Fellow Nigerians, it is not a hidden fact that I’ve been a great admirer and ubiquitous supporter of the current governing Party in Nigeria, the ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC), from its inception though I belong bodily and spiritually elsewhere in the National Conscience Party. My love for APC was not because I expected its members to be extra-terrestrial beings without foibles and idiosyncrasies but due to the fact that I saw in them the opportunity for possible re-alignment and a veritable platform for an incorruptible leader like General Muhammadu Buhari even if the rest of us are not as perfect. I was also looking forward to the possibility of establishing a new tradition of sacking an underperforming government and banishing the idea that an incumbent leader can never be defeated in Africa. I was under no illusion that any stand-alone Party would achieve this extraordinary feat of terminating the PDP behemoth without the collaboration of other mainstream/mushroom Parties.
Against all odds of permutations, APC was born as a bouncing and bubbly baby. My joy knew no bounds because I realised since then that the days of PDP were numbered after being in power for 16 agonising years. It was gratifying to see an amalgam of political parties reach an accord which seemingly went beyond personal and selfish interests. The PDP apparatchik apparently misfired and miscalculated by underrating the capacity and capabilities of the new opposition Party. I remember its spokespersons acting smugly by over-confidently dismissing the arrival of APC as a non-event.
But nothing destroys faster than arrogance. Instead of re-adjusting its ways of doing things, PDP carried on with its profligacy and buried its head in the sands like an ostrich pretending that all was well when the reverse was the obvious. It deluded itself that the Nigerian economy was at its most buoyant when the economy was already in dire straits and believed its own lies of superlatively running Africa’s numero uno economy into prosperity when it was only galloping the economy towards the abyss. The spin-doctors never got tired of regaling us with the hype of a rarefied Eldorado but we knew it was only a matter of time before the chickens would come home to roost.
Thanks to the formidability of APC, the lies soon fell off the sails and the naturally generous and tolerant Nigerians refused to buy a dead horse at a premium. Reality only hit the PDP in its final and dying days and everything possible and terrible was done to manipulate the electoral process away from its original calendar in order to deny the tired but tireless Nigerian public the V-Day they had anxiously longed for. PDP gave itself a breather of six weeks and worked frenetically to achieve what it couldn’t in five years of President Jonathan’s administration. It was always going to be Mission Impossible but as usual some politicians profited from the desperation of that period. The rest is now history as nothing could deprive the Nigerian populace of the sunshine days that it had sagaciously bestowed upon itself.
Nigerians exploded in an orgiastic giddiness of wild jubilations and jollification and the world congratulated us endlessly. It seemed it was Uhuru at last as we placed our bodies and souls in the hands of President Buhari and his Party. No political leader in the last 22 years enjoyed such adulations, goodwill and encouragement from Nigerians. Even members of the PDP in their moments of sobriety admitted that they messed up big time and could not have won that magical election, albeit they did so discreetly.
Unfortunately and very tragically, APC soon appeared to have suffered a convulsion as a result of its own metaphysical success. All the pretentiousness of a cohesive progressive Party soon dissolved into the rambunctiousness of an unruly and fracticidal Party. Many of its fans like me watched in utter wonderment and befuddlement as things began to unravel and spiral out of control. Things fell apart and it seemed it would not be too long before the centre could no longer hold. The case of APC became that of a man who married several wives but was not a competent polygamist who knew how to make each of the wives feel so special and adorable. Rather the husband exposed and displayed a preference for some particular wives against the others. This is the crux of the matter.
What makes the situation sadder for me is the distraction being caused by this topsy-turvy state in the internal affairs of the ruling Party to the society at large as well as the manner it is fast eroding the humongous goodwill President Buhari came in with. Only the most rabid of die-hards would not feel the heat of this war of attrition or think that it would just blow over without much effort.
The battle started long before the referee even blew the whistle. Reading the recent statements credited to our revered father, Chief Bisi Akande, the former interim chairman of APC brought forth the goose pimples in me. Baba could not contain his anger and derision at the decision to move on in peace instead of crying over spilled milk following the saga of the clearly surreal outcome of the elections into the principal offices in the National Assembly.
I quite understand how Baba feels and genuinely see why his camp would not want to hear anything of such heresy. The blame has been placed at the doorsteps of a nebulous cabal in the Northern part of Nigeria and it instantly brought back the tearful memories of those dark days of the so called ‘Kaduna Mafia’. While I do not have any counter-evidence to the thesis of our iconic elders, I believe and plead fervently that care should be taken not to return us to the inglorious First Republic when the politicians decided to set the nation ablaze with inflammatory remarks that sought to cast aspersions on certain sections of our country. Even husband and wife quarrel regularly but must avoid vengeful and indelible words that may never be washed away easily.
My candid advice to the APC leadership is to urgently put its house in order because if united they will stand proudly but if divided they will fall miserably. Such is the sad reality I foresee if members of the same party find it impossible to forgive even if they cannot forget. They should understand and accept the fact that there is always another day and another chance to win back what was lost. There is always a hand of fate and the wheel of fortune in the affairs of men. That is the reason for the popular aphorism: Man proposes but God disposes.
