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 the 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 the 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 the 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.