Categories: ColumnsDuro Onabule

For the goose and the gander?

Barely six months to the 2019 general election, it is understandable that innocent and eager Nigerians are virtually being chocked with political permutations in expectation of electoral victory. Only time can tell how realistic or illusory are these permutations.

However, in certain aspects, the permutation exercise is amusing, and akin to digging a big hole of disaster, covered with a multi-coloured mat on which a majestic throne is placed. The projected crowning of such a king is doubtful despite the massive expenses in the preparation. As kids, we were told that story of how the tortoise misled the elephant for that misadventure.

First, the much touted re-alignment of big names in politics, including those with national standing. There also was the coming together of the highest number of political parties in Nigeria’s history. Expectedly, at least half of these so-called 39 political parties have since disassociated themselves from that prank. It all shows the bastardisation of the otherwise well-indented idea of opening the political terrain to as many political groups as may be eligible to be registered. When the last batch of these new parties was announced, it was obvious to discerning minds that there was no way presidential elections in Nigeria would ever attract 10 or 20 candidates.

Registration of most of these political parties merely existing on paper would always produce what has happened – prostituting for appointments, contracts or national honours with a prospective ruling party.

Nigerians are a funny lot. They are noted for attendance at churches, mosques,
even shrines and, at their most desperate moments, patronising marabouts. In all these, they always acclaim God as the Almighty. But when that God picks the time to perform wonders, these hypocrites ignore such sensation to pursue the deceit projected for them by marabouts and fake pastors and imams.

Almost four years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari took ill and his political rivals, even within his own party, completely “sentenced” him to death. Fake pastors led the way by predicting his death. Trade union leadership openly dared Buhari to speak to Nigerians from abroad to prove that he was alive. Politicians held meetings deliberating on their choice of successor to Buhari.

Since “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform,” so it was with Buhari as he returned from medical treatment, fully recovered. In fact, he looks healthier and fitter today than he was when he contested for the presidency in 2015. Among Nigerians who have died since Buhari recovered are possibly (repeat, possibly) pastors, imams, trade unionists and politicians all along predicting his death.

Why do men and women attend church or mosque, if they do not believe in the supremacy of God or Allah? Who could be more fake and fraudulent than pastors and imams misleading fellow human beings to ignore the wonders of God? These pastors, imams and marabouts are the main source of the purported re-alignment in politics, which induces ambition in their clients. These fake religious hustlers exist in all parts of Nigeria.

Bluntly, there are only about three political parties in Nigeria – APC, PDP and APGA. Half of the leadership of APGA already dissolved into APC, since 2014, and featured substantially in the electoral hurricane of APC for the governorship race (Imo State) without a single senatorial seat. APC was admittedly yet to be known or felt in South- East. The position was hardly better in South-South, except Rivers State, where APC won two senatorial seats.

Therefore, a lot of fun if not naivety is being exhibited in the unfolding political development.

The core aspect is the analogy being drawn between 2014 and 2018. It is ridiculous to conclude that the re-alignment of political forces in 2014 preceded the doom of PDP or the emergence of APC and that the similar imminent defections from APC will also doom the party or at least dislodge Buhari from Aso Rock.

To start with, it will be politically suicidal of APC to unconsciously lose this opportunity to sanitise Nigerian politics. The point was correctly made by the new APC national chairman Adams Oshiomole who described the so-called re-alignment as the acts of mercenaries. After inadvertently showing their colours, it will be suicidal to hold them back. Otherwise, should the defectors win 2019 elections on APC platform, they may still defect to another party and not necessarily PDP. There is nothing the APC can do at that stage.

The APC itself should stop embracing defecting mercenaries in two ways. The party should either not embrace defectors or insist they must resign their seats in national/state assemblies and re-contest on APC platform, in which case, such newly re-elected APC members are unadulterated elected party members of state and national assemblies. As for the PDP, the party should ideally also join in sanitising Nigerian politics by rejecting defectors, especially elected members of state and national assemblies. But in its present state, PDP needs them for its rejuvenation. However, PDP should be prepared that these same mercenaries would defect again from PDP, especially if APC, as seems likely, wins the 2019 presidential election.

Above all, both APC and PDP should consider the standard in the First Republic, when NCNC candidates had to sign undated letter of resignation as members of regional/ federal house of representatives, a sort of good conduct against carpet crossing. It is no coercion. No candidate is forced to sign such undertaking. It is a question of principle.

That is the party’s condition for sponsoring a candidate on its platform and any candidate who cannot subscribe to that condition is free to seek election on the platform of another party prepared to be defrauded by defectors.

For the APC, even candidate Muhammadu Buhari should be prepared such undated undertaking to have resigned any day he defects. He can then seek personal mandate for the presidency on the platform of his new party. If a presidential candidate can be tied to that condition for contesting on the party’s platform, any other party member should be prepared for that discipline. In the First Republic, Professor Chike Obi was an elected member of the House of Representatives on the platform of NCNC/Dynamic Party alliance. When his critical contributions to debates were considered anti-party, his letter of resignation was submitted to the Speaker. Chike Obi returned to Onitsha Central and contested on the platform of his Dynamic Party, got re-elected and returned to the House of Representatives. That was honourable politics.

