2023: Political Visit to Traditional Rulers – Of What Use?

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2023: Political Visit to Traditional Rulers – Of What Use?

April 22
15:41 2022

One of the rituals all entrants into a political contest always perform in a manner reminiscent of appeasing some gods is visiting traditional rulers in search of endorsements of their aspiration. This is not to downplay the essence of the traditional stools and/or weight of the personalities on the throne. It is just that such visits to traditional rulers are fast becoming efforts merely taken to play to the gallery rather than see their electoral fortune positively advanced at the poll.

In fact, if history is anything to go by, politicians, especially those vying for the topmost job in the land, have no success story to tell as a result of their visits to palaces. One notable example that readily comes to mind is the image of former President Goodluck Jonathan encircled by a number of traditional rulers who stretched their traditional staff towards the Bayelsa-born politician who was practically down on his bended knees seeking reelection, and invoked ancestral blessings on the then President.

President Jonathan would later be trounced in an election that marked a major shift in Nigeria’s history of politics. Neither the ancestral blessings invoked nor the incumbency factor could help Jonathan with a second term. Other examples abound of royal support for gubernatorial and legislative candidates that amounted to a loss or failure at the poll.

In the run up to 2023 general elections, as at the last count, not less than a dozen of presidential aspirants have visited palaces of several first class kings across the country. From the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and even to those jostling for the ticket of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), like Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; all of them have taken turns to go on pilgrimage to the palaces with their entourage to seek traditional blessings for their aspiration. Chief among the top kings who have hosted politicians have been: Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba of Benin, Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Obi of Onitsha, Awujale of Ijebuland, Alake of Egbaland, Emir of Katsina, to mention of few.

One interesting thing about these visits is that the kings always pray that the heavens grant the heart desire of each visiting aspirant – utterances that many describe as mere diplomatic pronouncements. In fact, equivocation is always the order of the day when most of the traditional rulers give speeches. They are not obliged to take sides politically in the first place. Only a very tiny fraction among the kings openly identifies with any of the candidates,unabashedly endorses the political figures and presents them to the subjects. It is a different matter entirely if such public display of endorsement translates to success at the poll.




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