Anambra election: Lessons for South-west

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By Bolanle Bolawole turnpot@gmail.com 0705 263 1058

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The Anambra elections have come and gone but the reverberations will continue for some time to come. The “Igbo party”, APGA, trounced the APC and PDP combined, with the APGA candidate, Prof. Charles Soludo, winning with a wide margin that surpassed the combined votes of the APC and PDP. The other parties, except the APC candidate Andy Uba, appeared to have accepted the result but Uba is spitting fire and has threatened court action to retrieve what he described as his stolen mandate! Some politicians! But never put anything past our politicians and never take their threats as empty! Who could have thought that Hope Uzodinma, the man who came fourth in an election, would be enthroned as governor of Imo State? That decision by the apex court descended from the blues like a thunderbolt just like that of his Kogi State counterpart before him, Yahaya Bello, who lost his party’s nomination but eventually got installed by the court as beneficiary of an election effort he contributed next to nothing into! Is Uba just grandstanding, trying to save face after his woeful outing in the Anambra governorship election? Is his intransigence that of a desperado bent on winning at all costs? Is his action a coded language – which is usual of our politicians – so the winner could call him in for negotiations? Or does Uba have something up his sleeves, possibly a repeat of the Imo miracle? In the language of our First Republic politicians, Uba lost his deposits in the Saturday, November 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, which dragged on to the next Tuesday, November 9th. Except he knows something we do not know, Uba should have quietly gone under to count his losses, lick his wounds, and gently recover the recoverable but knowing the Ubas for who they are – their antecedents speak loud and clear – tell APGA and Soludo to watch it! As they say, it is not over until it is all over!

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It is in the spirit of the Anambra election that I seek to comment on the press conference addressed by the Afenifere leader, venerable Pa Ayo Adebanjo, on Thursday, 11th November, 2021 on the state of the nation, as it were, but titled “Fixing Nigeria before the fall.” I felt sorry and sad at the same time to hear the nonagenarian war-horse bemoan the state of the nation. Sorry, that a 93-year-old could still be forced by our self-inflicted circumstances to return, again and again, to the barricades and storm the Bastilles, as it were, even as he served notice he could be at the departure hall of life. But only God gives and takes life! Long may you live, Sir, in sound mind and good health! Your unquantifiable services are still direly needed! In what some may term as his parting shot to us, Pa Adebanjo lamented: “Nigeria is dying. To be sure, the Nigerian state that was negotiated before independence in 1960, the one that was birthed and named on the 1st of October, 1960, is long dead. It was mortally wounded in January 1966 and was slaughtered in July of 1966. Its funeral obsequies were held between 1966 and 1970. The Frankenstein monster that was cobbled together in place of the dead nation that was agreed (upon) has survived this long on the back of repression, lies, illusions, and outright delusions. But (the current President and Commander-in-Chief, retired Major-General Muhammadu) Buhari has finally killed it by his endless arrogance, the manifest incompetence, and the vile ethno-religious agenda with which he is dangerously strangling the insufferable Frankenstein”

It could not have been better put! But the solution proffered by Pa Adebanjo also made me sorrowful, sad and sorry. Hear him: “It was the position of Afenifere and NADECO that there existed an urgent need to convene a Sovereign National Conference of the ethnic nationalities that have become known as Nigerians. Afenifere’s position has not evolved. We remain convinced that the need for a sovereign national conference is imperative. THE BASIS OF THE NIGERIAN STATE MUST BE CLEARLY NEGOTIATED (his emphasis)”. Pa Adebanjo said Afenifere’s position “has not evolved” from what it used to be: but I say it should have! The problem gets worse; the noose of slavery, internal colonialism, subjugation, suppression, oppression, even annihilation tightens more grotesquely around our neck; yet, Afenifere’s tepid “solution” remains the same. Is it that as the problems worsen – and no one can deny that the problems of the subjugated ethnic nationalities in Nigeria have multiplied and worsened under Buhari – is it that as the problems worsen, Afenifere expects its age-long ineffectual solution to become more efficacious? It is said that we cannot do the same thing the same way and expect a different result.

