I want to begin this very important discourse from the lighter side. I love the title of this piece which I claim no patent over. It has huge probability to make one laugh, broom in action. Truly, the broom as inanimate as it is undertakes diverse functions in human affairs, leaving behind also varied consequences. It is a multi-purpose instrument. It serves both good and negative purposes . It can clean an environment as well as make it dirtier. It can sweep away valuables kept in the most precious of places. Friends tell me it is a very useful tool in school of witchcraft. This last point is beyond my comprehension, but I do know the broom is the symbol of the ruling party in our country, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and in the last two weeks the party has deployed the broom in the most uncanny manner sweeping both dirt and valuables away. For members the fear of the broom is the beginning of wisdom.
Following high fractious disputations, many of them contrived to gain vantage positions in the power equation within and beyond the party, the President, Muhammadu Buhari after months of lukewarm attitude finally entered the arena carrying the broom. By the time he was through with the initial cleaning job, many casualties had been registered. The party’s national working committee was dissolved and a caretaker committee to manage the affairs of the party constituted and given mandate to organize a national convention within six months.
Since that development took place, up to the moment you are reading this piece, the matter has remained a front-burner issue and promises to stay so for a long time as a result of the calibre the casualties recorded, the nature of the step taken, its significance for the contending blocks within the party and more importantly the implications for democratic practice in our country. Besides, it is very vital that citizens keep vigilance over activities of the political class because that is the only way to assure ourselves their activities are in our general interest as Albert Einstein rightly noted, “Societies are not destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Many have spoken and written on this matter but one noticeable ugly trend is that most spoke tongue-in-cheek, positions covered in ambivalence, a lot were simply partisan and others full of fear. Adams Oshiomole, who was the national chairman of APC until the sweeping took place simply surrendered. This latest posture was at variance with his swagger while still in power. He deserved to fall but ought to have fallen alone, given that the executive position he occupied was an elective one with a tenure under democratic dispensation. What is more, most of the conflicts were clearly contrived just to give semblance of disorderliness with a view to undermine and topple the existing status quo.
Someone asked whether Oshiomole’s sack included his membership since his troubles took a different turn with the suspension of his membership by his ward. Everyone present had no answer. The man who went to court to ask to be moved from Deputy Secretary to national chairman is from Rivers State and former commissioner for works under Rotimi Amaechi, current Minister of Transport.
The funny aspect to all of this is that courts including the Appeal Court granted the request on the basis that Victor Giadom was able to convene a National Executive Council meeting which the President found fit to attend. Another man instituted another case in Jos, Plateau State, all these in spite of a party regulation which prohibits resort to litigation on party matters and prescribes expulsion for any member who toes that line. As you read this none has been sanctioned for going to court, all we have heard is, if you went to court withdraw the matter. As already said, Oshiomole deserves to go and the first step towards his final removal should have been a suspension. The reason being that he was elected to solve problems, but he chose to become the problem himself. His ability to constructively engage was hampered by the drive to lift a block and position them well ahead of 2023 presidential election. His dance constrained his effectiveness, his attitude to Edo poll gave him out and turned out to be his albatross.
The National Working Committee ought not to have been dissolved if issues in public domain are the only ones. As noted earlier issues in contention are not substantive enough, so what was required, if intentions were altruistic, would have been political solutions, outcomes of wide and constructive consultations, but because motives weren’t pure simple matters were left to fester and assume features of critical crisis, to create ideal atmosphere for weird application of the broom and that was what we have witnessed. One man no matter how highly placed should not hold the answers to party issues else what will remain could be anything but political party. Parties everywhere in the world are aggregation of diverse interests. At any given time aspirations and tendencies compete and collide, in some cases throwing up conflicts. You don’t solve such disagreements by fiat, you do by constructive engagement, dialogue, compromise, consensus and agreement. Party matters should be held at the secretariat or elsewhere not in the State House. Some talk of law, and the question becomes, must every conduct be in law books before they can be seen as desirable?
Every aspect of human conduct need not be about law before they can constitute standard, decent and acceptable ways of behaviour or necessary for conduct of public affairs. Political partisanship and art of governance should stand different. America’s Chief of the Joint Staff stood with President Donald Trump as he issued political directives, then this military chief returned to his office and gathered reporters to apologise to the nation for being at the right place but at wrong time. Which law prescribes that a crime? Just sense of decency. President Buhari gave a northerner the chairmanship of the caretaker committee, this act is highly suggestive of dominance by a block, even the talk of dissolving elected executives at all levels reinforces the view that some power blocks have had their wings clipped.
Bola Tinubu who made the largest contribution to the APC mix has said he is okay with the development but the fact he denied presidential ambition which is common knowledge is indicative of how shocked he is and the difficult times ahead of the party. He is national leader but he got no invitation to the meeting. The party members may not be able to face what has and will come against them in coming weeks, but for the larger population it shouldn’t be the case. The citizens must not only be alert, they have in place capacity to resist any anti-democratic tendencies that could take root from the whole this drama. After all there are numerous examples where from democracy, countries went into dictatorship, in fact in most cases it began exactly this way, dismantling party organs by fiat and strange people coming up with hidden agenda. Already, some have come up calling for postponement of elections scheduled for Edo and Ondo. They hide under COVID-19, yet Burundi, Malawi, Poland and New Zealand just had elections. This is what you get when our leaders subvert democratic process and replace them with impunity. It shouldn’t happen here.