POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT : Much Ado About Nothing

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Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Its thursday and its all gona be about politics today. Much has been going on in the political stage as the 2015 general election approaches. Lastweek, the air was agog with news of GMB travelling to london and fayose spitting fire and brimstones at APC leaders. It was totally not unexpected to hear our madam firstlady’s voice in all of what seems like a ‘pleasant pandemonium’ – that’s if there is any word like that. So today people, in his usual style, straight-direct and unapologetic, Timi boyinde chronicles the hullabaloo entangled with political endorsements that’s been the latest fashion in Nigeria politics by one too many political parties – or should I say political camps. Forgive my sarcasm.

Here you have it in his own words.

2015 Political Endorsements: Much Ado about Nothing
…… Democracy is a cake of Prosperity
Universally eaten with the teeth of give and take
But in the toothless mouth of my country’s heroes
Democracy becomes a chronic bone that never cracks….
– Akeem Lasisi and the songbirds (Ori Agbe, 2014)

Political endorsement is a major part of the democratic process. It is a way of showing support to a candidate or party by a group, individuals and associations after the manifestoes, policies and programs must have been read and digested. Community groups, Media Houses, Local Unions, student
associations, Civil Society Organisation, Labour Unions and
Political Parties may organize debate among candidates and endorse the best. Endorsement is another way of gaining recognition among undecided and neutral voters. In sane Climes, Candidates write to stakeholders to gain their endorsements and thereby gain more recognition and
credibility. Some endorsements can be valuable as the organization/groups will mobilize for the candidates in the election. Celebrities, Artists and popular figures attend rallies with the candidates they support. Endorsements from local
and international newspapers are also influential to voters. If an Editorial Board invites candidates for an
interview and a candidate brilliantly highlighted his programs,
he may be endorsed. Even if a candidate does not win a newspaper’s endorsement in one election cycle, he or she may get that endorsement the next time around.

However, it is advisable for a newspaper to be non-partisan
when it comes to elections and endorsements. A presidential candidate of a Party may be endorsed and the same newspaper may endorse the governorship candidate of
another party in the same election cycle. In 2008, The United
State of America witnessed ‘The O’ Effect’ when a popular talk show host, Oprah Winfrey endorsed Democrats Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama. Endorsing Senator Barack Obama in 2008, Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of former President of United State of America, J.F Kennedy wrote an Op-Ed piece published by ‘The New York Times’ on January 27, 2008 titled ‘A President Like My Father’. “I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the
American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us
believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved. I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of
Americans”.

In Nigeria, this is a season of political endorsements. One of the things we do in this side of the world is Endorsement. In our ‘God’s Own Country’, a political office holder can be endorsed for a second term after barely spending a year in office in his first term. It gets ridiculous sometimes when such endorsements are made by those who are seen as respected citizens who should not meddle into partisan politics. I have read from different sources many times when groups that had earlier endorsed a candidate will retract the endorsement and choose another bloke who is doling out the cash. It gets messy when an individual endorses more than a candidate
contesting for the same election. The history of political endorsements in Nigeria dates back as far as 1923 when the first political Party in Nigeria was formed i.e. The Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) by Herbert Macaulay. The formation of the party was a result of the fusion of many
interest groups into a single group. In the politics of the leadership of the then Nigerian Youth Movement (1933 –1951), endorsement played a critical role. Dr. Insa Nolte, a senior lecturer (African Studies) in the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom wrote extensively in her book, Obafemi Awolowo and the making of Remo: The Local Politics of a Nigerian Nationalist about the politics of endorsements among major actors in the Nigerian Youth Movement between 1933 and 1951. She explained what led to the crisis and
the formation of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) in1944.

