During our primary school days, there was always a day set aside for the release of the results of our promotion examinations. We often awaited the arrival of that day with bated breath. That day held your future in its womb. If you scaled through the examination you would go to the next class and escape being flogged by your father or being ridiculed by your mates. If you failed you would repeat the class and stood the chance of being treated disrespectfully by the new pupils who have come to meet you in the same class that you were the year before. Failure means that you were not brilliant or attentive or you were plain unserious with your studies and therefore undeserving of any modicum of respect from your fellow students. Your self-confidence simply sank into the abyss.
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The release of the results of the primaries of the various parties last week by INEC was much like our primary school examination results. INEC did what it said it would do. Some people smiled and popped champagne while others cried or frowned and promised their parties or the apparatchiks the quick delivery of hell to them. The ruling party, APC, was the most affected by the release due to the extremely contentious and controversial conduct of its primaries in various states of the federation. Those who are disadvantaged by the release have responded with charmless bitterness and theatrical bitchiness. In particular, the Governors of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ogun Senator Ibikunle Amosun and that of Imo, Mr. Rochas Okorocha have been hard hit by the failure of their party to accept their anointed candidates for the various offices. The crisis in the party seemed foretold a long time ago because the party’s decision to conduct the primaries with three different methods had the grains of conflict and discrimination right from day one. In some states, the party preferred indirect primaries, in others direct primaries while yet a third method, consensus, was on the cards also. So who chose which method to use in which state? Was it the leaders at the party headquarters or in the states or most influential members of the party? This inconsistency led to obvious preferential treatment given to some persons considered to be the main pillars of the party. This led also to the mounting of parallel primaries in various states and endless court battles in others. Perhaps these brutal battles were inevitable because the APC is the ruling party with all the accoutrements of incumbency so the stakes were higher, much higher than in the other parties. But the fact that the second term Governors needed to anoint their successors, as is the custom in these parts, contributed to the conflict once their choices ran counter to those of the big wigs in the party. That obviously may have been what put a spanner in the works in Ogun and Imo States, a situation that made the two governors, Amosun and Okorocha not just angry but livid and hopping mad. Mr. Amosun accused the party chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, of double standard. He alluded to the fact that the National Working Committee of the Party accepted the result of the Lagos Governorship primary which was conducted under the supervision of the State Executive Committee despite the brazen abuse of the process. It refused to allow a similar exercise in Ogun State. Mr. Oshiomhole is yet to respond to this charge of double standard. Perhaps as does happen in politics which is regarded as a game of the possible, Mr. Oshiomhole must have felt that he had to, for example, bow to the wishes of the big masquerades in Lagos, Rivers and other places of exceptional interest to the party. This, he thought, would guarantee for him continued support on the extremely difficult task he has been saddled with. But the Cliffhanger theorem came into play: “Each problem solved introduces a new unsolved problem.” In politics you can please some, you cannot please all. Those you have pleased will go home happy while those you have failed to please may not simply sneak away and go and cower in a corner. If they feel hurt unjustly they will seek revenge. It is possible as has been alleged that some of those who are up in arms against Oshiomhole are in league with those who were pushing for the elongation of Chief John Odigie Oyegun’s term as Party Chairman. They may not have forgiven or forgotten that their man lost the plum job to Osh- iomhole and if Oshiomhole’s pound of flesh is available they can take it with or without spilling his blood. But how can they accomplish it without spilling his blood?
In the Nigerian system anointing your successor is like having Holy Communion. When you take the wine or the bread you are at peace with yourself; the wind around you is suddenly sweet, the air pungent, you receive a new breath of vitality, you are on your way to the place you have always wanted to be. Being able to pick your successor is a tribute to your sense of history and your ability to achieve the desirable. It guarantees that you will always have one foot in the door even when you are out of office. But this
is the theory of it because as we have seen time and again, many successors prefer to be their own men rather than be somebody’s vassal in the exalted office. That is why predecessor/successor battles are rife and they fight with the fury of a woman scorned. So why do people even bother to struggle to have a successor of their choosing. It is a matter of pride, a sign of success because many people think if you are not able to pick your successor you have failed in your final duty. That emphasises the fact that when we queue up in the sun to vote we are only voting for someone who was chosen without our consent or participation. Our role, then, in choosing our leaders, ends in messing up our fingers for only those already chosen by the godfathers and put in front of us. That is the wacky nature of our leadership selection process.
Those who feel shortchanged in the primaries have their choices cut out for them. It is either the Party makes peace with them by making some concessions or the party risks losing them and their followers to other parties. That is why President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to sort out the mess before it gets messier than this. In an election period, the support of the faithful is most valuable and cannot be toyed with. The APC has already suffered from the haemorrhage that occurred at the National Assembly when some senators and Representatives walked away from the party some months ago. That cut was deep. Some more cuts can send the patient to the grave.
Mr. Oshiomhole is a tough cookie, a warrior who takes no prisoners. He simply kills them dead. He showed his warrior skills as a trade unionist and Governor of Edo State. He told me how he fought Chief Tony Anenih to a standstill in the second year of his tenure. He put it in the graphic lingo of pugilism: “I gave him one upper cut and he fell. He was counted out.” His rough tongue comes most times with vulnerable arrogance which does not sit well with his adversaries. In this matter of the primaries and the contestations he has often given his views laced with icy insolence. He finds it easy to go overboard with his pugnacious utterances, telling Okorocha for example that he is a dynasty-builder. Even if that is true he didn’t need to say it in a situation of conflict within the party of which he is the head. Giving his views colourfully is okay but forcefully in a war like fashion is not okay. It simply pours petrol in the fire. That is a breach of the 4th law of the 48 laws of power enunciated by Robert Greene. That law says: “Always say less than necessary.”
Of course, it is true that Mr. Okorocha has been accused of building an Okorocha dynasty in Imo. His son in law, sister, daughter etc have been assigned to various portfolios in his government. Now he wants his son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu, to succeed him while he will be going to the National Assembly as a Senator next year if he wins. Even though there is no illegality involved in these appointments the morality of such nepotic appointments is questionable, very questionable.
The Imolites have named it familiocracy, that is government of the family, by the family and for the family, the Okorocha family, that is. This shows off Mr. Okorocha as a narcissistic, self-worshipping and egomaniacal leader who has structured Imo State around his family. That is a soul-deep flaw that has left Imo State deeply, very deeply, divided.
So has the APC itself been and without the urgent intervention of President Buhari no one can guarantee that the party will not suffer from a self-inflicted and fatal injury.