First, Ambode. Now, Obaseki: The price of disloyalty

Photo credit: Daily Trust

By Daniel Ezeigwe

When the classical orators invented the axiom “never bite the finger that feeds you”, the purpose was straight and lucid enough that would-be offenders would have to re-consult their intentions for a crime related to trust. Loyalty is everything. Loyalty is the grand determinant of trust and distrust. Loyalty is costly; arguably the costliest commodity in human relations. Not just with humans.

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The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7 not only teaches love but mirrors a strong bond of loyalty that had existed between the shepherd and his lost sheep that he made huge sacrifice just to find it. God, the supreme Creator, frowns at disloyalty and goes hard on souls that make that sinful slant. The First Commandment explains God’s absolute demand for loyalty from His creation.

There is a grievous price for anyone who goes against the precepts of loyalty. In marriage, for instance, a sacred union that has been ordained by God’s statutes and matrimonial vows, the price for disloyalty is divorce. In politics, however, the punishment varies. Politics is a game that demands absolute loyalty. It is like a relay, where the second runner counts on the first to hand over the baton so that the circus does not get interrupted.

The disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki by the All Progressives Congress’, APC, Screening Committee from participating in the party’s primaries for the Edo gubernatorial election in September came as everything but shocking. The mess had been brewing and the cursor was quietly pointing to that ultimate decider. The verdict is simple: Governor Obaseki stepped on toes, went against the usual Nigerian political business between a father and his son, and got drowned eventually. Where the governor ends up now does not matter much, the underlying truth is that he bit the finger that fed him and that is bad business choice in politics. Yes, Nigerian politics is a terrible choice when it comes to selective options.

The country cannot boast a desirable choice when it comes to political mentorship. It is quite permissible to say in fact that the Nigerian political jigsaw is tactically a mess in its own league. But that does not withdraw any notion of truth from what is obtained even in the ideals of international politics, and that is loyalty. Governor Obaseki, however creditable he must have perfomed — I’m not too sure about that– blew it. Like Akinwumi Ambode, the one-term governor of Lagos state, Obaseki allowed the corruptive juice of power to intoxicate him to a point that he deliberately lost sense of what godfatherism — the same system that helped his elevation — really means. Ambode’s “crimes” cost him a second tenure in Lagos top seat, Obaseki, if luck looks the other way — as it is currently — is staring at that same fate.

Obaseki must have tried to shake off some people but he erred in a shabby bid to achieve that particular goal. Many people would want to extend sympathy to Mr Obaseki, especially at a time like this when his odds are shrinking badly. That is normal. But politics abhors certain kind of sentiments. The party’s screening committee that disqualified the governor from taking part in the primaries knew the governor’s fate right from the start. Obaseki himself must have known that a day would come when things would turn sore. However, he braced for the showdown remains unclear. Scholars of African politics, if there is still any left, know that fighting the same formula that brought you up to power is a contradictive battle that has a dual outcome.

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In the non-fiction bestseller “48 Laws of Power”, the author, Robert Greene, was meticulous with his chronology of the rules of the game. The first law is concise and simple: ” Never Outshine Your Master”! A four-word sentence that speaks the artries and veins of truth. It goes further thus “Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might achieve the opposite — inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power”. Governor Obaseki, like ex-governor Ambode, did not only go against this law, but, most unforgivably, tried to annihilate the same established political formation that they accepted before they became governors.

Governor Obaseki, a successful businessman should have known better — that, just like in trade deals, loyalty remains the cardinal enabler of mutual work system. If your longtime trade partner smells a scintilla of disloyalty, he gives you up as a traitor and severe ties immediately. It is so in life, more so in politics. The organized politics is very sensitive. The radar is always on and out to intercept farmers of discordance. Everyone wants their interest secured and protected. It is usually difficult to satisfy all of those demands. However, not all of them could be disposed of without some boomerangs. Mr Obaseki must have had the fantasy of being his own man with his own unquestioned authority. He probably got tired being told what to do and how to do them.

Then came in the thoughts of rebellion; to bite off those “worrisome” fingers for good. But there is a didactic ancient Igbo proverb that underlines Obaseki’s action. It goes thus: “If a child who has not come the right age decides to have a cloth tied around his waist, when the wind comes it carries both the child and his cloth”. Like Ambode, Obaseki too got this one all wrong.

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