Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says politics is not and can never be a game.
He said this on Thursday while speaking at the Daily Trust dialogue.
Represented by Wale Edun, chairman, board of trustees (BoT) of the Hydro-Carbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) in Ogoniland, Rivers state, Tinubu recounted his conversation on politics with a young boy.
Tinubu quoted the boy to have compared politics to a football game, and that “the only difference was victory in sports was measured by goals scored while in politics it was defined by votes gained”.
In his afterthought on his conversation, Tinubu said the mindset is incorrect and has “misshaped our politics and injured the nation in ways mundane and profound”.
“Too many of us for too long have treated politics as a game open only to an elite, exclusive club of players. The nation and the people constituted the pitch upon which the game would be decided,” Tinubu said.
“Approaching nearly 60 years of independence, Nigeria remains a complex yet incomplete work of art, a project as much on the drawing board as it is our daily reality.
“For too many, Nigeria itself is a game. They are not wedded to the idea and ideals of Nigeria as a diverse and democratic but unified nation. They see the nation not as an object of loyalty but as the most available platform to realise their personal aims.
“In their minds, Nigeria is lesser than their ever-expanding ambitions. Because they view Nigeria as a game, their politics is but a game within a game.
“Politics determines governance and governance defines the life we lead.
“Thus, politics can never be a game. It is a link in that vital process that spins either toward progress or toward the accumulation of problems and their dire consequences.”
According to Tinubu, governance, the aftermath of politics is more vital, as it “determines how we shall live.”
He explained that it was not enough to win an election, but for the winner to assume the “sobering burden” of governance.
“Instead of being a joyous nation, we have become a cruel playground where the fears and concerns of the average person get exploited but their interests never get promoted,” he said.
“While democratic politics inherently bear aspects of competition and contest, it must never be reduced to a mere game.
“The objective of a game is served by the mere playing of it. Playing the game is an end in and of itself. However, this cannot be the case with politics and elections. Winning the political contest can never be an end in itself.
“The proper outcome of electoral victory is not for the victor to revel at his good fortune or his skill in electioneering. The inevitable sequel to an election is for the winner to assume the sobering burden of governance.
“Elections are not the climax of an epic book. They are merely the close of the book’s opening chapter.
“What comes afterwards – governance — is much more vital than politics, for governance determines how we shall live.
“In this regard, 2015 was a watershed year. People jettisoned the political game as usual. They rejected worn political affiliations and superficial loyalties for a chance at substantive change.
“The people realised the political game had theretofore been played against rather than for them.”