In the first National election in 1959, political endorsements played a pivotal role. The Sarduana of Sokoto, Alh. Ahmadu Bello publicly declared support for the candidate of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), Alh. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and mobilized all the Northerners to vote for him.
In the West, the Egbe Omo O’dua endorsed Chief Obafemi
Awolowo, the candidate of the Action Group, AG as the consensus candidate of the Yorubas. The Iyaloja General, Alhaja Abibat Mogaji mobilized all market women to support and Vote for Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the East, the
Candidate of the NCNC, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe enjoyed the
endorsements of groups, associations and individuals from that region. What happened in 1959 was endorsement by ethnic groups. Alh. Tafawa Balewa emerged the prime
minister and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe as a result of his party’s
alliance with the NPC became the President. Since the advent of democracy in 1999, Nigerians have witnessed so many political endorsements. In 1999, a Yoruba Social-Political Organisation, Afenifere publicly endorsed the Candidate of
the All Peoples Party (APP) as its presidential candidate and
endorsed Alliance for Democracy (AD) as the official political party of the Yoruba People. In 2003, Afenifere made a political miscalculation by miscalculation by endorsing President Olusegun Obasanjo. That single decision led to the loss of
identity by the regional Political Party, The Alliance for
Democracy (AD) and the split of the group. The infamous Obasanjo’s endorsement by Afenifere in 2003 ended the era of serious endorsement. Though one should not shy away from the fact that previous endorsements have been ethnic and
religious motivated. These days, a candidate can buy as many
as possible. Endorsements are based on sentiments and the struggle for relevance and the amount spent by the candidate endorsed. There are so many frauds in the political space and sometimes one wonders if these are being done in other
countries. Our system allows a candidate to pay for his
endorsement, organize a jamboree called endorsement rally and have it transmitted on Television for people to watch. Politicians have taken over the Civil Society Organisations. Today, you have a politician being endorsed by many human right groups that should have ethos on how things should be done.

There is no national Politician who does not have one group or
the other that enjoy financial benefits from him. He settles the bills and they have a duty to defend him and endorse him. Since the race to Nigeria 2015 started, we have seen and heard of numerous endorsements; endorsements with
reasons, endorsements without genuine reasons and endorsements with no reason. Leading in this endorsement gambit is unofficial endorsement of Papa Ayo Oritsejafor led Christian Association of Nigeri (CAN) for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck
Jonathan. One wonders when it has become the duty of CAN to endorse a candidate. Again, General Muhammadu Buhari has been endorsed by a Niger-Delta Militant Group, The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and in a very unlikely calculation. Some endorsements have come with funny postulations. For example last week, the O’odua Peoples Congress, OPC through one of its factional leaders, Otunba Gani Adams, promised to ‘give’ President Goodluck Jonathan 6 million votes in South West. That is more than exaggeration. A northern political group, Northern Elders Council also endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan and promised to give him more than 8 million votes in the North. Fraud!. Endorsements are flying. It is time to endorse. The latest in the series of ‘ridiculous’ endorsements is the one by Afenifere, endorsing President Goodluck Jonathan. This, like many others did not come as a surprise but I was disappointed by that ‘Kangaroo’, Wuru-Wuru and Jeun-Jeun
endorsement. One would have expected Afenifere to learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid endorsing any candidate as we approach the March 28 Presidential
election.

The crisis that ravaged Afenifere in 2003 remains fresh in memory and the same scenario is being relayed 12 years after. The major crack in Afenifere led to the formation of splinter group, Afenifere Renewal Group in 2008 by a breakaway faction who do not believe in the believe in the leadership of the Old Afenifere. The neutrality of Afenifere would be ideal at this stage because none of the two leading candidates are from the South West geo-political zone and also because the Yorubas have been completely marginalized by the Goodluck Jonathan led Government. If “Ohaneze Ndigbo”, an Igbo Socio-Cultural Group and “Arewa Consultative Forum”, a Political
and cultural organization of leaders in Northern Nigeria have
not openly declared their supports for any of the candidates, then, why are the Chieftains of Afenifere in a hurry to endorse a candidate? IT is important for Ethic, Religious and Tribal groups to remain neutral at this stage and allow our democracy to develop without heating up the polity with
endorsements. It is worthy of note that most of the associations do not carry along the people they represent. I am sure the leadership of CAN did not call a referendum of all Christians in Nigeria and seek for their opinions of all. In the case of Afenifere, their decision is based on the fact that the Goodluck Jonathan Government will approve the resolutions of the just concluded National Conference. That reason is too
soft. Does that stop them from remaining neutral of how will their support translates to approving National Conference Resolution? Do endorsements really translate to success at the polls? Endorsements are meant to win some neutral and
undecided Voters. Nadine Gardiner, a South African Writer,
Political activist and a recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature once said “a truly living human being cannot remain neutral”. By that judgment, one could conclude that endorsement can help to win some voters who are still
confused and not neutral. Some voters decide after reading and studying the policies of a candidate.

