By Isaac Asabor
They are there on social media and exist at community level. “Dis baba dey try well well! See as e don set the gofment well well! Edon change the government as he talk during campaign”, said the young man who had stopped at an “Ogogoro” shop around Ogba-Agege axis in Lagos to buy one “tot” of “Ogogoro” mixed with “Dongoyaro”, while on his way to play “Baba-Ijebu”; a street slang for a daily lottery commonly played by sports bettors in Lagos state.
Being obsessed with the admiration he has for his political hero, and being under the influence of the “Ogogoro” which is equally called “Paraga”, and being inebriated, he wobbly walked to his regular port of call; the vendor’s stand at Ogba bus stop. As he rowdily spoke about how his “baba” has been performing, and fulfilling his campaign promises, another youngster who has been searching for job since he graduated from the university years back, ostensibly out of frustration, angrily shut him down; “Who you talk sey e don change the gofment for better? Since we vote for am, wetin e don do? Nor let me change am for youoooooo”.
Without resort to affront on any political supporter in this context, the foregoing heated discussions about which political leader is fulfilling his promises for his or her constituents is what is commonly discussed across vendor’s stand, commercial buses, markets, communities, relaxation spots and particularly on social media platforms as the ongoing political dispensation is gradually winding up ahead of 2023.
As the heated discussions are by each passing day becoming rife, and in most cases lead to beefing among friends, and even family members, one is compelled to ask, “Why do party supporters defend failed or failing co-political affiliates even when evidences abound that they are percentages away from fulfilling what they promised they would do during electioneering campaign, and can glaringly be seen in their collective performance records?” Then, you try answering the question yourself. “Is it because of what they stand to gain, or do they do so as a way of supporting their kinsmen?”, “Or they just want to support failure to remain loyal to their party?”
Regrettably, most of these rabid party supporters have become accustomed to seeing and accepting their immediate and remote constituencies being poorly administered, and paradoxically relish in failure in governance that is evidently characterized by insecurity, poverty, hunger, unemployment, soaring inflation, unprecedented rates of business collapse, threat to human rights in all its ramifications among other undemocratic indicators.
In fact, bootlicking political followers are unarguably readily disposed to exhibit their fatalistic attitude and willingness to accept specious excuses from their party affiliates who are underperforming in their duties. But alas! No matter how defensive they have become, they cannot defend the fact that our country’s economy is fast wobbling and by each passing becoming parlous; this is how they are; a country where bootlickers that are equally been misgoverned are falling head over heels in the bid to curry favor from leaders that are misgoverning them. In fact, we are in a parlous situation where underperforming leaders are not held to account for poor delivery of “dividends of democracy or poor and unreliable services, rather they are obsequiously glorified. In fact, sanctions for poor performance, incompetent management, and corruption are often not robust or demanded enough.
Not only are bootlicking followers that unarguably constitute a wide spectrum of the political-demographic segment of the society are averse to good democratic governance, they are also averse to recognizing performing leaders that are affiliated to opposing political parties when things are done well. They want to unpatriotically resort to condoning poor governance as long as it benefits them and member of their families and friends.
With the partisan disposition of bootlicking followers, relatively few underperforming politicians are held accountable unless they blatantly steal large sums of money, even at that, their sins can be forgiven”, according to former Governor of Edo State, and former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. To them, government officials that are affiliated to their party can remain in office when in any other self-respecting democratic country resignation would be mandatory.
To them, politicians and political appointees can mismanage institutions and programmes and not be removed from office or are allowed to just move on to another political sinecure, without acceptance of responsibility or any sanction for failure.
Without result to insult, bootlicking are just too accustomed to incompetence to bother to complain.
In this context, it is expedient to opine that underperforming political leaders are not solely to blame for bad leadership as their followers can also be blamed for not always telling the truth about their shoddy performances. On the flipside, followers and leaders can buffer undesirable effects on democratic functioning towards good governance.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it can be argued that leadership and followership are crucial intertwined aspects of political party functioning and can determine how far good governance could be attained.
Experience has revealed that it takes the praise-singing of the followers of any political leader to be corrupt; the moment a leaders understands that his followers are not willing to collaborate with him in his evil ways, that, in fact, they are determined to expose him, he would desist from engaging in evil.
At this juncture, it is expedient to say that both toxic political leaders and followers are to be blamed for the pitiable state in which Nigeria finds itself today. To heap the blames for all our woes entirely on the leaders is, I think, with due respect, to miss the point. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as the bible in Amos chapter 3 verse 3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
Unarguably, the flip side of leadership is followership. It stands to reason that if leadership is important to performance, followership must have something to do with it too. But curiously, followership gets only a small fraction of the airtime that leadership does. It is against the backdrop of the foregoing reasoning that it can be considered to be logical to perceive underperforming political leaders and their boot-licking followers as two sides of a coin
It is not in any way specious in this context to blame bootlicking political followers as accomplice of underperforming and corrupt political politicians, particularly as they provide huge supports for politicians to cause the people humiliating miseries from one political dispensation to another. To buttress the foregoing view, it is expedient to cite George Orwell, the legendary English writer and journalist, who once said: “A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims but accomplices.” There is no denying the fact that amidst electioneering ahead of any election; whether general election or by-election, that it is an open secret that political bootlickers are wont to collect rice and vegetable oil to vote leaders into office. It is not an exaggeration to say that some of them that persistently and zealously campaigned for politicians are sometimes rewarded with political appointments. Analyzed from the foregoing perspective, the thinking that “When you bite the hand that feeds you, you are being unthankful, ungrateful, and unappreciative, becomes buttressing enough in this context.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.