FEATURE ARTICLE

Sam AwedaTuesday, March 25, 2008
samaweda@hotmail.com


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FEUDALISM: IS IT WHAT WE NOW PREFER?

define feudalism in this write-up as a situation where one individual sits over the fortune (wealth) of the state and dispenses it to whoever he will, in disregard to guiding principles as set in the Government Order (GO).


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Mallam Aminu Kano, of blessed memory, as the leader of NEPU in the early 6o's earnestly fought, what was then referred to as the Northern oligarchy. Retrospectively, the then Northern oligarchy, whatever its fault, was a million times more sensitive and responsible to her citizens than many of the subsequent Governments, which we have had, beginning from the NPN led government of Alhaji Sheu Shagari. Unfortunately today, Alhaji Musa Balarabe remains a lone voice of the late Mallam.

The present day feudalism might have started in the days of a former military president. It is said of him that he is very kind hearted and generous, who cannot see anyone in problem and closes his eyes on him and that the day he was able to have audience with anyone, ended his poverty. It is also said that he was never short of bags of money in his office as gifts to those who were able to reach him. Stories had it that he allocated ship or ships of crude oil to individuals thus making them millionaires. This is why after many years out of office, he still calls the shot and his abode remains a beehive of activities; a Mecca of some sort with people soliciting for his approval or sponsorship for one political position or the other.

I hope those stories were not true but if they were, the practice, though kind to a few people, was not to the generality of the citizens. It was un-just and a cheat on others; especially that it was not his personal money he was using for his 'Father Christmas' business. It was selective justice and imbalanced generosity or how many people in a population of over 120 million people were able to reach him? It is "Rubbing Peter to pay Paul" because while the bellies of some people could have had the appearance of a pregnant woman, the majority were going about in terrible hunger because there had not been a level playing ground to the nation's wealth. It was the beginning of man worship. His kind heart could have been written in gold had he assembled top administrators and technocrats to evolve plans, which could transform the whole nation and the citizens positively.

Recently, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama received a SOS message from a childhood friend of his, asking for financial assistance. All, which Barack Obama did, was to ask him to apply for any of the nation's welfare programmes that suit his circumstances.

In a number of states, there has risen a kingmaker. I heard of a state where in some instances, the power broker would notice a gathering of mourners, stop his entourage and give the mourners money to assist in funding the funeral. In fact the moment he arrives in town, it is palpable with heavy human traffic to his garden, queuing up for doles and to be served with food. What a marvelous thing if he uses his personal money for the generosity. Unfortunately, it is all at the expense of the state and LG treasuries. Fracas resume when the Governor realizes he cannot run two parallel Governments.

Quite a number of these individual kingmakers were originally wealthy and have in the time past committed their wealth to some philanthropic projects in their different areas; the source of the wealth was immaterial until the recent coming of EFCC and ICPC. With those deeds, they have warmed the hearts of their people. Those philanthropic acts have since then been used as baits, with which they have held their constituents at ransom, making merchandise of us.

Others have overwhelmed their domains with thuggery and beaten them to submission. The citizens have therefore been intimidated and forced to accept them as some chieftains. Having achieved that, they start to dictate the tunes.

The king makers do not necessarily offer themselves for elective posts but with their wealth or power of thuggery, sponsor others who they hope they can always maneuver. He (king maker) therefore afterwards decides who gets a portfolio, starting from the gubernatorial running mate to commissioners, to the post of Permanent Secretaries, to house of assembly, to the chairmanship of each of the Local Government and even to the LG assemblies. He is the deciding de-facto to the budget. He decides how much should be given to him of the State and LG allocation/revenue. The State house occupier is looking for trouble if after he was picked or elected as the case may be; he then decides to do his own agenda. The state will become ungovernable for him and he can as well start to pack his things out of the Government house before he is eventually sacked.

Segun Adeniyi, while actively with 'This Day' Newspaper, few years ago visited the residential compound of the self-acclaimed strong man of Ibadan politics and gave us a vivid account of how the chief played his politics.

