It must have been the worst week in the history of Nigeria’s ruling party – All Progressives Congress. In contrast to the shining electoral victory of the party since 2015, the lot of the party in the recent past has been more of recession, indeed, disaster.
The Supreme Court nullified the victories of all the party’s candidates – governor, state and National Assembly members – in Zamfara State on the ground that no primary elections to select candidates, as imperative under the Electoral Act, ever validly held. There were calls for the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. The same national chairman of the party, Oshiomhole, for whatever reason(s), was removed from a queue of dignitaries awaiting the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari at Eagle Square, Abuja, for his inauguration for the second term. Ex-governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State was reportedly expelled from the party, ostensibly, for being responsible for the party’s electoral disaster in the 2019 elections in the state. All more like a free-fall.
It all started like a self-inflicted national chairman Adams Oshiomhole – deputy national chairman Lawal Shuaibu showdown, only to deteriorate to an intra-party seeming self-destruction, arising from mutual hostility.
Otherwise, the much-flaunted continuity in governance is more compelling in a political party. What is more, in such a democratic setting, occasional change in leadership is inevitable except that only in rare or lucky situations such are not followed by bitter recriminations like one side aiming for some kind of “I told you” arrogance. There is no doubt that the foundation for the on-going APC setback from the 2019 elections was laid in the party’s landslide victory in 2015. Unseating incumbent president and many governors at various states?
There was no way the APC could have retained its stranglehold 2015 victory. Accordingly, even if unconsciously, the party would be complacent, arrogant, divided over spoils of victory, careless, power-drunk, over-confident and daring. Inevitably, indiscipline and free for all would, and indeed set in. Inordinate ambition, power hunger in enhancement of rivalry prospects in the individual plot to succeed Buhari in 2023 (as the plot collapsed for the 2019 election) induced indiscipline among members. In that stormy situation, the party would be on a tight-rope under whoever was the national chairman. Should the ambitious non-conformists be firmly dealt with and expelled or should they be pampered and allowed to rock the party? Some kind of an uneasy decision, which, in reality, is indecision.
Hence, the demand for the resignation or at least, as it turned out, the replacement of John Odigie-Oyegun as the pioneer national chairman of APC, without counting the cost. If Oyegun was slow and indecisive, the new party chairman was populist and intemperate. The choice was stark. Within a short time, concerned party members, especially some state governors, could not contain their disapproval. Matters were not helped with increased disputes in more state branches, leading to the primaries for the 2019 elections. A policy of fight to finish. Much as party disputes predate Oshiomhole’s national leadership of the party, the fact remains that the primary elections featured inconsistency and double standard from one state to another, costing the party electorally. Mostly affected were Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Zamfara, Bauchi, etc, depending on what favour a state governor enjoyed at the party’s national headquarters.
Inevitably, the party suffered defeats largely from protest votes. On the other hand, if the party were to be honest with itself, the criminal acts of herdsmen cost the APC in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, and Adamawa. Neither Oyegun nor Oshiomhole could or should, therefore, be blamed for such setback.
Supreme Court’s sacking of APC’s governor, elected members of state and National Assembly from Zamfara should have been expected in the light of disputes, which featured in the 2019 primaries in that state. Any difference between Zamfara 2019 and 2007 PDP dispute in Rivers State, which eventually returned Chibuike Amaechi as the duly elected governor even though he did not contest the election? Any difference between Zamfara 2019 and Rivers State 2019 in which the Appeal Court sacked all purported APC candidates from a faction of the party?
Ideally, therefore, APC should investigate the causes of its setback in 2019, compared to 2015. A major cause, among others, was the dictatorial tendency of state governors, so power-drunk to be hand-picking their successors, all the party’s candidates for elective offices for local governments, national and state assemblies as well as the party’s national and state executives, all in the arrogant illusion of assuming party’s structure in the states. As long as APC as a party allows state governors to remain Gods (with capital G) in Nigeria, the party will know no peace, whoever is the national chairman.
By the way, it seemed ill-advised that full weight of the party should be inflicted on one side in mutual criticisms of each other between the former and current national chairman of APC. The former chairman remains a member and does not seem to be fighting the party as such.
