Salient Lessons for Politicians to Learn from Ganduje’s Reputational Metamorphosis (OPINION) By ISAAC ASABOR

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When Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje was in 2018 accused of collecting wads of dollars from Contractors as first reported by DAILY NIGERIAN that the governor personally receives between 15 to 25 per cent kickbacks for every project executed in the state, and as captured in a video that went viral, not few political observers were of the view that the ugly incident marked the end of his political career.

The reason for the fatalistic line of thinking that was unanimously held by many cannot be farfetched as the evidence was damning and overwhelming. After all, as posited by Eddie Adams in photojournalism, “If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture”. Without doubt, just like a picture that naturally evokes laughter in people to a large extent, the shocking video which showed the Kano State Governor, in black Kaftan, collecting bribe in wads of dollars from a contractor was unarguably hilarious that the social space was literarily derogatory; prominent among them was “Gandollar”.

The humiliation was so pervasive that it would be recalled that ahead of the gubernatorial election in Edo State, last year, Ganduje, while addressing the press, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is only interested in the Edo State treasury, hence the support for Obaseki, and said, “Governor Obaseki will be humiliated and Governor Wike isolated.”

In his reaction, Governor Wike tauntingly said he’s not like Dollars that Ganduje can isolate in his pocket, referring to the ignoble video under reference in this context.

As gathered, sting operation to capture the governor on camera was said to have begun in 2016 when one of the contractors agreed to plant spy camera on his kaftan lapel while offering the bribe. The video clip allegedly showed the governor receiving bribe amounting to about $5million from contractors in the state.

Despite the unarguable smear and negativity that rubbed on his reputation as a governor and a politician, the politician remains in somewhat A-list in Nigerian contemporary political landscape. At this juncture, it is expedient we look into how he has been able to wriggle out from the quagmire of the reputational crisis, and managed to maintain his status as a respected politician.  As a media relations practitioner and a Journalist, permit me to say that the governor’s reputation is far appealing than it was when reports were fresh that he took bribes in dollars from contractors.

At least, in the last few days, the governor has been in the good book of Nigerians as he has unpretentiously and vociferously been seeking and planning enduring avenues of how to mitigate the frequent violent clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers across the states of the federation, contrary to the moves of some northern elites that have been making inflammatory comments.

To my view, his reputation is by each passing day becoming appealing more than ever before. To aptly grasp the kernel of this piece, it is expedient to say that “An online lexicographic website, www.Oxforddictionaries.com defines reputation as the “beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.” It further defines it as “a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic”.  It can also be defined as the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about a social entity (a group of people or an organization).

A good reputation, no doubt is an asset and it is the most favorable goodwill which any man ought to have. Jesus Christ at a point in his redemptive mission on earth asked his disciples in Matthew 16 verse 13, “Who do people say the son of man is?”

In the light of the foregoing, one is compelled to urge our politicians to start doing things that are capable of redeeming their collective reputation. For instance, the one that is known to be a chronic liar since this administration commenced should for once resort to saying the truth. In the same vein, the one that has been nepotistic should resort to seeing other tribes, ethnic and religious groups as relevant when the issue of appointment comes up. Still in the same vein, the one that relishes in stealing public funds should for once realize that public funds are meant for the common good of the people. Still in the same nexus, the ones that feels the Fulanis should be carrying AK-47 to defend themselves should also not forget that other Nigerians have the rights to equally defend themselves.

It always beat me hollow each time I realize that many politicians do not care about their reputation. In the Christendom, the need for people to be reputable is exemplified in the Bible. For instance, Ecclesiastes chapter 10 verse 1 says “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. In the light of the foregoing scripture, there is no denying the fact that many politicians have spoilt their good works and reputation through their anti-people activities. Be that as it may, given the definition of reputation that “It is the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something”, how does an average Nigerian see a politician? Or simply put, how does an average Nigerian perceive a politician?

There is no denying the fact that an average Nigerian does not see a politician as a truthful, trusted or sincere person. He sees him as an unrepentant liar and schemer. You may say these are not kind superlatives to use in qualifying a politician, but they are the actual words which the masses often use to qualify a politician. The politician may not know this as most of them hardly interact with those they snobbishly refer to as common men.  If millions of Nigerians were asked to define a politician in their own words, they may variously come up with a plethora of definitions that may be considered befitting enough to be entered in any world-circulating dictionary.

Most people may define a politician as “One who promised to build good roads in his constituency if elected into political office but end up junketing from one city to the other by means of air transport without constructing or fixing any road. “A politician is one who promised to build hospitals in his constituency if elected into political office but ended up seeking medical solutions in Germany, India, USA among other medically advanced countries for himself and family members at the expense of public funds.” He is also “the one who promised to build qualitative and affordable institutions of learning if elected into office only to resort to sending his children and close relations to schools in Europe and America.” To others, a politician is “the one that is entitled to a huge amount of money as security vote allowance even when his entire constituency is under the siege of insecurity.”

In the same vein, some see a politician as “the one that often prods his wife to host jamborees called First Ladies meetings and to accept civil service appointment even when his wife is not a career civil servant.  No doubt, a politician is seen from different perspectives by different people. In this part of the world politicians are not bothered about how the people see them.

In Europe and America, politicians are very mindful of their reputation that some of them cannot do without communication experts who are hired to manage their reputation.

In my view, politicians are so important in the society that they should be very mindful of their reputation. No doubt, the conduct of a politician would determine whether he would have a good reputation or bad reputation. For instance, it is very sad for a politician that was once regarded as a man of integrity to suddenly become a man of “integreedy” while holding political office.

Politicians should avoid trouble, controversies, and scandals and serve the people that voted them into various political offices. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched as politicians are very important facilitators of national development, and they are the pivot around which socio-economic and political activities often revolve.

Meanwhile, I am using this medium to encourage our politicians to begin to be mindful of their collective reputation. The reputation of a politician is the barometer which members of his constituency use in knowing how bad or good he is performing. Earning a good reputation is not by throwing money around but it is a function of good conduct.   Politicians should stop exhibiting an I-don’t-care attitude while in power as they would always go back to their constituencies to beg for votes.

Be that as it may, it is exigent for politicians to learn Salient lessons from Ganduje’s Reputational Metamorphosis as he has through a commendable action watered down his “dollarized” reputation that has been trailing him since 2018 like a leech.

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