Ondo State: Loyalty, Psycho Politics And Media Criers


By Dimeji Daniels

The dictionary defines loyalty as the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations or faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause.

As common as the word may sound, and despite the throng laying claim to it in their daily activities, in the words of Maurice R. Franks, it “cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart – the centre of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it – and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.” This explanation is a clear witness to the fact that not all who claim loyalty have it in them or can be trusted for their words, for deep inside them may be their personal intents and purposes which by all means are not in tandem with collective interest.

For ages in the affairs of mankind, loyalty is one attribute or character trait that has remained an important subject of discussion and a veritable tool with which leaders, even the tyrannical or greedy ones, hope to drive their government to success or whatever objectives they have in mind. Despotic leaders like Adolf Hitler and Musolini had to whip their followers into submission, not just with sweet words (as applicable to Hitler), but with force and fear. This, they did, to elicit loyalty from their subjects. In today’s world, due to modern trends and a sensitive-like-never-before global community, leaders are increasingly finding it very difficulty to use force. Thus, many of them have resorted to oratory skills or surreptitious violent means to cow their subjects into submission and to send a strong message that they are not to be taken for granted. Instances of this are opposition members who suddenly disappear only for their dead bodies to later turn up somewhere, or opposition members who have had their meetings or gathering violently disrupted.

This tactic is a common feature of politics in developing or under-developed countries, without the exception of Nigeria because, just like in other places, Nigerian leaders crave loyalty even if they don’t deserve it.

Loyalty is two-pronged, one side to the government and the other side to the governed. Unfortunately, overtime, especially in Africa, it is only the government side that has demanded loyalty from the governed, using all techniques necessary to achieve this. Despite the religious fact that government has a social contract with the people, whatever cry for loyalty by the people from the government has always fallen on deaf ears.

Just as explained by Maurice Franks, loyalty is inborn. A man who does not have it cannot suddenly claim to have imbibed it overnight as loyalty is an aggregate of the character traits of an individual. A loyal man will be loyal to his leaders (or those through whom he rose to the top) and the people down the ladder. He cannot claim to be loyal to one and disloyal to the other for loyalty is not disjointed, but a force for good to both the governed and the government.

This brings me to the political career of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, who all along had always had one fallout or the other with his bosses. After resigning from the Adefarati administration in November 2002, Mimiko teamed up with Segun Agagu under who he became the Secretary to the State Government in 2003. He only reconciled with Adefarati few months to his death, but that reconciliation did not stop the disruption of the Adefarati Memorial Lecture in Akure, an act that many have laid at the doorstep of Mimiko due to what they term political intolerance which bears no allegiance to the memory of the dead.

To actualise his governorship ambition which set him against Adefarati in the first instance, Mimiko again became disloyal to another of his bosses and defected to the Labour Party. President Obasanjo, who made Mimiko a minister in 2005, also had a taste of this, as Mimiko’s gubernatorial ambition just must have its way irrespective of whose ox is gored or which loyalty is betrayed.

The National Leader of Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, recently granted an interview in London where he said  Mimiko promised to defect to the ACN 30 days after his declaration as governor by the Appeal Court, but that promise, if it was ever made, obviously didn’t pan out. Rather, the Chairman of Mimiko’s Labour Party, Wanyanwu, heaped abuses on Tinubu and claimed that the ACN leader never did anything for Mimiko. If this is so, why then did Mimiko lash into unending praise of Tinubu at his inauguration on February 24, 2009 at the Akure Sports Complex? There were also claims of a bullet-proof jeep that was bought for the Ondo State Governor as part of security measures during what he (Mimiko) referred to himself as “days in the trenches”.

Adaba FM, which also played a role in the governor’s victory, was praised in his inaugural speech, but the music has since changed. At some point, the station had to battle an artificial gully that was allegedly Mimiko’s handiwork just because it allowed other political parties air their opinions on its airwaves.

Are all these a continuation of Mimiko’s betrayal streak? Is it that he has truly forgotten as his favourite song says: “E ti mu mi gbagbe ibanuje igba kan, asewere nise Oluwa, Oba ti a pe to nje, asewere nise Oluwa, Oba ti a pe to nje” (You have made me forget the past difficulties. God’s deliverance is timely, the God who answers promptly). Has Iroko forgotten all his past travails and benefactors that he can throw mud in their faces?

