The depth of Yoruba language as shown in its aphorisms laced with ancient but always relevant wisdom will not cease to amaze any proficient speaker of the language. In this piece, I am not out to celebrate the flowers of the language, the beauty of its rendition or the bottomless depth of its wisdom. I only intend to examine a recent national development that proves the soundness of the Yoruba proverb that talks of the proverbial wise-after-the-event dog that only learnt to stow the knife after its ear was amputated. A t’ehin ra ogbon, a g’eti aja, won ge leti tan, o lo n fi obe pamo. This is the exact case of the almighty All Progressives Congress (APC) as it emerged from a national meeting on Tuesday and announced the dissolution of all executive offices within the party from the national to the ward levels. It immediately constituted them into caretaker committees in order to achieve restructuring the party to make way for virility and dynamism. I immediately remembered the event that in 2018 led to the National Convention in which Adams Oshiomhole emerged the National Chairman of the party.
Prior to this Convention, I had been serving as the National Legal Adviser of the different parties since 2010. While there were agitations by some pseudo progressives, masquerading as imperial crusaders of democracy, that a new convention should be organized where a new leadership would emerge, some of us were of the opinion that the best option was to turn the existing executives into caretaker committees until after the general elections. The basis of this opinion was that general elections were moving close by in 2019 and organizing a new convention and congresses to elect new leaders would only factionalize the party which might affect its fortunes in the general elections. Not pandering to frivolity or recognition by those who felt they should own the party in absolute terms, I prepared and presented a legal opinion at the National Executive Committee meeting of the party which held in April, 2019 where I counselled that the Constitution of APC and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria supported constituting existing offices of the party into caretaker committees. I made reference to the Constitution of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which, in all material particulars, is not so much different from the APC Constitution. I backed up this opinion with the decision of the Supreme Court in PDP v. Sherrif  15 NWLR (Pt. 1588) 219 @ 279 paras C – E interpreting a similar provision in the PDP Constitution and which upheld the lawfulness and validity of running the party through caretaker committees where it was not advisable to immediately hold party elections to elect new leaders.
A limping and self-serving opinion was presented by another funny group which only did violence to the provisions of the Constitution of APC and the Constitution of Nigeria. The advocates of a new Convention pretended to be the only surviving relations of democracy which others were not. At the end of the day, this issue was put to vote twice. The pseudo democrats lost twice humiliatingly. They resorted to a series of both costly and cheap blackmail adroitly mixed. They accused us of attempts to achieve tenure elongation for ourselves. Their pen-pushers, controlling the ace of journalism in Nigeria, deployed all manners of gutter language and toilet adjectives to describe our position insisting we were enemies of democracy. They chose to forget that the decision to dissolve the existing executives into caretaker committees was democratically arrived at. They manipulated the President, Muhammadu Buhari, in a private closed-door meeting with him to accept their insistence on holding a Convention for the purpose of change of guard to suit their agenda of taking over the leadership of the party by all means available.
They foisted the party’s success in the then on-coming 2019 elections on their wisdom of running the party. The President, not taking our wise counsel, succumbed to their blackmail against the democratic decision of the party and insisted on a new convention and congresses. Pronto! The Convention of the party, characterized by lots of horse-trading and manipulations, was held on the 22nd and 23rd of June, 2018 and an array of new leaders emerged. Those who were dissatisfied with the outcome of the Convention of the party became angry and a fresh wave of agitations and decamping began. It was in the broil of this crisis that the party approached its primary elections to nominate candidates for the 2019 general elections. With an imperial majesty of a National Chairman at the helms of affairs, primary elections were held by dictators where imposition of candidates and allegations of bribery and sale of party tickets like venal offices in the 16th Century Spain rent the air. The supreme leaders of the party were in their best bib and tucker as they navigated across the country in sirens and pomp characterized of pirates who had just earned their knighthoods. I chose to watch from the sidelines, immersing myself in my legal practice knowing that the consequence was going to be disastrous. Alas! Crises of indescribable magnitude enveloped the party and a gale of losses in States where our fortunes were high and promising tore the party’s pride. In a flash, Rivers State’s primaries of APC were nullified by the Supreme Court. Thank God none of us in the previous executives of the party was a Justice of the Supreme Court. We would have earned the blame for the loss of the case. Zamfara followed in quick succession with the entire elective offices going to the opposition. APC became a serial loser and the once impressive fortunes of the party were floundering on the sea of indiscretion. As if that was not enough, the party was embroiled in Lord of the Rings kind of intrigues, brickbats and denunciations.
