no allegiance to the party they purportedly belong to more so if it is at conflict with their own agenda. They are the dissident and rebellious members of any party; they select the party’s rules to obey and that is if and when they favour them.  They readily jettison the collective interests of the party at any given chance for their own selfish interests. By their fruits you shall know them, through the flawed character traits they have helplessly projected in the public eye over time. Although they are powerful individuals defined by their deep financial chest, they are typified by exaggerated, bloated notion of their self-worth and electoral value.

 They come at every level: national, state and local. In fairness to them, they are very intelligent, full of wits and street smart individuals who deploy their strong points maximally to their benefits.

 They are the carpetbaggers in Nigeria politics. They are ruthless negotiators who operate at arm’s length. They are the Shylocks without conscience whose paths lesser mortals must steer clear of by miles. They remain loyal to the collective cause as long as it pays them handsomely and are not afraid to draw the long knife when they feel betrayed.

The typical carpetbaggers appear like a leap year often before major election and as 2019 beckons, they must assess their chances, trade off old alliances and re-align to re-align again in the not too distant future. They are ready to swallow their vomits several times as they are men without scruples or principles. Some have been in and out of the same party three or more times. All the parties have the carpetbaggers in their fold but they are helpless about them because they could use the pots of ill-gotten funds they bring with them, the pots of trouble they also come with notwithstanding. Whichever party they pitch tent with or belong to, it is merely a union of convenience and the fear of this class of politicians is the beginning of wisdom.

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