BY YEMI FETCH

There’s an interesting theory promulgated by the master strategist, Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, “David and Goliath” Gladwell talked about being a big fish in a small pond as against being a small fish in a big pond.

Gladwell’s premise is that in the big pond, one is likely to get easily drowned or eaten by bigger fishes. It’s a place where you get overshadowed or less smart because there are far more brilliant minds therein.

He went further to reveal different techniques that could be adopted by a supposed underdog or misfit to battle sharks in big ponds.

This theory succinctly captures happenings in the Nigerian political arena at the moment. There are so many big names in small ponds and people wonder why politicians in relatively unknown parties can’t come together and put one person forward to battle the giants with money, influence and popularity.

Politicians like Donald Duke, Obi Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Omoyele Sowore are merely big fishes in small ponds and could easily get drowned by bigger names if peradventure they find themselves in the big pond. The fear of being small fishes in a big pond is one of the reasons they chose to remain in small ponds.

Being a big fish in small ponds relates with the unsuspecting power possessed by an underdog to pull a stunt or ‘shake the table’ that has big boys on it. This theory works in business. It works in sports – it worked for Leicester City Football Club three season ago when they unexpectedly clinched the premiership title; but politics is a different ball game.

Gladwell‘s postulations and assertions are not entirely correct when it comes to politics in an ethnically diverse third world country. In a politically complex country like Nigeria, politicians depend on alliances or coalitions to unseat an incumbent. This collaboration requires pulling resources together to build a big competitive pond that is able to match the power, structure and influence of the most popular parties in the land. In politics, you have to find your way into a big pond or build one if you must get the reach you so desire.

The question however is, would you still remain a big fish when you finally decide to move into a big pond? That’s the question that has left many of these politicians stuck with unknown parties.

Of course the late Pa Adedibu was right; politics is first about personal interest, hence the old, rugged saying; “together we achieve more” does not come to play until personal interests are addressed. The national interest is often a combination of all personal interests.

But if these young politicians can temporarily drop their presidential aspirations, take up another role within a big pond, pull their resources together and push one candidate forward, then we can have a formidable party that can stand up to the bullies.

For example, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu spent several years swimming as a big fish in a small ACN pond. He never really got beyond having regional influence, not until ACN merged with other regional parties like ANPP, CPC and others to build a big pond now known as APC. This alliance birthed a national outlook needed to successfully remove the then incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.

In a country with different cultures, religions and ethnic groups, you need more than a regional party to appeal to a national audience. Being a big fish in a small pond does not cut it; so cut the crap! If you can’t join the train, collaborate with other car owners and move as many people as possible to their desired destination.