I think it is prejudicial and restrictive to trace the beginning of politics of belly to only Mr. Fayose alone. The concept renamed “stomach infrastructure” has been part and parcel of Nigeria’s polity from the first republic and has only evolved in name and practice in present times.
Politics of belly simply means when politicians provide basic necessities of life such as food, cash or relieve materials to her impoverished masses, which may directly or indirectly induce them to vote or make them a cult hero among their contemporaries.
They live among us, some of them are celebrated figures and some of them are dead but the totem have been consciously or unconsciously handed over to the present ones. Without much ado, I present four major politicians that practice “Politics of the Belly”.
Olusola Saraki: The deceased father of the present Senate President, Bukola Saraki successfully controls Kwara state for many years. From providing surplus food for the impoverished masses every Friday, to regular doling out of cash to the masses and rendering favours to those that seek from him. His magnanimous acts further endeared him in the hearts of people of Kwara such that his will prevails on every facet of the state. He singlehandedly determine the governor of the state, which politicians get any elective post, He decide who represent the state at national level, His political enemies are regarded as enemies of the state and most importantly his children rules the state even after his demise.
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Lamidi Adedibu: The strong man of Ibadan politics and known for his “Amala and Gbegiri Politics” held the politics of Ibadan by the jugular. Adedibu like Saraki of Kwara held forth the politics of Ibadan with ruthless vigour. He regularly provide food to impoverished folks that visit his abode, collect his share of the state fund from the government, provide favours for those that seek for it, determines who gets any elective posts and in the eyes of the Oyo people, Adedibu can never do wrong such that when he died, it was reported that Adedibu’s Shoe is too big for anybody to fill. This demonstrates the immense contribution that the strongman of Ibadan “belly” politics has made.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu: The Jagaban himself represent modern version of the Saraki’s and the Adedibu’s. Bola Tinubu is a well known philanthropist, an astute change proponent and a man credited to have made history is changing the political landscape of Nigeria. The Lion of Bourdillion is popularly known to be a cheerful givers to the needy (as well as politicians) in food, cash and in kind, he determines the politics of Lagos, he changed the national politics by booting out PDP’s umbrella and replacing it with the “Broom” and regular visitors to his Bourdillion abode attest the party mode atmosphere of his residence with stomachs fed on a regular basis. His cheerful demeanour has ascribed him a “cult hero” status in our society.
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Ayodele Fayose: The controversial governor himself rode on his “Stomach Infrastructure” campaign theme to sweep away the Fayemi administration in Ekiti state. The Ekiti state governor has since then not relented in mind- provoking philanthropic gestures such as giving of rice, chickens and cash to his people and he also gives out contracts to the impoverished peoples in the state. His Stomach infrastructure programme is well funded in Ekiti state Budget and the state government website has a section on stomach infrastructures activities of his government. Hate him or Love Him, Governor Fayose knows where the shoe pinches and he is the “man of his people”.
Written by: Dosunmu Moshood
Twitter handle: @msdoes