By Bola Bolawole
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Against the expectations of many, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) wobbled and fumbled through into a successful – for so it seems for now – national convention last Saturday! The house many had thought would collapse did not after all! APC managed to cobble together a “Unity list” of aspirants for party offices through consensus. President Muhammadu Buhari’s touted candidate, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, emerged as the APC chairman while Senator Iyiola Omisore emerged as the National Secretary. The first consensus national chairman of APC was Chief Bisi Akande, ex-Governor of Osun State and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s right-hand man. Akande was followed by ex-Edo State Gov. John Odigie-Oyegun and then by another ex-Edo State governor, the abrasive former NLC president, Adams Oshiomhole. Not many were sure the APC would pull through the confusion that had trailed its convention until the dying minutes. Buhari managed to ram Adamu down the party’s throat but failed to also have his candidate sail through as the national secretary. Party leaders, especially from the South-west to which the office was zoned, woke up early enough to realise that the president must not be allowed to pocket both chairman and secretary. Thus, the president’s reported choice for the office of national secretary – Ife Oyedele (Ondo state) or Bayo Shittu (Oyo), both of the CPC tendency within the APC, were rejected in favour of Omisore (Osun) said to belong to the South-west governors-cum-Bola Ahmed Tinubu tendency. Is this a signal that the South-west governors are one with Tinubu? Not necessarily! Their interests converged and they acted as one. That achieved, it may again become to your tents O Israel!
A successful convention is, no doubt, a plus for APC. Had it failed to clear this hurdle, a chain of reactions the end of which no one can predict would have begun in earnest! While the Doom Day may have been postponed, it is safe to say that it is not yet “Uhuru” The party is still wagged by controversies, confusion and court cases in many of its state chapters. Some party loyalists have already dumped the party while others are negotiating with opposition parties and may defect in the near future. Until the party holds its forthcoming presidential primaries and successfully picks its flag bearer in a manner devoid of acrimony and rancour, it may be too early to celebrate. Besides, the choices the party made have exposed it to scorn and ridicle. APC, a party that fights corruption (or is that not so?), has chosen officers with cases to answer with the EFCC! It is common knowledge that when sinners defect into the APC, their sins become automatically forgotten and just like the scripture says in Isaiah 1:18, sins that are as scarlet and red as crimson are immediately made as white as snow and like wool!
A national daily described the new APC chairman as “ex-PDP strongman”. Adamu was a foundation member of the PDP and served as two-term governor of Nasarawa state on the platform of the party. He also contested the senatorial seat on the PDP platform and won in 2011. After serving as governor, Adamu became secretary of the PDP Board of Trustees but defected from the party in 2013 as a member of the New-PDP that joined forces with the newly-cobbled together APC to pull the rug from under the feet of PDP/President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. As for the new APC national secretary, Iyiola Omisore, he was elected into the Senate in April 2003 on the platform of the PDP and served till the expiration of his term in 2007. He was re-elected on the platform of the same party and functioned in many important committees of the upper chamber, most especially the committee on Appropriation. Omisore ran for the office of Governor, Osun State under the PDP platform but lost to Raul Aregbesola on August 9, 2014. So, the two most important APC offices are now being occupied by ex-PDP chieftains. We must necessarily query a political party’s recruitment policy that keeps going to a so-called discredited source for men to man the top echelon of its offices! Apart from Adamu and Omisore, if one looks closely at most APC national officers, even governors, we will find the PDP DNA in many of them. PDP blood runs in their veins! How come, then, that the APC can still continue to put the blame of the woes of the country on PDP like Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, has always done? Lai vomited the same gibberish again last Monday. Time to stop such rascality and face up to the arduous task of governance is now! APC is PDP and PDP is APC, period!
At the kind invitation of my friend and brother, Comrade Niran Malaolu, I was guest speaker at the Abeokuta-based Rock city 101.9 FM on Monday 21 April, 2022, where the then forthcoming APC national convention was the topic of discussion. I had expressed the view that it would not augur well for the political stability of the country and the good health of its democracy if the two leading parties, APC and PDP, fail to put their houses in order and deliver rancour-free conventions as well as presidential primaries. Failure to do these will send the signal that all is not well and that our politicians have not learnt any useful lessons from our recent past. It could also serve as warm-up signal for the forces that had derailed our democracy on many occasions and at the flimsiest of excuses in the past. Can a Third Force emerge before 2023 to upstage both political parties? Maybe and maybe not but it should be obvious to everyone by now that bourgeois elections and intra-class party squabbles are no solutions to the myriad of problems driving this country crazy. None of the five fingers of the same leprous hand will act differently. System change is what the problem requires; personnel change changes nothing.
Two weeks earlier, specifically on March 1, 2022, I had attended the presentation of a book titled “Nigerians’ views on national turmoil: A situational quadruple nexus analysis” authored by my friend and brother, Prof. Babafemi Badejo, a professor of Political Science at Chrisland University, Abeokuta. A news medium reported the event thus: “A university lecturer, who is also a former consultant to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Prof. Babafemi Badejo, has said most Nigerians are not swayed by the periodic conduct of elections in the country to believe that the country is under democratic rule. (Badejo) said it would be a deceit of great proportions to believe that Nigeria is under democratic rule.
“Drawing from the responses of Nigerians to a survey on Situational Quadruple Nexus, SQN, Badejo opined that apart from the gains made during the First Republic, Nigeria had fallen short of all known indices regarding democratic rule. The views expressed by these selected Nigerians on SQN issues were mind-boggling. They suggested the need for Nigerians to begin to ask critical questions as a nation… In addition, the 207 representative Nigerians laid bare their thoughts on environmental overarching issues that make positive actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a mirage. This situational foundation includes governance (leadership deficit and corruption), external dynamics, institutions and resources”
Badejo said one important question he raised in the book was “on the subject of democracy, especially as epitomized by the periodic charade of elections in Nigeria. My views on democracy align with those of other Nigerians’ as shown by the statistics from the survey. On the basis of the understanding of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people, I differ in the popular deceit about the existence of democracy in Nigeria. Realistically, there has never been democracy in independent Nigeria, save for the success achieved under regional self-rule in the Western Region of 1954-59 in the Obafemi Awolowo era. The mere periodic focus on electoral voting that continues to destabilize the polity, resulting in deaths and serving the interests of only a few, contradicts the tenet that democracy is ‘for the people’
“The Vice-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Prof. Chinedum Babalola, bemoaned the sad commentary that ‘Since Nigeria’s independence, the country has been entangled in a series of obstinate conflicts leading to the loss of lives and property. These conflicts have manifested in religious, ethnic, political, electoral banditry, communal, and even resource contestations. Despite spirited efforts by successive governments to address these problems, the growing level of insecurity remains unprecedented (and the) direct fallout is that the country has been unable to attain national cohesion and social integration essential to political stability and national development’.
“Chairman of the occasion, José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and Nobel Laureate for Peace, tasked Nigerians with the significance of sustained dialogue for mutual and progressive compromises in the interest of Nigeria, saying only this can usher in good governance in the country. Other lead discussants were unanimous in their submission on corruption as bane of national development”.
Like Karl Marx posited, philosophers have interpreted the world; the task now is to change it. Nigeria’s problems are well known but why the suffering masses have remained docile rather than stir remains a puzzle. Are we, then, to go along with Napoleon Bonaparte’s analysis of China that Nigeria’s suffering mass is a sleeping giant that will move the world the moment it awakes? But when will that be?
Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board & Deputy Editor-in-Chief, BOLAWOLE was also Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Westerner newsmagazine. He writes the TREASURES column in the New Telegraph newspaper and the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune newspaper. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.