By Michael West
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced the 2019 time-table for elections, political activities are gradually gathering momentum, quietly though. There has been increased communication among top political gladiators across the geo-political zones as well as the political parties. Nocturnal meetings are already returning. Reconciliation of sworn enemies in the political arena is on-going, too. Possible alignment and realignment of political interests and forces are being discussed. Apparently, the early announcement of the election time-table may be a strategy to divert attention of politics-inclined critics from the daily lampooning of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The increasing trend of carpet-crossing into the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, from other parties is, however, worrisome. Reason: it further reaffirms that our politicians lack the rudiments of political party culture, loyalty, and discipline. Internal wrangling and conflict of interests are parts of politicking. Jumping the ship into another, except for reasons very fundamental and genuinely in the overall interest of the people, is an act of political harlotry. It amazes me when, on flimsy excuses, a man, voted into political office on trust by his people, cheaply abandons the platform for selfish purposes without recourse to the feelings and opinions of his people back home. Some are of the opinion, though, that this is part of the realignment process.
During the electioneering campaign in the United States last year, prominent figures in the Republican Party openly disclaimed Donald J. Trump over his divisive and hate speeches at campaign grounds. Even McCain, a major sponsor and former presidential hopeful of the Republican, rejected Trump over same reason. Yet, none of them decamped to the Democratic Party. It is a case of you don’t have to cut your nose to spite your face. Today in America, the Republican Party is busy strategizing beyond the tenure of Trump. Had it been it happened in our clime, by now, despite the protests and outcry that welcomed Trump’s administration, Democratic Party leaders at various levels would have flooded the Republican Party, calling their original platform all sorts of despicable names. We can see this happening on a daily basis here now.
The manner and approach to fighting corruption by this administration seems to further encourage this trend. Democratic nuances and processes are deepened with strong opposition in place. This is necessary for checks and balances as well as offering the electorate an alternative platform for good governance. But, since the anti-graft and security agencies were let loose on the suspects of sleazy funds, the suspects’ public images have been vilified, privacy encroached upon, bank accounts interdicted at will and suspects or targets are incarcerated in prison custody while investigations that ought to have preceded their arrest or detention would then continue, if not begin afresh.
To avoid this hellish experience, the smart ones begin to throw off their ‘umbrella’ or chase away the ‘rooster’ or whatever it is that is the symbol of their original party, to gleefully embrace the ‘broom.’ This inexpedient anti-party activity continues to thrive because the searchlight keeps beaming only on those on the other side: the opposition party. Some folks have argued that the ‘persecution’ (or prosecution) of the likes of the Senate President Bukola Saraki is also in line with the “no sacred cow” cliché in the assumed fight against corruption. Like Dele Momodu rightly observed when Saraki’s trial began, had Saraki not circumvented the party arrangement for the National Assembly leadership structure, will he be standing trial in the court of law over alleged discrepancies in his asset declaration form? The answer, of course, is NO! Eight to nine out of 10 former public office holders in the Senate have similar issues with their respective assets declaration. So, it is not right to say Saraki’s case is in the league of Olisa Metuh, Sambo Dasuki, or Alex Badeh etc. He’s being punished for his political ‘offence’; therefore, it has nothing to do with the war against corruption.
In order to avoid public ignominy through media trial and sentencing on the pages of newspapers, some politicians think it is safer to join the protective camp of the ruling party than risk the harassment. The torrential manner in which politicians in the South East are crossing over to the ruling party speaks volume of the political despondency ravaging the psyche of these Nigerians. I am sure most of them did not have the support of their people in their political (mis)adventure. South Easterners are lauded for being resolute as expressed in their voting pattern in the last general election. Without rooting for any particular party here, I am just concerned that the beauty of our democracy like having a strong opposition platform and regional political integration, are being frittered, prostituted, and abused.
It is open secret that all is not well with the rank and file of the ruling APC as political activities towards the 2019 general elections are gradually taking shape. The determinant factor that will shape the future or survival of the APC in 2019 and beyond is President Muhammadu Buhari. If Buhari ventures to run, then, the game is over for the party! I doubt if the party will retain up to 10 governorship seats at the end of the day. If you ask me, I think Buhari should not run, at least, in the interest of his party. Let me acknowledge here that Buhari is not a typical Nigerian politician. He is too straight to bend for anybody and for any reason; not even his alliance with Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu that facilitated his victory was strong enough to make him shift ground. Like he would always say, “there could be contact without contamination”, and that is how he had smartly played the game with Asiwaju. The rest, as they say, is history.
This administration would readily come to mind as the first in history to spare just three slots for the entire southern part of the country in the top security positions, while the north comfortably cornered 14 out of 17. Like no other before it, lopsided political appointments were brazenly done! Even those who invested their resources into electioneering campaigns that brought this party to power are now in penury; many of them were hoping that board appointments would be a compensation for their loyalty, but almost two years after, like the masked singer, Lagbaja, would sing, “Nothing for you”. Blurred economic vision for the country has earned the people hunger. The naira’s steady decline, until the Central Bank of Nigeria’s recent intervention, was appalling. These, to mention but a few among the several shortcomings of this administration, will not help the APC, should Buhari run again.
Listening to sycophants and ‘yes sir’ people and remaining rigid in his approach to party affairs won’t help both Buhari and APC at all. Can Buhari be so sure that Tinubu, Atiku, Saraki and even other minority stakeholders in the APC project would support his second-term reelection in 2019? Those who contributed the blocks with which the APC structure was molded are almost on their way out with their respective blocks. By the time these people quit the party, in addition to those that would still leave; I wonder how a feeble APC can withstand electoral contest with reinvented, revitalized and fortified political parties that would soon emerge on the horizon. It will be inglorious for the APC to lose power to the PDP in 2019.
• Michael West, a Media Consultant, writes via [email protected]