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The ambition of Mimiko came to fruition on February 23, 2009 when the Benin division of the Appeal Court declared him winner of the 2007 governorship election in Ondo State. His promises at his swearing-in included: “I will work for you. I will work for you. I will ensure that no Ondo State indigene goes to bed hungry.” Three and a half years down the line, have those promises been transmitted into reality beyond the beautification of Akure and the Mother and Child Hospital in the State capital? Are Ondo State youths gainfully employed? Are the artisans happy? Indigenes and residents of Ondo State will answer these better, especially those in Akoko, Ondo South and parts of Ondo Central. What has Mimiko done for them or their towns and villages? Are they not going to bed hungry anymore? Is Mimiko working or has worked for them? In comparison with the N407 billion that has accrued to the state as allocation under Mimiko, besides IGR, can the projects on ground measure up?

Rather than allowing the masses to ask these questions, the government of Mimiko seems to have taken to psycho politics. Psycho politics is the art and science of asserting and maintaining dominion over the thoughts and loyalties of individuals, officers, bureaus, and masses. In the defunct USSR, psycho politics was used to create chaos and distrust, not only in the camp of the enemy, but among the populace (masses), making the people believe that communist government is the only one with solutions to their problems. The use of psycho politics is made more effective in places where previous governments have failed, thus whatever little crumbs the new government offers is considered good enough by the simple-minded. In an address, Lavenlia Beria stated that the “strength and power of psycho politics cannot be overestimated, particularly when used in a nation decayed by pseudo-intellectualism, where exploitation of the masses combines readily with psycho political actions, and particularly where the greed of capitalistic or monarchial regimes has already brought about an overwhelming incidence of neurosis which can be employed as the groundwork for psycho political action.”

Unlike in USSR where medical procedures such as implantation were used to dominate the thoughts of the people, the technique employed in Ondo State is subtle force, massive media dominance and allegedly bought awards. A female friend whose parents are civil servants in Ondo State confirmed to me that civil servants are compelled to attend Mimiko’s rallies to give an impression of crowded rallies while in fact his camp had been depleted. This tactic is not too dissimilar to those used in USSR.

To effect media dominance, Mimiko hired media criers to shout his government’s praise from the rooftop and hype the beautification of the state capital, while drawing people’s attention away from the other towns which have been left unattended to by the Mimiko administration. A quick trip to Ondo North, Ondo South and parts of Ondo Central will confirm this. Interacting with the people from these areas, you would feel their distaste.

This not withstanding, however, media criers seem to be doing an awfully good job of muzzling the voice of those in these abandoned cities and making those in the state capital believe that development is ongoing in the other towns as well, but entering Ondo State from the Ekiti axis bears witness to the neglect suffered by the other towns. The only visible project of the State Government in Iju/Ita-Ogbolu is the construction of a neighbourhood market, which of course, according to the Fourth Schedule, section 1 (e) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, is the function of a local government.

To take up the media propaganda a notch higher, the Mimiko government also established a new radio station “Orange FM” despite having a State TV and radio. Obviously, this may be his move to check stations like Adaba FM and probably Positive FM which give more airtime to opposition parties.

Just as the media campaign, awards, though allegedly bought, also keep trickling in. Last week, while in far away Italy, securing one of such awards, his house back home was on fire as staff unions of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko protested non-payment of their allowances. What then are these awards meant for? Propaganda or publicity?

For those who may not know, propaganda is when you are not performing and shouting in people’s ears endlessly that you are. Publicity, on the other hand, is when you are performing and you are letting people know that you are. Which one is Mimiko embarking on? Does a performing public office holder even need to blow his own trumpet? Can the people not see the evidence? In Ondo State, save for people in Akure, what do people see in Akoko, Owo, Ondo, Idanre, Ile-Oluji, Okitipupa, Igbokoda, Iju-Ita/Ogbolu, Owena, Igbara-Oke, Ibuji and many others? A chat with people in these mentioned areas will show you that Governor Mimiko is more of a propagandist than a performer.

In the Ode to Mazzini, Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote: “The highest spiritual quality, the noblest property of mind a man can have, is this of loyalty … a man with no loyalty in him, with no sense of love or reverence or devotion due to something outside and above his poor daily life, with its pains and pleasures, profits and losses, is as evil a case as man can be.”

Loyalty and politics are like siamese twins. There can never be good politics without loyalty. Those in government must not only demand loyalty of the people, they must, more importantly, be loyal to the people by working to bring sincere and lasting development to the lives of the masses. This of course means jobs for them and food in their stomach as opposed to beautification amidst hunger.

Can a man who all along has fallen out with political leaders be sincerely loyal to the people? Can a disloyal follower make a good leader? As Maurice Franks put it “loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart – the centre of self-respect and human dignity…”

•Daniels wrote from Ekiti State

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