Throughout the history of man, there have always been times when mighty men with control over the affairs of others called themselves together to divide their catch or spoil among themselves. Such controls are not peacefully reached. In fact, often times, it is as a result of conquest, such as the case of Africa where Like in the era of Otto Von Bismarck, those who believe they have legitimate claims to the heart of Africa scrambled for her soul which led to the successful partitioning of Africa among the Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Portugal, France,etc, with each of them laying legitimate claim to the right to milk-dry the land.
Nigeria fell under the British catch and became a colony of the overlord which quickly trained a few locals to assist in the administration of the colony. One of the earliest careers to spring up among the locals is the Army which has today produced the oligarchs who are the subject matter of this article. To be the President of Nigeria, you must be anointed by the Colonial overlord, be a reincarnated democrat, that is, a retired military oligarch or a candidate adopted by them. In a way, Nigeria Democracy is inseparable from the military.
Nigeria is a typical case of the man on the horse back, with Nigeria being the horse and the man on it being a warlord or the anointed candidate of the warlords and the overlord. In fact, from the table above, between 1963 and 2022, the Presidents have been them, made by them or removed by them. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo understood this inseparability in the build up to the 1999 Presidential election when he described himself as the only candidate capable of providing a bridge between military and civilian rule. These oligarchs are retired Generals and the most distinguished surviving warlords who played key roles in the Nigerian Civil War of 1967. They are: Murtala Muhammed (late), Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar, Muhammadu Buhari, Theophilus Danjuma, and Sanni Abacha (late).
These oligarchs can be further differentiated as progressive oligarchs, property oligarchs and freak oligarchs. Whatever form of oligarchy, they have a few things in common: Firstly, the interests of thenoligarchs are paramount. In an oligarchy, the government is controlled by a faction that acts in its own interest to the exclusion of the people in government. Secondly, in Nigeria, these oligarchs do not investigate their predecessors no matter how terrible.
The context in which Landlords is used here simply connotes civilians who have firm grasps of grassroots, politics, wealth, socio-psychology of man, and wield considerable magnitude of authority and influence over a large political territory. There is little or no contest about their Lordships over their domains. In their spaces, they are principalities and powers with political accuracies and capacities to pacify environmental spirits to fall in line. They are dynamic and quasi-omnipotent. They are kings and kingmakers. They are punishers and saviors. They own lands, media, judicial system, financial institutions, control markets and the operators; they drive states and own the aristocrats within it. In fact, they are the authoritative allocators of values mirrored by David Easton.
Virtually all the 36 Governors in Nigeria qualify to be called a landlord, especially, frolicking Governors, that is, Governors who were Senators before or after becoming a Governor for two solid tenures. Another category of Landlords are the Governors who have the capacity to midwive and foster the ascendancy of a successor. Also, a Governor Landlord has capacity to engage the Federal Government in a brawl and not kowtow. Perhaps the greatest of these Landlords, are those who have the capacity to determine who becomes what from another state, be it far or near. Notable in Nigeria today apart from the incumbent Governors are the likes of Bola Ahmmed Tinubu, Nyesom Wike, Nasir El Ruffai, Kashim Shettima, Babagana Umara Zulum, Abdullai Umar Ganduje among many others. However as powerful as these landlords are, they do not control the forces e.g the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. They do not also have full control over the police and that makes them subservient to the overlord and the warlords.
A careful analysis of the forthcoming Presidential election has revealed how the conquerors of state powers are willing to push -with all their amassed wealth and influence – for national relevance far beyond the roadmaps of the oligarchy. The 2023 election is going to be a new dawn of radical political shift occasioning a redirection of wealth and hegemony. It is going to be a battle in which the underdog democratic Landlords are going to be fighting to have a slice of the Nigerian soul, while the oligarchs are going to consolidate on the status quo. Either way, Nigerians loose.