The arrogance and self-imposing nature of the National Chairman tore the party in Edo State into shreds and PDP clinched the governorship with our best candidate taking their robe. In less than two years, the party, APC, became so impotent that it was not able to organize and hold an ordinary National Executive Committee meeting and the monarch holding its top office ruled with maximum decrees. Having the full backing of imperial majesties who nominated him into office, a child that has a father like Abraham in heaven can never contemplate being a candidate for hell. A number of people remembered my warnings but it was too late: a tehin r’ogbon, a keti aja…. The President woke up! In conjunction with the NEC members, he dissolved, in a flash, the executives of the party and directed the composition of caretaker committees. The Constitution of the party, without any amendment, suddenly became a supporter of caretaker committees. The Constitution of Nigeria that they earlier relied on against caretaker committees gave way and allowed same. The Prince of Hubris from Edo State bit the dust. He could not be saved by his Abrahamic parents from a doom in utter damnation of the blazing hell of disgrace. Mai Mala Buni, the Governor of Yobe State, became the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party. His tenure edged to a six-month close and on Tuesday, the 8th day of December, 2020, all executive positions of the party, from the national to the ward levels, were dissolved and caretaker committees were composed. The champions of democracy have lost their voices.
Their pen-pushers have gone hibernating. No one to defend their type of democracy that was designed to ruin the party. And here we are. The former Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, sat in his corner sipping Tetley tea and snacking his croissants. Where is Banire with his stormy criticism of their antics? He probably is somewhere burying himself in law reports, preparing for his regular days in court and will not be bothered. A tehin r’ogbon, a keti aja…. It is a pity that those who supported their shenanigans are hiding their tails in between their legs now not learning anything from their errors. He who the gods would kill they first make mad. He who fails to listen to wise counsel is destined to travel the road of perdition. No one goes into self-immolation while preparing for war with others. You don’t make your house a war zone, factionalize your brothers while a battle with foreign enemies lurk around the corner. You don’t create room for dissension within your household knowing that unity alone can make you triumph. We warned! They never listened. Eni a wi fun, Oba je ko gbo. Tell me. What has changed in the Constitution of APC that has made the use of caretaker committee a saving grace now? What has happened to the conscience of their brash adulations and ululations? The painful part of it is that all these setbacks the party has gone through were avoidable but for their selfish motives, they would rather have their way and point others to the highway.
Now their masquerade has strayed onto the highway. The arrogant tortoise said he would not return on his journey until he was disgraced. I commend Mr. President for waking up at all and taking the bold step of righting the wrongs notwithstanding his lateness. Perpetuating error would have amounted to nothing but extreme madness drugged by persistent consumption of opium.
It is imperative now to develop sound strategies for revamping the lost glories and fortunes of the party. The new registration exercise of the party should be made transparent and free from manipulations otherwise the registers would be loaded with non-existent members in order to give a façade of absent strength in areas controlled by political merchants and masters of forgery. Above all, the President should use the remainder of his term to promote internal democracy within the party, endeavour to engender good governance, restore peace and security in the nation, bring economic prosperity which is a major means of stemming the tide of crimes in the land. The agitations across the nation for good governance only means that the party has not really fared better than its whipping boy, PDP, by whose failure APC rose to prominence and assumed leadership in the country. The President should listen to wise counsel and take prudent decisions on time. He should not wait until the spark has become a conflagration before he deploys water hoses to save the burning treasures. It is only this that can guarantee democratic sustenance and success for the party. In the language of the soro soke generation, “I move….”