Also, the bizarre situation at the swearing-in ceremony of President Muhammadu Buhari for second term, APC national chairman Adams Oshiomhole was politely advised by a member of Brigade and Guards to withdraw himself from the queue of dignitaries lined up to be introduced to Buhari. Did Oshiomhole, without being invited, unilaterally join that queue? If so, he was unnecessarily over-excited. At such ceremonies, even the national chairman of a ruling party should be humble and self-respecting enough to abide by, or at least, await what role(s) assigned to him.
On the other hand, if the protocol group had earlier listed Oshiomhole among dignitaries to be honoured by Buhari and yet was removed from the queue, then on whose order? In which case, it could only be hoped that full apology was later tendered to Oshiomhole.
Incidentally, the man Oshiomhole, APC national chairman, should help himself, by realising that such an august international ceremony is not ideal for shop-floor dignifying outfit. That oversight might have partly caused the embarrassing dismissal from the queue of dignitaries.
Or better put, why did the same Oshiomhole fully dress in complete gentleman’s suit for the dinner at Aso Rock later in the evening?
In the outfit of a foreman, even a party’s national chairman could be mistaken for an uninvited intruder at an official public ceremony under tight security.
Massacre in Sudan
Ninety-six hours after the sad event, African Union, the completely useless organisation, maintains total silence. On the eve of Sallah, last day of Muslim fasting, which could also have been a day of penitence, a so-called Transitional Council in Sudan on the East African coast, gave orders for violent military action against protesters/agitators demanding immediate democratic rule.
When the guns went silent, not less than 30 unarmed Sudanese, mostly fellow Muslims like the deposed President Al-Bashir, laid dead. But the figure turned out to be gross underestimate. Two days later, bodies came afloat on River Nile, an alarming figure rose the casualty figure to more than 100 dead in the Sallah eve massacre. Fleeing protesters were said to have been shot and thrown into the Nile River by blood-thirsty Sudanese soldiers.
The misfortune of (mostly Muslim) Sudanese protesters offers a stern lesson for a people looking the other way or unconcerned at the plight of luckless minority. For decades, Sudan, under the deposed General Al-Bashir, massacred tens of thousands of Southern Sudanese, mostly Christians, under the emotive guise of preserving the territorial integrity of Sudan in a forced union. In effect, Al-Bashir reveled in dictatorship and perpetual rule. But he miscalculated as the outside world, through the United Nations, upheld the right of mostly Christian Southern Sudanese to self-determination. Today, Southern Sudan is a sovereign nation.
In the absence of Christian Southern Sudanese, President Al-Bashir turned on remnant Sudanese, mostly Muslims, for decades-long bloody repression to stay in power. In December 2018, people’s revolt against the Sudanese leader assumed a national scale, which attracted international attention. After four months of people’s resistance, Sudanese army officers stage-managed a military coup, feigning deposition of General Al-Bashir and clamping him into detention. But protesting Sudanese refused to be conned, especially with a political transition spanning over two years.
Protesting Sudanese resumed their agitation against continued military rule in any form and demanded the exit of the transitional rule comprising the same officers and men hitherto employed by Al-Bashir to massacre Sudanese.
In the wake of the Sallah eve massacre, the Sudanese Transitional Council claimed to have cancelled whatever agreement earlier reached with the protesters, including the political programme, and ruled out any further future discussions with the protesters. Sensing that protesting Sudanese would not be intimidated nor even engage the military authorities in any negotiations, the military authorities piped down and offered resumption of negotiations with the democracy groups. A stalemate seems to be in the offing.
The concern is the total indifference of Nigerian government at the bloodshed in many parts of Africa. In the hopeless situation in Sudan, what is the alternative for the protesters? The only way out is any means possible in removing the blood-thirsty Generals from power.
Where, anyway, is the African Union? When in April, ex-President Al-Bashir was purportedly toppled, African Union came in with the demand for elections, a veiled support for the deposed Sudanese leader. The same ineffective and unproductive African Union has maintained a criminal silence in the face of the massacre of protesting Sudanese.
All round – Togo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Gabon and now Sudan – Africans are being massacred by African leaders. Yet, not a voice from Abuja. What is the pride of the so-called Giant of Africa?
POSTSCRIPT: African Union last night suspended Sudan