Nigerian Politricks: An observers view

A NOTE OF CAUTION TO APC


15 Nov 2014

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PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU, Email: dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com


Fellow Nigerians, let me state my interest in APC very clearly and
urgently in order to clear any lingering ambiguity on the matter. I’m
not a card carrying member of APC and have no intention of being one in
the near future. I remain a member of the National Conscience Party
despite the fact that we are undoubtedly one of the tiniest political
parties in Nigeria today. I’m of the view that the crisis in Nigeria
transcends what political parties alone can tackle and handle with
requisite proficiency and competence. All hands must therefore come on
deck to save this sinking ship before our nation is buried alive by
gamblers and vampires.
We must speedily correct the terrible impression that Nigeria is the
exclusive preserve of politicians and political parties. There is ample
evidence that only about 15 to 20 percent of our voting population
actually belong to one party or another. Majority of our people belong
to the Floaters Party. It is just unfortunate that we’ve allowed a tiny
minority to bully the giant majority for far too long. The reason for
this anomalous situation is simple; most Nigerians never paid attention
to matters of governance. They feel insulated and foolishly careless in
the expectation that they can survive without any support from
government. Power has thus been abandoned in the hands of those who
understand the game of how to manipulate everything and everyone.
Our current crop of leaders has learnt how to keep us permanently in
bondage. They are efficient at chaining us down like dogs with three
heavy padlocks: money, ethnicity and religion. The average Nigerian
would always swallow their bait hook, line and sinker. But the
discerning ones amongst us can see better today that we must rise above
those primordial sentiments and rescue this rudderless ship regardless
of our political affiliations. This has been a familiar terrain for me
and I have travelled this route in the past.
I was not a member of SDP when I worked for Chief Moshood Kashimawo
Olawale Abiola’s Presidential campaign in 1993. I was not a member of
NADECO per se when I ran the Yoruba programmes on RADIO FREEDOM which
later became RADIO KUDIRAT (from 1995 – 98) and used my pseudonym of
Saliu Elenuugboro Eni Olorunopa. I was not a member of AD when I
supported the Presidential bid of Chief Samuel Oluyemisi Falae against
General Olusegun Matthew Aremu Okikiolakan Obasanjo in 1999. I was not a
member of PDP when I took to the streets of Abuja during the
Enough-is-Enough rally in support of then Vice President, Dr Goodluck
Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, against the cabal that had prevented him from
assuming power while President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was comatose and
incommunicado. It is the same way I have scanned our political landscape
and can see the road ahead at this moment. As someone who hopes to
answer the calling of God sooner or later, let me give you the
predictions from me (Pastor Joseph in the making). A lot of our prophets
know this unassailable truth and I wonder why they can’t speak out. 
There are not too many options left to us. The first is to allow the
charade called PDP to continue dribbling us endlessly with no hope of
any, not to talk of monumental, achievement now or in the future. When
they made all those highfalutin promises in 2011, little did they
envisage that tomorrow would come anyhow and today would arrive
eventually! Now that all those promises have come and gone unfulfilled
we are now being mesmerised again with sugar-coated scorecards and a
non-validated hagiography by their spin-doctors. After 16 years, Nigeria
deserves a respite from a political party that has failed to deliver
and failed woefully.
The second option is to manage the only other Party that has the muscle
to wrestle power from the PDP. I’m bold enough to admit that APC is not
our IDEAL alternative. The Party suffers its own contradictions but in
the Party lays flashes of hope and new vistas of opportunities. At any
rate, it would be the height of foolhardiness to suggest that we must
live perennially with PDP just because we are not sure APC would be
radically different. The sheer possibility of sacking the unfortunate
behemoth called PDP is enough to drive the fear of God into present and
future politicians in Nigeria. I shall return to APC shortly after
examining the next factor.
The third possibility is anarchy which we must do everything possible
and necessary to avert. A chunky part of North-Eastern Nigeria already
suffers from a state of Mobocracy. The situation is such that our
usually confident military has virtually become lame-ducks and objects
of parody. If this goes on unabated, only one thing is likely to happen;
a sad return to military rule like we have seen repeatedly here and
elsewhere. For me and my house, this is a No-No.
This is the reason many people have chosen to embrace APC warts and
all. It is our collective responsibility to make the Party work whether
we are registered members or not. I’m reasonably convinced that PDP is
incapable of changing the way it is presently configured but APC still
has a good chance of re-inventing itself  (not least because it is a
reconfigured Party and is therefore not overly burdened by the past) if
the ubiquitous godfathers allow good counsel and common-sense prevail.
So far, so good, the APC leaders are still presenting a public display
of unity and camaraderie despite the volcanic tension within. The battle
for supremacy is always a natural manifestation in the power game. I
can say confidently that the reality APC must come to terms with is that
it has moved from being a Limited Liability Company to a Public Limited
Company and many terms of the former shareholder agreements and the
Directors and officers are no longer applicable or tenable. In a PLC,
the shareholding structure determines many things. For example, when UBA
was bought by a smaller bank, Standard Trust Bank, the old Board of
Directors could not hold on to the levers of control but bowed to the
new wiz-kids led by Tony Elumelu. Such is life.
Once ACN, CPC, New PDP, ANPP and others agreed to work together, the
big guns in those Parties should have known that things have changed.
I’m aware that it takes time to adjust to a new environment but in this
case there is no time to waste. I will now teleport you to the future
that awaits APC and Nigeria in the short and long run. What I forecast
is a precarious situation which would have to be delicately balanced for
the sake of our country.
The first matter to be handled efficiently is that of picking a
Presidential candidate for the Party. The strength of APC seems to be
its greatest weakness. The Party is richly blessed with the most
formidable aspirants in the race today as opposed to the PDP which has
saddled itself with the sole-candidacy of President Jonathan and shut
the doors against its brightest stars like Godswill Akpabio and Adamu
Muazu. APC has in its top four:  General Muhammadu Buhari, former Head
of State; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President; Alhaji Rabiu
Kwankwaso, former Minister of Defence and current Governor of Kano
State; and Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, Federal House of
Representatives and latecomer  to the Presidential race. There are other
distinguished aspirants but let’s limit ourselves to those four for
obvious reasons. I’m certain that Nigeria would benefit immensely from
their wealth of experience.
Let’s now attempt a characterisation of each of those four. We shall
begin with General Buhari who’s breaking his own world record by
contesting for the fourth time in rapid succession. No Nigerian
currently has his cult-followership. He has ostensibly become an idol of
sorts to many Nigerians old or young, an Icon to be emulated. He
suffers three major setbacks.
The first is on account of his age. If he gets the ticket, he would be
running against a much younger PDP candidate, President Jonathan. Many
have dismissed the age limitation as irrelevant by citing examples from
other parts of the world even in this modern era.

Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 and became President of the
United States of America on January 20, 1981. He was on the knock of 70
and went on to rule for eight years. Hillary Clinton was born on October
26, 1947. By the time she runs her Presidential race, if she gets the
Democratic ticket, in 2016, she would be close to 70. Nana Addo Dankwa
Akufo-Addo of Ghana has just been picked as Presidential candidate by
his party NPP to run for the third time in 2016. Nana was born on March
29, 1944 which means he’ll be 72 by the time he runs the race. The great
Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 and became
the President of an independent South Africa on May 10, 1994. He was
close to 76 and he governed for one term of five years. So there is
nothing new under the sun. The supporters of Buhari are saying it is
better to have a responsible octogenarian as President than to have an
incompetent, reckless and profligate youth in power.
The second issue about Buhari is on religion. He’s perceived to be a
Muslim fundamentalist, an allegation that has not been proven by his
accusers till this day. He is a devout Muslim who would defend his faith
like any Christian would defend his. Our President has been meandering
from church to church and jetted to Israel several times on pilgrimage,
yet no one has called him a Christian fundamentalist. Buhari  has
related well with Christians all his life. His first daughter was
married to an Igbo man, a Christian. Both his drivers and cook were
Christians. He allowed Christians to observe free days on Sundays and
told Muslims they can’t be exempted from work on Fridays because there
was no such mandate in the Koran. As Head of State, he even reduced the
number of Muslims going on holy pilgrimage by half in order to find
money for developing the nation.
The third issue is psychological in nature: the fear factor. The
Nigerian Mafioso is united in its pathological hatred and or trepidation
for Buhari. Despite the fact that Buhari would have to govern under a
different democratic climate, those folks are still scared to their
pants about what Buhari’s government portends for members of the
privilegentsia. As a matter of fact, this is the veritable source of all
smear campaign and fear-mongering against Buhari. But APC has more than
enough technocrats in and outside its fold to help Buhari do his job in
a civilised manner. There is no doubt that PDP is hoping that APC would
indulge in some fanciful experimentation by picking a candidate less
formidable than Buhari.
I will not write off the chances of other aspirants but none could be
brighter than that of Buhari. In Buhari, APC has a ready candidate who
can go to the battlefield with passionate troops. The others are still
too scattered to assemble both the troops and arsenal of war. The almost
bizarre and blistering attack against Buhari is symptomatic of one
fact; that he is the best choice against a Party as entrenched as PDP. I
believe the ship of Atiku has almost hit the rocks after sailing
repeatedly in the stormy sea of PDP. As for Kwankwaso, his boat is not
yet big enough to navigate in the wild waters of Nigeria.
I love Tambuwal. He was my first choice over a year ago but he has
become an after-thought to his promoters who ditched him earlier. Those
dragging him into the Presidential race at this late hour are doing so
purely for selfish reasons. Even a novice would know that the race ahead
is an unusual one that would be fought like a third world war. It
requires a well-tested combatant. If APC picks Tambuwal, his exit from
PDP is still too recent and clinically fresh that the Federal Government
would have more than enough rope to tie around his neck. I would advise
him to pick his Gubernatorial form and wait for another day.
APC has the brightest chance ever of dislodging PDP and that is why the
stakes are so high. The control freaks in the Party should kindly give
Nigeria this one chance. The country has been very kind to them. There
is nothing more they should desire other than a greater nation before
they all depart this sinful world. Who knows the appointed date and hour
with our Creator when we shall all return to account for our good or
evil deeds on earth! Let’s all join hands and make this dream realisable
even if we won’t be the direct beneficiaries at the end of the day.
That is the reason kingmakers are often more relevant than the king.
The time has come for APC to make up its mind about winning the next
election at the centre or whether to waste everybody’s time and sell out
to the highest bidder. It is one poser that would haunt the APC
apparatchik in the future if they mismanage this incredible opportunity.
I can see something wonderful in my crystal-ball: what APC is looking
for in Sokoto (the far end of North West Nigeria) is right there in
their sokoto (trouser pocket).

May God open their eyes soon enough.

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