From Mr. Adeniyi's report, I can imagine that the sole desire of the chief is to be seen as a man of his own people for his own people but through a wrong path. From the report, he cared less about comfort, as Mr. Adeniyi could not have a decent toilet to use in his vast compound but had to drive kilometers away to ease himself. The old man has the luxury of horses though, as evidenced at the time he graced the former President Obasanjo's Town Day ceremony few years ago with his large entourage, all at the expense of Oyo state treasury. Maintenance of a horse costs a fortune, as we all know. Poor Oyo people; they had a Garrison Commander and an elected governor to maintain at the same time.

He runs a clinic in his compound and he distributes food and money to the people. He must buy the drugs and pay the Health Staff. It requires someone with conglomeration of businesses to do this, the stature of the late MKO or Aliko Dangote. So, he bargains very hard with who ever he will support to the Agodi house. The governor eventually finds himself running two parallel governments.

I am afraid; I will not be able to quote the conclusion of Segun Adeniyi perfectly because it is over 2 years when he did his story. Segun submitted that for peace to reign in Oyo State, it is either that the excesses of the chief are accommodated or he is crushed totally.

Soon after Segun published his story, he had his answer from none others than some of our one time no nonsense Generals. One of them, the immediate past chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali advised that the then Governor must take order from the Chief. One would think he meant joke. If that happens, where then is the "Executive" power of the Governor, translated in Yoruba as "Gomina abase wa?"i.e "The only one who gives order" The Governor did not heed the counsel of Dr. Ali and he was dismissed from the Agodi house at the speed of light.

I had thought the State Governors to be the "C in C" of their respective states. Would Col. Ali (rtd) have asked the Nation's C in C (Mr. President) to take order from someone in the PDP?

To cap it all, the former president, General Obasanjo recently hailed and approved the chief's style of politics because according to the General, "it works" or did he say it produces result?

This kind of utterances is really confusing, coming from elderly people, who one has held in high esteem, who are brilliant and were real achievers and successive in their vocation, when they utter statements, which one would not know how to interpret. Or are we already witnessing the law of diminishing return in these Statesmen?

What works? The chief's welfare programmes are crude as long as he uses the state's money for them, more so that it can never reach all the citizens of the state. Assuming the Molete clinic is accessible to citizens from Makola, Sabo, Oke-Bola, Oke-Ado or Challenge area, is it accessible to citizens from U.I, Sango, Igbeti, Igboho, Iseyin, Saki, Igbo- Ora, Omi Adio or Ogbomoso?

It could have been far neater and glorious had the chief fund his self-aggrandizement welfare activities like a charitable organization in what is called Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) rather than from the public treasury. And when the money from the state and Local governments are not within his expectation, the battle line is drawn with him and the Governor/Government.

It is quite worrisome that these individuals have subdued or put in other words, pocketed their different states to the detriment of the people of the states for too long and I wonder for how long it will remain. And this is how my question arose whether it is feudalism that we now prefer.

The fact that these individuals had used their wealth, position or influence to support their candidates should not translate to their take over of the state treasury. I refer to the U.S. again; no single candidate may have personal resources to fund his/her campaign aspiration to the White House. But never in the history of the U.S has an individual muzzled a president or a state Governor because of his/her contribution to the campaign fund. Of course, some benefits may accrue to him at some stages and it may not at all. But not to dictate what percentage of the Federal allocation should be given to him on monthly basis. In fact the donation of any supporter, whose source of wealth is suspicious ruins the chances of that candidate. Recently, a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton or is it Barack Obama, had to denounce a financial supporter whose source of wealth was found to be questionable. His contributions were subsequently returned.

