Hometruths by Adeola Akinremi: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love the ex-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. I follow him religiously. I do same for the people I love their candour, whether in business, religion or politics.
In an Op-ed Blair penned for the New York Times last Friday, he counselled politicians on emotional response in politics.
“Outrage is easy; strategy is hard. Outrage provides necessary motivation. But only strategy can deliver victory,” he wrote.
Fair point. Blair surely speaks to the rise of alt-right populism in America and Europe that threatens the existing orders in party politics, and the fight-back plan.
For us in Nigeria, politics is being reshaped in Ogun State. The traditional way of interacting and engaging with voters is changing. In politics, disruption is the new normal. It goes with strategy. The Senator from Lagos West is the centre of that disruption.
To set you up, disruption as we learned in classroom means unruly behaviour, but in business it’s innovation.
Actually, when you think of disruption, you think of technology. In Nigeria, think of the banking industry, how Fola Adeola and Tayo Aderinokun disrupted their industry that changed the face of banking industry, and the way we bank in the country. Tony Elumelu, who parented Standard Trust Bank (STB) that later acquired United Bank of Africa, is another example. It was STB that first opened savings account for students with no initial deposit. The bank attracted large base of customers, mostly young people. I remember how NYSC members flooded the STB located on Oba Akran Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos, to open account, back in the days.
The other example is Mike Adenuga. When Globacom, founded by Adenuga got its license, MTN and Econet Wireless (now Airtel) were already in business in the Telco industry. But when Adenuga launched Globacom in August 2003, he disrupted the business with per seconds billing, making it easy for everyone who cares to connect. It changed the Telco industry.
Bill Gates with Windows 95, Mark Zuckerberg with facebook, and Ray Tomlison, who invented email, all have something in common: disruption.
In politics, we’re seeing disruption taking root. Senator Adeola appears to be an expert in disruptive politics with record achievement. When he ran for office in Lagos West as a Senator he eliminated the rock of politics in that district. For instance, Enock Ajiboso, a one-time local government chairman and commissioner in Lagos, who is well-known for his grassroots politics in Lagos West failed in the face of Adeola’s disruptive politics. The former Lagos State deputy governor, Orelope Adefulire, who could boast of inheritance in politics of Lagos West, was compressed by Yayi. His arch-rival, Segun Adewale, a.k.a Aeroland, highly famous in Lagos West for his door-to-door politics was also flattened in the election by Yayi.
Interestingly, political establishments in Ogun State, where Yayi is now in superior ground game, building political infrastructure to become the next governor, are not looking at the prism of Yayi’s politics; they are stuck with old idea of regions and endorsements of establishment.
And though, Yayi is favoured by regional political consideration and may be blessed by establishment endorsement, the small-statured politician with deft passes in politics is playing a game too strong to compete in, leaving nothing to chances.
Yayi is moving away from the traditional ways of connecting and interacting with voters. An early bird in political campaign with unusual money in his wallet, Townhall meetings, field organisers approach, conclave with influencers and mixed media have been used by Yayi to get to where he’s.
But Yayi is doing something else in addition, grievances of the old and the young in Ogun State that the economic gains of the last decades have not been shared widely enough for the prosperity of the people of the state are being fed into his message indirectly, while putting patriotism in the front.
In a video recorded during one of his conclaves with influencers, he said: “We didn’t say they (current government) have not done something, but it can be better.” Then, he responded to those challenging his right to contest in Ogun State this way: “If a child makes success of his trade abroad, it will be beneficial to a whole community, if he returns home.”
It may be hard to stop Yayi for many reasons, if you look at his antecedents and politics. His early start strategy naturally keeps some lily-liver contenders out of the race. It also helps him get feedback early from those supporting and opposing him, which turns out to be his formula for victory as he improves on strategy.
He ran for Senate in a district with the largest population in Lagos that is almost the size of Ogun State, if not equal in terms of inhabitants.
But this is what I fear. The old rivalry between Yewa North and South that stopped Chief Tunji Otegbeye from becoming the Ogun State governor at an auspicious time; the fragmented Yewa politics that frustrated Chief Jonathan Odebiyi from channeling development to Yewaland; the regret that Senator Afolabi Olabimtan carried into the grave, the struggle of Hon.Abiodun Akinlade and the pain of disunity suffered by Gboyega Isiaka and Tunji Olurin remains at the heart of Yewa politics.
And this, the Ijebu people are coming and the Yewa disunity is always an advantage for any candidate from other region.
Of course, the cosmopolitan city of Lagos cannot be equated with a rural state like Ogun, where perception and perspectives play major role in voters’ mind.
But Yayi’s breakthrough in Ogun State will mean a smashed ceiling for old politics and recapture of opportunities for young people to run for office in a state, where the will of the political establishments have made it difficult for most aspirants to climb political ladder. It’s still a game.