As disingenuous and potentially dangerous as Governor Seyi Makinde’s appointment of NURTW kingpin Mukaila Auxiliary (Chair of the cheekily named ‘Park Management’) is, it is not the real trap before the governor. The real Pakute (apologies, Teslim Folarin) is exemplified in this thriving industry of sycophancy and propaganda being built around the governor, you know, the air of infallibility that reflects in the usual Babak’eepe syndrome that has for decades been the bane of purposeful leadership in Africa.
A leader is not some supernatural human being; he’s bound to make mistakes and conceive poor policy ideas. What should ordinarily keep him in check is sound criticism from well-meaning associates and independent voices. But when a sycophantic echo chamber is erected around him, and he is being eulogised for some of the most atrocious, medieval, and potentially cataclysmic policies one can ever find anywhere, danger looms. There are a number of cases one can bring up here but methinks it’s needless.
For some days now, I have been moving around Ibadan, the state capital, and one thing continues to strike me about these novel, 21st-century-oriented businesses and innovative ideas springing up here and elsewhere across the city: the import of peace, security and political stability on societal growth, one which folks have taken for granted all of these years. I lived here temporarily in the locust years of Tawa, Tokyo and other relics and I know what this means. Businesses thrive only under a secure environment and that’s one valid point Makinde’s sycophantic crowd continues to miss in this Auxilliary conundrum.
I hope to stretch these incoherent thoughts into a proper essay maybe later but it is important to quickly say this: Governor Makinde missed a golden opportunity to genuinely write his name in gold via the NURTW ‘reform’ with his clever-by-half politicization of what should have been a radical and forward-thinking initiative. In the end, he has shown that he is no better than the politician nextdoor.
For years, I have researched deeply into the multi-billion naira NURTW economy in Lagos and Oyo and elsewhere and I know for a fact that a complete apolitical and genuinely non-partisan reform of that corrupt behemoth would have changed the face of governance in Oyo for ever. When news of the so-called reform in Oyo filtered in, one was quite enthusiastic and hoped it would be implemented well and adopted by other states, especially in the face of shrinking sub-national revenue. The governor missed it by showing his true colour like a typical politician whose concern is the next election (or, more appropriately now, the covenant of the last election); and, stripped of ideals, that is quite fine. What I find cringeworthy is this desire to manipulate the optics and appear like a visionary statesman whose concern isn’t primarily politics and politicking; that’s f-r-a-u-d.
Based on my own calculation, the governor would get away with this auxilliary misstep. Why? Auxilliary’s emergence may not boomerang in the short run and there wouldn’t be any major crisis. This, however, will happen not because Auxiliary has changed from his violent ways or because his disciples have lost their murderous appetite. But methinks there wont be crisis chiefly because those at the losing end of the governor’s politicking (the Ejiogbe-Fele Caucus) are the relatively peaceful faction of the NuRTW behemoth. Anyone who knows how the behemoth operated from the Tawa-Tokyo era through Eleweomo-Auxilliary locust years knows that Ibadan would be boiling by now had the coin been flipped the other way.
But in all, this development notwithstanding, it remains to be seen how far a culture of mindless sycophancy/propaganda would take this government. And I say this with due acknowledgemenr of the various commendable moves the governor has since made in the last one year, some unknown to his Babak’eepe alleluia crowds even. Although it remains indisputable that the governor is loved by the people, I understand now that a section of the populace is increasingly becoming impatient since very little or nothing is on ground in concrete terms beyond sycophantic rhetorics.
More importantly, because we are all involved in the Oyo humanity, one hopes that the governor would realise rather quickly that the real pakute before him isn’t Teslim Folarin’s, but the sycophantic gymnastics of his ‘Mr-Governor-cant-go-wrong’ alleluia crowd. Hopefully, he would be able to separate the chaff from the wheat. May God help him.
For, what sycophants bring to the table are claims of guber infallibility, which easily graduates into arrogance (of power). On its part, arrogance always leads to moral and political blindness. Blindness leads to isolation, and when any government is isolated from the governed, its massive goodwill notwithstanding, anyone can easily predict the end.
Ultimately, no progressive society is built on the culture of leadership by Ranka-dede.