I have had the honour and privilege of sitting with the two principal actors in the middle of this raging imbroglio, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara and I’m reasonably assured and definitely convinced that they both love their Party despite the storms in the tea-cups that almost damaged their relationships irreparably. Though labelled as modern day Judases, they both continue to plead for the understanding of those who might not have known what actually transpired behind the scenes. For now, they are willing and ready to bear their crosses courageously till that auspicious moment when the jigsaw would fit into place. For myself, I am aware that all the contending factions have points that would justify their position and this is the more reason that the swords should be sheathed without further delay. Nobody can come out of this smelling of roses as all the contending forces acted selfishly including the party supremacists!
Let’s therefore hope the sleeping dogs would lie prostrate in order not to constitute public nuisance to everyone. Our politicians must have pity on long-suffering Nigerians who are more concerned about good governance and not who gets what position. As we approach the end of Ramadan let us remember that peace trumps above all. And we must embrace the spirit of love.
I will go ahead and make my usual suggestions as to how to move away from this debacle. I’m doing this because I know as a matter of fact that President Buhari reads more newspapers than most journalists. Our duty therefore is to support him by supplying useful tips and relevant information that can teleport his government to its celestial heights.
The President should try to put the problems of his Party behind him now and forever. No matter what he does today, he would never be able to pacify every one of the aggrieved members. No one would blame the Party if he fails; they will blame President Buhari solely and singularly. All past Presidents have had to carry that heavy burden and President Buhari would only be an exception only if he can manage an exceptional performance in office.
Nigerian politicians have their own ways of doing things and the President would do well by setting his own agenda and a superlative template for running a credible government. As a prominent Nigerian told me two weeks ago “President Buhari should not hope to have any saints to appoint into his cabinet, he should just go ahead and manage the people around him and if they wobble and fumble they should be fired.” I totally agree. It is better to make wrong choices than to make none at all.
The reason these leaders are still fighting over lollipops is because most of them have not been kept busy. As soon as the President starts to throw appointments left, right and centre, many of our friends would cool temper or simply vamoose into oblivion. In any event, the President should remember that the festering pestilence of corruption and impunity was not limited to the politicians but extended to the civil servants who overtly supported and worked in concert with them. He cannot credibly turn to those same civil servants to clean up the mess. They would expectedly only seek to cover up their tracks and in the process sink us further into the mire. What is needed now more than ever is an injection of some fresh bloods into the political polity! If some of the antiquated politicians and civil servants were as good as they portrayed, Nigeria would not have landed in this odious mess.
Equally importantly, as long as the President is able to do what is just and carry every region of Nigeria along without fear or favour, all shall be well. Our proclivity for ethnic balancing must be improved. Some Nigerians are already crying wolf over recent appointments. As for me and my house, since no one has said those appointed are not qualified, there should be no cause for alarm. My suggestion, however, is that every part of Nigeria must be truthfully combed for accomplished Nigerians who can catapult our nation to the next level. It is not for nothing that the drafters of our Constitution enshrined the principle of Federal Character in its underbelly. It is merely a recognition of our diversity and the need to see that all sections feel that they are given some place of prominence in a multi-faceted Nigeria. Our past history tells us that we must never forget the nature and extent of our diversity. Same goes for the treatment of the Nigerian woman and her place in government. The President should be gender-sensitive as there are many qualified women for every imaginable job available today. They should not be discriminated against by the male chauvinists that litter our corridors of power.
The President should try hard to promote the secularity of the Nigerian state so as to douse the embers of religion which is currently being clandestinely fanned in our land. Every shade of faith should be allowed to flourish and no religion should be promoted above the other. Religious conflagrations are always more difficult to quench and we can’t afford to cause more havoc than we already have. If I could have my way, all those pilgrimages would no longer be funded by government. Religion is supposed to be a personal obligation between a man and the God or Master he worships. Let that huge money be spent on every Nigerian through developmental projects. I totally endorse the reasonable decision by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, who has stated clearly that he would not waste the scarce resources of his State on buying Sallah rams for anybody. We must commend his simple approach to governance and plead with others to emulate him.
The President must tell his troops and assure the Nation that he will not be distracted from the lofty heights that he desires to take our country. Security has become absolutely worrisome for a former military ruler and he must rise up stoutly to the occasion. I enjoin President Buhari to desist from comparing his administration with that of his predecessors and using them as a benchmark because those previous administrations failed spectacularly and that is why our people wanted and voted for change.
Nigerians expect things to be done in a differently better way and not in a similarly retrograde style. President Buhari has shown by a few steps he has taken already that he is capable of this distinction but there are those that would want him to continue along the old paths. I sincerely urge him to resist this temptation. It is the sure path to the failure experienced by those he has succeeded.
It shall be well with our country; the devil will be ashamed!
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