In a tight race, financial and organization helps that come can make a difference. Some voters decide after seeing the level
of mobilization being done for a candidate by respected
individuals and groups. If a candidate succinctly and clearly states his positions on major schemes like Education, Wealth creation, Housing, Healthcare, Social security and others, stakeholders in each of these sectors can endorse him
and that will make some voters consider him. Endorsements
arguably win elections. An election can be won without a single endorsement and can be lost with thousands of endorsements. A candidate can be endorsed by all visible associations, influential individuals, community leaders, monarchs and still lose the election. This is because most of the “parties” are not being represented and because of too many sentiments put into them. The objectives of Endorsements have been lost. Apart from the fact that most of
the groups and associations who have endorsed are partially
made of members of the Political Parties, most of them and non-existent. The ones with large followership have range of followers who may not share the sentiments of the leaders. In a group established for endorsement purpose, it is dissolved once the monies have been shared. Most of the individuals will be in the comforts of their sitting rooms watching Television on Election Day.

An endorsement in Nigeria is much ado about nothing. No
serious Candidate will rely on endorsements. They are only being used to make political statements and score cheap political points. In conclusion, endorsement is another major democratic process we have lost in Nigeria. With endorsements flying like kites and most times from faceless and overpriced groups, it is safe to conclude that those endorsements do not really translate to electoral victories. A candidate will be only be fooling himself that he’ll emerge victorious based on how has been endorsed. Like issue
based campaign, Manifestoes and Debates, the hope of having
serious endorsements have been dealt a big blow in the current political race. It is only my prayer that in 2019, there will be an ideal political race which will be violence free, issue based and a free, fair and credible election which all
Nigerians will acknowledge and applaud. LET ME ENDORSE
YOU AND CHOP YOUR MONEY: Majority of Nigerians believe endorsements are more about highest bidders. Money Money! Money! Chop my money is a song by Nigerian R&B duo
P-Square, realeased as the second single from their fifth album, ‘The Invasion’ in 2011. Chop my money loosely means “spend my money”. God Bless the duo for this song.

She must chop my money, chop my money
Chop my money, ‘cause I don’t care
Chop my money,’ Chop my money
Chop my money, ‘cause I don’t care
I don’t care (don’t care)
I don’t care (don’t care)
I no fear ‘cause I get am plenty
I don’t care (don’t care)
I don’t care (don’t care)
I no fear, ‘cause e no dey empty

….. TAKE FIVE…….

The ‘Wahala’ in Ebonyi State:

Since theconclusion of PDP primaries in Ebonyi state, things have never remained the same. The outgoing incumbent Governor, Pa Martin Elechi could not impose his stooge on the Party. His stooge lost to another candidate perceived to be a stooge of the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who is incidentally Elechi’s deputy. The governor decided to move his loyalists to Labour party. With the new development, his new party has lost the state house of Assembly to PDP. Some members of House of Assembly have decided to impeach the governor who has less than 3 months left to complete his two-terms. Seats of legislators who are Elechi’s loyalist have been declared vacant and the state is currently in deep political crises. The legislators can simply allow Elechi to finish his term but it is seen as a battle of supremacy. If the same house that has not found him
corrupt for the last 3 years is now singing another tune, then it’s all politics. Buhari’s

Beautiful Chatham House Speech:

