By Dr John Ekundayo
“When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go . . .” – Barack Obama
Can a kingmaker, in a twist and turn, become a king?
Seemingly, the first personality that made the tag: “kingmaker” popular was Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick. Hence, kingmaker first found its way into the lexicon in 1599, but was rather popular in the 19th century as a proper diction with global acceptance and recognition. According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 2010 report, it has been subsequently used by politicians who help others attain power. Traditionally, the original kingmakers wanted to be king but were restrained legally, culturally and politically. Historically, Sonia Gandhi, a political kingmaker, was expected to become Indian Prime Minister in 2014 after her party won the election, but rather declined to mount the saddle.
Mr. Lee Jay-oh, a conservative South Korean politician who was nicknamed a kingmaker. According to him: “I helped him (Lee Myung-bak) become president, but I’ve never wielded undue power.” This is according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report. He was widely reported as a close associate and confidant of the then South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak. In the process of time, Lee Jay-oh ended up throwing up his hat into the ring as a presidential aspirant of the ruling party in his country as there was no seeming cultural or constitutional constraint convincing him otherwise. Lee Jay-oh was so much concerned that South Korea was drifting and needed electoral reforms that would jettison the one term five-year rule for a two-term four-year rule. He had his own strong reasons. However, when the chips were down, he was a gallant loser!
In another political scenario, in another Asian country, there was a man, who was determined, against all odds, to make a remarkable difference. Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, a physician, politician, author and statesman, eventually, after a series of political twists and turns, became Malaysia’s 4th Prime Minister holding office from July 1981 to October 2003. As at the time of being in the saddle in the South East Asia country, he was in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). Doctor M, as he was being referred to by his many admirers and adherents, was the father of modern Malaysia and was in strong competition (in terms of initiating policies and programmes to better the lots of Malaysians) with Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), former Prime Minister and later Minister Mentor of neighbouring, Singapore. His administration ushered in unprecedented and unique socio-economic and political development of Malaysia that could nor be gainsaid or jettisoned even by bitter critics of his style.
Dr M, bowed out gracefully, after winning five consecutive general elections, with an emotion laden speech that enacted tears from the eyes of party stalwarts and stakeholders. However, he turned into a kingmaker! He literally hand-picked his successor, Abdullahi Ahmad Badawi, who later got the boot as a fallout of strident criticism and opprobrium of Doctor M. Badawi, described as a “good man” by this columnist PhD’s supervisor, a Malaysian, was not a good leader as perceived by many political seers and analysts. Doctor M would not open his eyes for Badawi to run the country, he laboured so much to build, aground, Najib Razak took over the baton from Badawi in quick succession.
However, corruption marked and marred the tenure of Najib, the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia. The opposition gathered together akin to what took place in the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in Nigeria in 2013 (albeit in different political context), and in a jiffy, called on Dr. M to come lead them with certain caveat which he obliged to as he wanted eagerly to rescue his beloved country out of apparent economic and political rot. In essence, a king that turned, in a political twist and turn, to a kingmaker, was now being toasted and tossed to be a king upon the same political throne!
Yes, Dr. Mahathir, the 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia, broke records in a seemingly uncommon and unique political lexicon – a king, a kingmaker and then, a king! Thus, in the most often quoted saying of Barack Obama: “There is nothing impossible to they who will try . . .”
Tinubu: Any Sin In Having A Dream?
Literally, any man or woman can have a dream. However, dreams should be shared only at the appropriate time. Biblically, Joseph ran into a troublesome time when, basking in the unique encomiums poured upon him by his father, who preferentially made him a coat of many colours, as a mark of distinction and dignity. Thereafter, he elatedly and enthusiastically expressed his dreams of reigning and ruling over his household despite being almost the youngest – he was senior only to Benjamin in the hierarchy, by age! He nearly lost his life; nevertheless, his dreams came to pass beyond all wildest imagination as he ruled over not just his nation but presided over the most economically and politically powerful nation of the world of his time – Egypt. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, accountant, politician, senator and former Governor of Lagos State, is a political juggernaut, apparently a “man of timber and caterpillar” (apology to the late Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe of blessed memory). Asiwaju Tinubu who is arguably enigmatic and apparently controversial to some critics, was recently in the news. He was in Aso Rock, the seat of power, to jaw jaw with President Muhammadu Buhari and more importantly intimating him with his “categorial” (in his own diction) intention to contest in the presidential election of 2023. The die is cast!
In a widely published and publicised press briefing, Jagaban, as Tinubu is widely referred to by his adherents and admirers, declared that the ambition of becoming Nigeria’s president has been his lifelong dream. This columnist has written in times past of the need to tickle Tinubu into the ring of presidential aspirants.
It is not just Tinubu, this columnist has declared over major media platforms (TVC New Breakfast, Channels TV Sunrise, and Arise Morning Show), as many people, who possess the political personality, profile, pedigree and profundity should throw their hats into the ring! The more, the merrier!! Enough of “accidental presidents and governors” all over Nigeria’s political landscape!!! How? For instance, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, after being released from prison in 1998 had the leadership of the country thrusted on him without his demanding or desiring it! Hence, Nigerians should not blame him; he did not prepare for the onerous duty of a democratic leader. He was a military leader. He did his best, though, like one of my mentors would say; his best was not enough! Obasanjo, to his credit, gave us some enduring institutions.
Moreover, Dr Jonathan Ebele Goodluck also was another “accidental president” thrusted on Nigerians due to the ill health and eventual demise of Alhaj Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who succeeded Obasanjo. Neither of the duo had a vision of becoming president. This must not be allowed to happen in our polity whether at local government or state or federal level again! Enough of “unwilling and/or accidental” governors or presidents!! It is gladdening to read the swelling list of aspirants from the APC and PDP knowing with electioneering antecedents in Nigeria, that either of the candidates from the two most popular parties will emerge as the president aftermath of the election in 2023. It is the desire and demand of this columnist, as a followership scholar and leadership development consultant, to see more people come into the ring to battle for the tickets of both the APC and PDP.
Followers: What Is Expected Of You?
Any aspirant could have a dream; you cannot stop a person from dreaming but followers in Nigeria should be interested in the trajectory of such personalities to the throne. Followers: it is high time we collectively and collaboratively, in a coordinated fashion, jettisoned venison from politicians. All sorts of “dainty meats and fresh mints” should be discountenanced. The followers, potential and registered voters, should rather engage the aspirants to see what they carry on their inside! A man or woman that could not run his company or business sustainably, has no business in vouching to become the president of Nigeria!
Moreover, there should be more interface with all aspirants: anyone among aspirants shunning debates, dialogues and discourses about salient issues of state should be discarded as the polls. Simple and straightforward! Potential followers should go forward to acquire their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and registered voters should endeavour to update their PVC’s status.
In addition, the professional bodies (Nigeria Bar Association, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Medical Association, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Institute of Directors, etc.) and labour unions (Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress) should encourage, enlighten, educate and embolden their members to peacefully and proactively participate in the forthcoming elections with Ekiti and Osun States gubernatorial elections taking place this 2022.
In this series: Tinubu’s trajectory to the throne, this columnist, with the space allotted, will delve into his pedigree and profile in subsequent editions juxtaposing it with issues of state demanding urgent answers. Meanwhile, to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Senator Pius Anyim Pius, Governor Dave Umahi, and hosts of other who had declared and are preparing to declare their intention to run, my counsel will be that offered by the 44th President of the United States of America (USA), Barack Obama: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”
John Ekundayo, Ph.D. – Harvard-Certified Organizational Strategist, and also a Leadership Development Consultant, can be reached via 08155262360 (SMS only) and email@example.com