A spectre hangs over Ogun State. This is the issue of stomach infrastructure. Originating in Ekiti, it is now rampant. The current reality TV-type show in Ogun State between the high-octane governor and his dissatisfied deputy also reflects the absence of structured institutions in Nigeria.
This in itself portrays the stultification of the democratic ethos. After so many years since the hard – won restoration of democracy from the grip of the military, we really ought to have moved beyond being just a ‘semi-democracy’. The concept of semi – democracy comes out of the Economist magazine. Unfortunately, it has stuck. In addition we appear to be resolutely determined to conform to what ought to be seen as an insult.
The Ogun State Deputy Governor, Segun Adesegun, is from all accounts, as mad as hell and he is not about to take it anymore. In a letter dated 24 October, 2014, the Adesegun unveiled a litany of woes. The punch line in a 10- paragraph letter is that Adesegun, obviously a sensitive sort of chap, feels deeply belittled. His boss, Ibikunle Amosun, has, among other things, starved his high office of the necessary funds and to add insult to contrived injury, the deputy has been allocated old, weather-beaten vehicles that make a mockery of his exalted status.
After all, in our country’s culture of entitlement, political office should go with the other-worldly perks. The man has not been allocated his perceived share of the goodies and he is not in the business of taking it any more. It looks as if Governor Amosun has been too busy with the state's infrastructure to have that much time for his deputy’s share of the stomach infrastructure bit.
There is a dichotomy here. The commentarial poke fun at the little fellas for demanding Fayose-style stomach, infrastructure while demanding their own share of the cookies. For this reason they are in a pickle when a member of the establishment, a whole deputy governor can be so peeved. Do they support the deputy? Or ignore the dispute, as in when, two .., if you know what I mean, fall out?
To make it all even more surreal, the state Commissioner for Information, Yusuf Olaniyonu, hasn’t got the foggiest idea about the spat, obviously he first read about it in a scoop by The Punch. Well it gets curioser and curiouser as Alice was wont to observe in wonderland.
And it is wonderland in Ogun State. The state is faction-riven on all sides over the issue of booty-sharing. The dispute between the governor and his deputy has nothing to do with philosophical, let alone ideological differences. There are no known disagreements over let us say, economic and industrial policy, or any other policy for that matter.
A toy for Segun
Here we have the issue of entitlement also known as stomach infrastructure at the highest level. The little folks in Ekiti State have been berated for voting with their stomach. Now that the virus has spread to the top, what do we do? Well, for a start, Amosun really ought to have carved out an empire for his beleaguered spare- tyre.
Many of his contemporaries have taken this sensible route. If he had given the disaffected not-very-conquering Segun a portfolio, this would have kept him happy. A fiefdom of one’s own keeps the devil at bay, very much like giving toy to a baby to play with. The British have an admirable way of solving this issue. They have over time invented all kinds of weird posts to keep the potentially disaffected or uppity very happy.
For example, you have a Postmaster-General, who has virtually nothing to do with the postal system. There is also a verbose sounding ‘Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,’ who does not amount to all that much either. What is key here is to have a big-sounding post without a meaningful portfolio attached to it. The potential irritant can be kept busy in a lot of ways.
These include allocating an extra-large official residence as well as a bigger official car than that used by the ultimate ‘Oga’ at the top. Add in loads of foreign trips to exotic lands to witness independence anniversaries, swearing-in ceremonies and sporting fiestas and the fella is kept happy, forgetting that he doesn’t have any real powers.
It is also a way of avoiding allocating real jobs to the politically powerful. For example, Obasanjo should have used this route to avoid making party bigwig and potential irritant, Anthony Anenih, Minister of Works. This is a country without infrastructure and the Works Ministry is a strategic post that ought to have gone to someone with real, proven managerial sagacity. Anenih should have been given a non-job with a grandiose title to keep him busy.
For this reason, Amosun, who we are told, has put in a sterling performance should give his unhappy deputy some toys to play with. In doing so, he can make Segun happy again and also have time to concentrate on his day's job with minimal distractions.
Rex, a public affairs analyst, lives in Lagos