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By Toyin Falola


Rule 1: Thou shall not be poor. Poverty is anathema in Nigerian politics. You need money. Lots of it. If you can print it, the better for you. Your health issues are profitable but wait till you have been sworn in. You can fly in and out with their money at any time. Park the plane and let Nigerians pay the rent.


Rule 2: Thou shall be ambitious. Ambition is the secret to success in politics. You must be addicted to your ambition. Dream big, big enough to make you lose focus on your main mission. Remember, nobody wants to hear the truth again; tell them as many lies as possible. It sells faster in their ears. You know your followers are praying to be like you—the philosophy of turn-by-turn creates truckloads of admirers.


Rule 3: Thou shall have a rigging plan. Politicians drift to the party with the machinery to rig elections. You need just one best friend before the election, the INEC chairman. Divide your expenses into two: money to rig the election; and, since someone will most likely take you to court, the money to rig the judgement.

Rule 4: Thou shall sharpen and trigger your tribal roots and spice your federal character’s pepper soup. Are you not Fulani or Yoruba, or Igbo? If so, do the arithmetic of tribal representation. If you are Yoruba, don’t allow them to include OBJ as his mother is Igbo. If you are Tiv, don’t listen to the Igbo when they say they have not produced a president: they forget Ironsi.


Rule 5: Thou shall rent a crowd. There are rental companies. Call Super-Cop, Abba Kyari, for consultation and services. Give them a customized bag of rice with a thousand naira to buy soup ingredients. They will praise you forever. And thou shall have branded egunjes (bags of rice, bottles of vegetable oil, kola nuts, etc.) for the market women, area boys and the traditional chiefs). Call it palliative, but remember to open the warehouses a week before the elections



Rule 6: Thou shall mobilize your thugs. Don’t worry about what happens after the elections. They can make a good living as bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists. But remember to teach them the Fela song of 1977, “Sorrow, Tears & Blood.”


Rule 7: Thou shall set money aside for election tribunals and judges. Keep Ghana Must Go bags at home for naira or a briefcase for $ dollars, Euros and pounds. Thou shall check if they accept Rubbles.


Rule 8: Thou shall honor and respect your terrestrial and spiritual lords. Spiritual fortifications are mandatory. Sacrifice blood, preferably that of your closest relations. Put pastors or Imams or the Traditional rulers on your payrolls. Give them new SUVs (Nigerians call them jeeps). A month before the elections, attend several church programs and services at various mosques; they will call you to campaign before the benediction.


Rule 9: Thou shall be famous and popular to get 25 percent in two-thirds of presidency, governorship, local government or respective legislative positions. You can get cheap promotions from Fuji music, and Hip Hop with praise songs patented to you. It must be good enough to make it to night joints, drinking places, and ceremonies. Remember the lines and choruses: Your God is bigger than their Gods! Your wallet is bigger. Your stomach is bigger. Your wives and mistresses are more. You know the cities of the world: Dubai, Chicago, London, New York, Paris.


Rule 10: Thou shall be officially young and active. Get a good special legal adviser on reincarnation to help you cook your birth certificate to enable you to graduate from primary school before you were born. Jug in public, walk fast with your two policemen running after you. Let them see your little mistresses, the dark skin in the kitchen and the over-bleached “pepper yoyo” by your side. Eat agbado and boli by the roadside. Ensure your social media handle recorded and shared the videos.


Rule 11. Thou shall have a good killer instinct against your opponents. Negative campaigns and fake news are more effective than facts. Establish your newspapers and television stations, or let your friends assist you. Spread lies about others and praise yourself.


Rule 12: Thou shall remember that politics is a do or die game. It is not an Olympic game. It is not enough to take part. It is a must-win business. Thou must win, and thou must steal money to spend on the next elections.




*Prof Falola is University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Humanities Chair at The University of Texas at Austin and a Special columnist for He is the author of recently published book Understanding Modern Nigeria. 



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