Against all odds, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) finally appeared at Chatham House, United Kingdom last Thursday,
dousing the tensions in some circles about his health. Gen
Buhari made a beautiful speech which he highlighted most of his programs if he is elected as the next Nigerian President. Nigerians have never lacked beautiful speeches. Madam Oby Ezekwesili speech at a summit of APC in 2013 remains of
the finest speeches but has APC learnt anything from that
speech since then? The problem will have in this county is not about any presenting beautiful speech. If countries are being ruled by the number of newspaper opinions, documentaries, Press Releases and Speeches, Nigeria will be one of the best organized countries. If Buhari is elected, can he be held
accountable by the all the things he had said in his speeches?
Can Nigerians read the long speeches and quote him? Kudos to Buhari and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress for that presentation, I hope Nigeria will become a haven of good places in the nearest future.

Hurray! Mo Ibrahim Foundation has a Winner:

The Outgoing Namibian Leader, President Hifikepunye Pohamba has emerged as the first winner of the annual Mo
Ibrahim Prize for achievement in African Leadership. Established in 2007, the Ibrahim Prize from Mo Ibrahim Foundation recognizes and celebrates excellence in African Leadership. Since 2007, the award has always been
returned because no African Leader has ever deserved to win.
The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award paid over ten years and US $200,000 annually for life thereafter. With this development, President Pohamba has also been Inducted as a member of The Ibrahim Laureate which consists of Presidents
Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique 2007), Festus Mogae
(Botswana 2008), and Pedro Pires (Cape Verde 2011). I never expected a winner so soon. The standard for the Mo Ibrahim award prize are so high that only few leaders in the world can win. With President Pohamba’s victory, I hope the standard will be sustained and the award will be respected. Recommending Pohamba for the award, Salim Ahmed Salim, of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation had this to say
“During the decade of Hifikepunye Pohamba’s Presidency,
Naminbia’s reputation has been cemented as a well governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights”. Nothing more to add. Congratualtions to President Pohamba. It is my prayer that
your successor will build on your achievements and I also hope and pray that one day, a Nigerian President will lead this country out of the woods and be a recipient of a standard award like this and others. African Leaders Arise and take your rightful place.

Woju Remix: A major disappointment

I am not a big fan of Hip-Hop Music let alone the Nigerian
Version. I love music with deep lyrical meanings. For me,
music should go with activism. That’s why I love Reggae. One song that caught my attention earlier this year is “Woju”, a song released by a little known Kiss Daniel. I love the beat, the voice and everything about the song. When I heard a
fortnight ago that the song is to be remixed by Tiwa Savage
and Davido, I was very happy; knowing full well how Tiwa perfected Patoranking’s “Girlie’ O”. I expected a fantastic result in Woju Remix. To say the least, I was disappointed in the outcome. It was below average. What could have gone
wrong with Davido and Tiwa Savage? Maybe there was no
need for remix? At least for now. The Remix is not bigger than the Original and with that, the aim of having a remix has been disappointed. I think the whole idea was rushed and ill-timed. The management of Kiss Daniel got carried away by the
success of the Original Woju. I wish everybody who
contributed to the success of the first and second Woju the best. As for Kiss Daniel, the sky is the starting point.

Congratulations! Jay Jay Okocha and Frank Ilaboya:

‘Yes’, ‘Long overdue’, ‘perfect’ were my words when I heard
Ex-International, Austin Jay Jay Okocha and former chairman,
Lagos state Sports writers association of Nigeria (SWAN) Mr Frank Ilaboya have been elected as the Football Association Chairmen of Delta and Edo states respectively. It is not enough to be a football critics or Ex-International, it is better for people in these categories to step forward and show how it should be done. With the experience of Jay Jay Okocha on the field and outside, one is dead sure that he will bring
development to the football administration in Delta State. Mr
Frank Ilaboya, a seasoned football journalist has a wide range of administrative experience to bring football in Edo State to where it used to be. I congratulate Messrs.’ Jay Jay Okocha and Frank Ilaboya and I wish them success.

Here you have it. See yah nextweek.

Credit: Boyinde Timileyin (Thursday politics on SMB)
By: Scentmarlc

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