The adage that “All politics is local” still holds true. But with several Nigeria’s political elite, it is a bit less local than it used to be.
Consider the multitude of political elite across the nation who have no connection with the grassroots, it is appalling that the adage, “All politics is local” is fast turning into a cliché. It appears political elite are gravitating towards the bourgeoisie, rather than the people even in election time.
The elite’s gravitation may not be unconnected to staggering facts about Nigeria’s politics that suggest that it is more rewarding to woo the leaders than the people.
Politics is about people. But it seems the normal rules of politics don’t apply again. The recent political parties’ primaries across the country where politicians that have grassroots supports lost to their unpopular counterparts stood the traditional belief that politics is about people on its head.
If it is about people, only political office seekers who are in touch with ordinary people’s feelings, views and are popular that would have won.
The emergence of Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(Rtd.) as All Progressive Congress’ presidential flag bearer despite being cash strapped and ageing gave credence to the claim that “All politics are local”.
In a political contest that involved moneyed aspirants like the former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar and two sitting governors with their war chests, Buhari’s mass followership particularly in the north was instrumental in handing him victory. The supports the virtuous septuagenarian got from the APC leadership during the party’s primary was majorly owing to his mass appeal.
The same cannot be said of several others who won their parties’ primaries at various level across the country. Not a few of them were very unpopular with ordinary parties’ members much more the general public.
Senator Simeon Ajibola who emerged as Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in Kwara State comes across like a terrible snob at times. A four-time senator, Ajibola who represents Kwara South Senatorial District in the hallowed chamber is a product of the Saraki political dynasty.
After he lost at the poll to the current Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, defunct All Peoples Party’s candidate Senator Suleiman Ajadi in 2003, he owed his victory at the law court in 2005 to the political savvy of the Sarakis who made Senator Ajadi’s younger brother a principal witness for the charge of electoral fraud filed against him(Sen. Ajadi).
A loyalist or Sarakite as it is called in local parlance, the political struggle for the soul of the state in 2011 that drove a wedge between former governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki and their father, Late Dr. Olusola Saraki was in no way an impediment to Senator Ajibola’s return to the senate.
The two parties led by members of the feuding family, Senator Bukola on one side, his deceased father and sister on the other side, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) respectively, offered him both parties’ tickets. However, he declined that of the latter.
Having rode on the back of the Saraki’s political clout, the 2015 governorship election in the state is a real test of Senator Ajibola’s popularity.
He appeared unprepared for 2015 when the Old Boys’ Association of his alma mater, Government Secondary School (GSS) Ilorin had its centennial celebration recently and sought an audience with him. His certain snobbery toward the common people got the better of him, he was not forthcoming.
His housemaid who eventually represented him at the meeting acted graciously with all the guests, yet one could pick up subtle nuances. His Alma-mater’s centennial anniversary was an occasion, a leader of the people would have made a lot of political capital out of.
It is not a surprise that his emergence as PDP’s governorship candidate has been greeted by protests across Kwara State, even in Ekiti Local Government Area of the state where he hails from.
Rotimi Sulyman is a political entrepreneur