Pa Adebanjo must be too trusting for him to still appeal to the patriotism, sensibilities, sense of judgement and rationality of Buhari. Pardon me if I say “old school!” Buhari belongs, possibly leads, the most audacious, the most conservative, and the most reactionary section of fundamentalist Islam in Nigeria. Argument, reason, pleas, and sound judgment do not move them. They only shift when they collide against stone walls. When they perceive you as a weakling, they pile misery. As the Yoruba will say, “Kaka ki ewe agbon nwon de, lile ni n le si.” Says Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu: “Power is not served a la carte. You have to struggle for power”. Concurs Chairman Mao Tse-tung: “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so defined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, left no one in doubt that power relations, the kind we are up against in Nigeria, does not yield to pleas of morality when he said: “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer. If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: ‘As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away’…The strong is never strong enough to be always the master unless he transforms strength into right and obedience into duty” Failure to heed

Rousseau’s admonition will, ultimately, become the Achilles heel of Buhari and his co-travellers in the fullness of time!

Frederick Douglass, a Black freedom fighter, put it more succinctly when he said: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress…Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have found the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with words or blows or both… Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow” Pleas alone will not do. The Yoruba must brace up to fight for their rights. They must be ready to strike the blow. The Yoruba themselves know that “ati gb’omo l’owo ekuro kii s’oju boro” Buhari holds the knife and he also holds the yam. He has left no one in doubt that he wants to give the whole yam solely to his own tribal people and their few surrogates and he uses the “knife” to scare away anyone who may wish to disturb his peace. Buhari is not interested in sharing, despite the fact that his favoured people’s contribution to the national coffers is negligible. They want the whole yam; leaving only the yam peels for the rest of us. We must find a way to put Buhari’s back to the wall and collect either the yam or the knife or both from him. It is thereafter that any meaningful sharing (or restructuring) can take place. Otherwise, I doubt if restructuring will see the light of day during Buhari’s watch.

 It is in this regard that I think the South-east appears to have got it right while the South-west still dilly-dallies blowing grammar or speaking “turenchi” that leads nowhere. Say whatever you may of IPOB, the fear of IPOB has become the beginning of wisdom in the South-east. Check your history; there is hardly any liberation organisation or leader that did not start out bearing the label of a terrorist. If they fail, they face the music but if they succeed, they form the government and become legitimate. Same between a failed military coup and another that succeeds. I am an apostle of peace but Mao, again, teaches that to have peace, prepare for war! It is when you are strong enough to defend yourself that others will fear to ride roughshod over you. In international relations it is called the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD), which breeds deterrence. For instance, it is because Isaac Newton’s third law is not in operation in the Middle Belt – action (by herdsmen) and reaction (by the Middle Belt’s hapless and defenceless people) are not equal and opposite – that Gov. Samuel Ortom keeps weeping every day as the Middle Belt bury their dead. Where action and reaction are equal and opposite, there will be mutual respect on both sides!

 The Igbo took another giant leap in the direction of respectability and identity politics with the Anambra election. They brushed aside the APC and PDP and voted an Igbo party. Will this be a one-off thing or is a pattern emerging? “All politics is local” is a phrase commonly associated with a one-time Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill. Waiting for restructuring to start in or from Abuja may be illusory. Seizing the initiative at the local or regional level and creating a firm footing for one to challenge a behemoth Centre appears to me the most sensible thing to do – short of a violent revolution. Archimedes was credited with saying “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the world.”

 In the South-west today, what is the alternative to the APC and PDP, same fingers of same leprous hand? This, I think, is the urgent task before Pa. Adebanjo. He must earnestly bring all the warring and factionalised self-determination groups in the South-west together and provide the required leadership. He must set the goal: To brush aside the APC and PDP and birth a regional party that will point the Yoruba in the right direction. Elections are due in Ekiti and Osun next year. There is no time to waste! Those who think they will canvass election boycott should learn from Anambra and perish the thought. The Nigerian state will rally the ruling class – or is it the other way round? – wangle its way through and write results. Someone said the outcome of such an exercise will lack legitimacy; yes, but those in the saddle now, what legitimacy do they command? If Yahaya Bello is ruling; if Hope Uzodinma is ruling, what else can you not have in Buhari’s Nigeria?/SHARE THIS

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