By John Mayokun Dada, Esq.
Like a gutter talk, I heard an old man told my father when I was young that anyone who desires/desired to know the man who deflowered his/her mother should engage in politics. The summary of what the revered gentle man told my father was that politics is a dirty game. My father ensured that he drummed this into our subconscious minds, in our tender age, and this formed my skeptical attitude to politics while growing up. “Don’t engage in politics, don’t play politics and don’t do politics”, were the words — credited to my father — which escorted me for long till I tried NBA politics in 2018.
To be sincere, I did not see NBA politics as “politics” properly so called then, I just decided to serve; and since I cannot be appointed, I needed to be elected thereby placing me on the floor of constitutionally-required electioneering processes.
2018 NBA Ilorin Branch politics was my first bite at real politics and honestly, it was not a game but a war on its own.
In a bid to start small, I indicated interest to run for the position of Assistant Secretary. I sought and got the consent of all the necessary godfathers whose names I reserve for now. Messages and calls were made to people only for two of my early supporters to talk me out of the position of assistant secretary to vying for the post of the Secretary. I never wanted a contest or struggle with any opponent, so the choice of assistant secretary fitted my mindset at that time; but with the boost from these “strong men”, I made further consultations by crossing the boundaries of religion and place of origin and there came my greatest shock in NBA politics — two people who I still want to reserve their names, at least for now, and who are not ordinarily expected to support me for many reasons, blessed my ambition and gave me their support.
Till today, I did not care if they voted for me or not, they remain my rock in NBA politics, because they did not suspend their professional calling for religious sentiments. For this, they will forever earn my respect.
The race began and my opponents later turned out to be my friends and that was when the war began. How do you win when you are not better than your opponents? what a politics!
Remember, I told you this was my first bite at real politics in my life. And for this, I wanted to withdraw when I discovered my close friend and classmate , Wasiu Adeyi, was also running for the same office and my withdrawal gear was moved to the fore when I got the hint that J.S Muhammed, who — with the grace of God — we began YLF (Young Lawyers’ Forum) together had also joined the race. It was tough for me as I did not know how to beat these men of timber and caliber. They are wonderful people and I have tremendous respect for them.
What a war in politics!
From April to June, 2018, we played politics, not dirty one though. I had nightmares and the closer we were to the election, the stronger my desire to win even in the midst of the concomitant fear of losing the election. At this point, I discovered my strength could not carry me, so I relied heavily on the strength of others to continue. I could not use my wife’s strength, because left for her, she did not want such for me, so I moved into my office and found two giant and vibrant chaps – Yemi and Funmi (as they then were). They complimented my efforts, gave me new tricks and thought me the latest IT(Information Technology) campaign methods, which took me slightly above my opponents. As if my opponents also got support, in a matter of weeks they both met me at the realm of the peak which I thought I had reached to their disadvantage.
I needed more strength but by this time like a failed car carburetor, my fuel was draining and my speed reducing.
At this point, Yemi and Funmi did not stop but we got the match of our strength from Adeyi and J.S. They were formidable men of strength and I salute their courage. I was drowning and relaxing until I thought of Seye Adeboye, a God-sent brother. He skyrocketed my campaign and turned me to Lukman (Let him that readeth understandeth).
Seye was really a blessing at that point and till now. Adding Yemi, Funmi and Seye to my campaign game helped me tremendously; but that only lasted for a while as religious politics, place of origin, political affiliations, negotiations, blackmailing and character assassinations raised their ugly heads at the peak of the campaign and trust became a problem. I was really overwhelmed at this point but it was too late to go back. I resolved within me that I would rather lose than withdraw from the race. And truth be told, my chances were not really bright again. Religion and place of origin had relegated me to the bench like in a football match.
I started asking myself what I was actually looking for and my father’s advice kept coming back like never before. I ran to my boss — Mrs Ronke Adeyemi. she did not support my subtle decision to withdraw from the race at that crucial moment, because that was the moment campaign has left the realm of what you can do to whom you are and where you came from. Wow! I forgot all my selling campaign bullets — as they no longer sell. I tried to throw in the towel, God threw it back and said, “wipe your face with the towel, you are almost there”. What a crossroad I found myself!
Little did I know that I had left God out of my calculation, I was only praying but never believed HE can be part of such a “dirty game” in my father’s word.
Voters list came out and the real politics began, so what we were doing before then was just child’s play.
I called everyone on the voters list, except my opponents. While many voters deceived me, many did not (many voters will deceive you oooo, toor but that is politics properly so called). At this point of not knowing who to trust, I briefed God, I believed it’s never too late to do that at any time in one’s life and I used the voters list to re-strategize with the help of Yemi, Funmi, Seye, John, Akerele, Dayo, Saint, B20, Olateju, Boda Sukanmi and many others. These were people whose votes were not as important to me as their support. You need people like that in politics at times.
At this crucial time, what was important were votes and the most important were votes for JMD as/for NBA Secretary.
We all did our best, we campaigned on merit, despite all the temptations to do otherwise as a result of deception, disloyalty, blackmail, religious bigotry, political blocks and other unnecessary and unspeakable sentiments introduced into NBA politics by people who wanted personal gain above collective interest.
I believe that in elections of these nature, competence and professionalalism should always be the basis of election of people offering themselves for service and not the faith or place of origin of the persons who volunteered to stay behind the wheels. Such will always destroy the fabrics of our common good which is progressive development.
It is a waste of education if the only people we like and are willing to support to lead a professional body are restricted to members of our religion and tribe. That’s in-breeding, which is a major cause of genetic disorder and stunted growth.
The greatest proof of our education is in how we coexist and maximize the opportunities available in our diversity as a people. Associations that (have) maximized growth are really those that value diversity and inclusion.
Posterity looks at everyone in the eyes and events will unfold to reveal the real truth behind all these lies that only divide us.
It was a rough and tough road, but we won.
We won not because I was the best, we won not because my friends were not strong enough, we won not because of any special trait, but because it had pleased God to grant me victory. Glory be to God.
What a journey, what a life, what a game, what a world. Really, do I say (that) I flirted with death? To me, “Politics is not a dirty game, it is only those who are dirty that make it dirty”. My first bite at real politics was not a failure after all, and today I can share this smiling at some of our deeds then and with time it will be clear if what the revered gentleman told my father is an admissible hearsay.
Glory be to God.
John Mayokun Dada is the outgoing secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin Branch. He is also a practising Lawyer, and a Notary Public. You can reach him via his number +234703 5667039 or his email at firstname.lastname@example.org