Every one cannot be in the state house, only those that are gifted with the ability to govern should contest and they do not necessarily have to have the money capability to do the campaigns and that is why God has gifted others with money to support those who are gifted in the act of governance. The one who has the money and supports a candidate should be satisfied that he has used his money to the glory of God as long as his candidate performs and has improved the lives of the governed. Both the financial and the governor are doing God's bid to make life livable for His (God) children (the citizens) and each person will have his reward according to His (God) judgement. It is just like our body where every part has its different role and one part cannot claim superiority over the other. Kingmakers in Nigeria have been cursed with the plague 'ego'. Unfortunately they do not realize that it is one of the sins that God detests most. It was what led Lucifer, an arch Angel of God to be thrown out of heaven, for which he cannot receive pardon. The scripture says "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

The war hero General approved the Molete style of politics because the ekerin of Ibadan is delivering the votes for the PDP, which the war General has vowed to be 'a do or die affair' and couldn't be bothered, through whichever means; fair, foul, crook, or thuggery or can the Balogun claim ignorance to all the allegations that the chief commands thugs, who are always battle ready to unleash terror on his opponents at his command? Or is this a General's democracy? Sir, it is not democracy but feudalism, lawlessness and jungle life style.

And is this not the same General, who in 1977 or thereabout, some "unknown soldiers" in his government turned the compound of the late king of afro beat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti to rubbles under the accusation that Fela named his house "Kalakuta Republic" and his Government could not tolerate the running of another republic in a republic? But in 2008, he threw his weight behind some un-official, un-elected persons lording it over the elected; the same way he closed his eyes to the terrible vandalism that took place in Anambra state few years back by another PDP 'king maker'

I hope the General will remind himself as someone with a humble background and except that the government was responsible and allowed a level playing ground, when he was growing, he could not have realized his potentials.

I continue to wonder what anyone who thinks normally, will make of the long list of who is who in the society who were present at the night long carnival that followed the release from prison of the former governor of Bayelsa state, DSP Alamieyeseigha who was jailed for laundering the state money. In the time past in Nigeria, people distanced themselves from people of questionable character. Unfortunately today, we roll drums to meet them.

In spite of the huge amount of the state money convicted of the former governor as having stolen, money that was supposed to be used for their welfare, yet the same people who were robbed, trooped out to celebrate his release from prison. It was a nightmare to all I conversed with. Is it that the huge crowd who attended the ceremony disbelieved the accusation of the EFCC against him or do they believe he was wrongly convicted? I want to think they believed that he stole the state money but the only explanation I can reason out is that he, DSP must have doled out something one way or the other, one time or the other when he was in office to those who celebrated his release from prison. For God sake, in what way, could the doles, which the infamous Governor distributed, could have benefited the people of Balyesa compared with developing the state, which has been neglected by different governments over the years? And it is for this reason I am asking in this write-up whether it is Feudalism that we now prefer as opposed to equitable distribution of the public wealth.

The money, which the former governor was convicted of being stolen, I believe can create waterways from the Delta region to Lagos and fund quite a lot of other developments; all which can boost their trades, which could have gone a long way to alleviate their poverty.

I had thought that what any electorate would demand from the politicians are things, which will be of lasting value rather than accepting money or bags of rice, which benefit is of a short duration. It is unfortunate that we have fast become the Biblical Esau who traded his birthright for a single-piece of meal (Heb.12:6).

We can allege poverty and ignorance in some quarters for these occurrences, which I have been talking about but the roll-call of those we regard as eminent personalities, who were present at the celebration, after the release from prison of DSP Alamiesiegha, presents with a lot of confusion and worry. The utterances, behaviour and practices of many others among us, who we regard as eminent is of real concern and I ask, "Is it feudalism that we now prefer?

If not, then we need spiritual deliverance from the hands of the feudal lords. It is then very important and urgent for those who address the public in large numbers on Sundays and Fridays, to start to do the deliverance by educating our people on accepting a better alternative from our leaders. It is important and urgent for teachers at all levels up to the University to educate the illiterate parents through their children at school. We deserve better and ought to be treated as humans because God has placed enormous resources at our disposal, which are highly sufficient to make us live well.

Sam Aweda is President & Snr. Pastor, Jesus for the World Revival Mission

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