The situation, which warranted the formation of APC in 2014, was completely different from today’s. Furthermore, there were other factors unavailable today. In 2011, the North, with its overwhelming electoral numbers, was adamant that the presidency must return to that part of the country. That was in protest against alleged breach of agreement by former President Goodluck Jonathan that, after completing the remaining two years of deceased President Umaru Yar’Adua’s only term, he (Jonathan) would contest only one more term of four years ending in 2015. Instead, Jonathan insisted on contesting in 2015.

What is more, all northern PDP governors who defected to join in forming APC were not only outgoing but dared not oppose the demand for the presidency to return to the North. In fact, the governors merely defected to join the APC bandwagon. Out of office, they couldn’t have won any election for the PDP, moreso against Buhari as a candidate.

Today, northerners are not insisting on the presidency as it is already being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari as President of the Federal Republic. He can, therefore, only be re-elected as the most popular candidate from that part of Nigeria. That apart, the two main architects of APC in 2014 were CPC leader Muhammaadu Buhari and ACN leader Bola Tinubu, each carrying with them, impregnable electoral stronghold of entire North waiting for Buhari and entire South-West in Tinubu’s pocket. Without these two, there could never have been APC, with due respect to the minor contributions of others.

Significantly, for 2019, both Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu are strongest in their alliance. The idea of equating the North and South-West of 2014 to the 2018 expected defections is, therefore, naïve and untenable. In 2014, three formidable northerners – Muhammadu Buhari, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Atiku Abubakar, vied for the APC ticket. Buhari not only overwhelming won the nomination but went on to emerge a near-cult hero in the North for the 2015 election. Largely, that support is still solid till today.

However, for the APC (specifically, Buhari) the poor handling of the criminal activities of cattle rearers in Benue, Taraba and Plateau may affect the party’s performance in those areas. Also to be reckoned with are the Atiku Abubakar factor in Adamawa as well as the Saraki factor in Kwara.

All in all, defectors, especially from APC, should be allowed to try their luck in new parties. After discrediting their party’s performance publicly will they, on return, eat their words?


Eventually, Fayose subdued

Was that outgoing Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose reduced to a baby crying publicly the other day lamenting his plight and calling on international community to take note of whatever might happen? In short, Fayose was eventually subdued by superior forces?

That was most unlikely the Ekiti governor known for these past four years (and indeed his two-term tenure). Instead, the real Ayo Fayose, the governor, was know and branded by his admirers as UNBREAKABLE FAYOSE. He boasted it, he exhibited it, he flaunted it, he inflicted it and he succeeded with it.

Whenever Fayose emerged, his opponents vamoosed. Former President Ibrahim Babangida is on record that military officers are trained to dominate their environment. Throughout his eight-year tenure, Ayo Fayose dominated the entire political environment of Ekiti State even though the man, Fayose, was not a trained military officer. Ekitis must have been lucky for that since the story might have been different.

Wise ones either conceded or abandoned

Ekitiland to Fayose, who not only reigned but also ruled. Thanks partly to the generalissimo of Fayose’s political machine, Lere Odeyinka, who entertained with his pungent, circumstantial, even if mostly irritating political sermons to somehow evangelise the boss. Whatever happened to Lere these trying moments.

Fayose in tears? So what? Only he tasted his “experience.” Times have changed. On the eve of Ekiti governorship election? Four years ago, Fayose returned to power somewhat triumphally and proved irresistible or the stubborn ones disappeared to anywhere but Ekitiland. Till now or for everlasting future. For tomorrow’s election, it is do or die for Fayose.

Give the devil his due. In Fayose’s case, his distinction. Rarely does a state governor in Nigeria allow his deputy to even aspire to succeed the boss. The deputy governor would rather be impeached in the process. Such is currently going on in Imo State. But Fayose is incarnating himself in his deputy as PDP’s candidate in tomorrow’s governorship election in the state.

If, therefore, Fayose could break down in tears 72 hours to the election, could that indicate how much he (Fayose) stands to lose if his deputy, the candidate, is defeated? Ironically, for the election, Fayose shines more than the candidate of his party.

As for Kayode Fayemi, the former governor seeking a return to power in tomorrow’s election, ordinarily, he could be dismissed because “they never come back.” But Fayose disproved that electoral pessimism by returning to power after a four-year break. Otherwise, Fayemi in defeat has more to lose than Fayose’s political extinction.

On the other hand, Fayose in defeat will be greatly missed. In his separated two-term tenure (gapped by four years of political oblivion), Fayose took on the mighty two – former President Olusegun Obasanjo and current President Muhammadu Buhari. Only Fayose could have mustered such verbal combat.

Successfully? That is for future argumentation.

Tokunbo David :Sun News Online team writer and news editor

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