That popular photo of Adams Oshiomhole and Godwin Obaseki relishing corn together a few years ago vividly describes the nature of our politics today. That was when both of them campaigned together for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. Then, Oshiomhole, the just sacked National Chairman of the ruling party, was a delight to watch on the campaign stage. With the traditional APC broom in one hand, he pranced about in vigorous campaign dance for his beloved candidate. He would raise Obaseki’s hand as if to say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Now that the two gladiators are sworn political enemies, their corn episode has become a good pun to describe the selfish conmen masquerading as politicians and leaders in Nigeria today.
Recall that Governor Obaseki’s closest rival then was Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While Obaseki pilloried the PDP, Ize-Iyamu pooh-poohed the APC. Today, the two candidates have swapped positions. Disqualified from contesting the APC governorship primary, the incumbent governor quickly moved over to the PDP. He is now the governorship candidate of the party in the September election. Ize-Iyamu had earlier defected to the APC and is now the party’s governorship candidate. Now, they will begin to say glowing things about their current parties and throw jibes at the new opposition. No ideology; no principles; no shame!
Ironically, Oshiomhole was still engrossed in his mockery dance against Obaseki when the drumbeat dramatically changed. The Appeal Court upheld his earlier suspension by his ward in Edo State. His supporters cried foul. But before they knew it, three acting National Chairmen had emerged: the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Victor Giadom and Hilliard Eta. President Muhammadu Buhari gave his initial support to Giadom. But events moved so fast that disgusted protesters had to besiege the national headquarters of the party in Abuja. Police stepped in to seal the premises.
To restore sanity, the National Executive Committee of the party, led by President Buhari, dissolved the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC). A caretaker committee headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has been set up to organise a national convention for the party. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, turned himself to APC’s Commissioner for Oaths as he swore in the caretaker committee.
Interestingly, angry members of the NWC loyal to Oshiomhole said the NEC meeting held in Aso Villa last week was illegal. But in their protest, they failed to realise that Oshiomhole-led APC was the father of illegality? The last general elections showcased this fact in great measure. Ballot-box snatching and intimidation of voters were rife. In different parts of Lagos, for instance, hoodlums loyal to the party attacked innocent voters suspected to be PDP loyalists; drove them away and burnt ballot papers.
Just as the 2019 presidential election approached, a national leader of the party turned his private residence into a mega bank with two bullion vans stationed without qualms. The government of the day didn’t find anything wrong with it because it was in their own interest.
In a manner reflective of dog eat dog syndrome, the APC in Lagos dealt with one of its own, Akinwunmi Ambode, in the last governorship election in the state. Ambode had performed relatively well in his first term as governor. But apparently because he did not satisfy the personal wishes of some power brokers in the party, he was denied a second term. He went back to lick his wound knowing that no condition is permanent. Today, some of his traducers are the ones bearing the brunt of the latest crisis in the party. Little wonder, the APC and its leadership are riddled with over 37 court cases by aggrieved members.
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It is worthy to note that hubris is one of the greatest causes of the downfall of man. In its heyday as the ruling party, the PDP boasted that it would rule Nigeria for 60 consecutive years.
The electoral successes the party recorded then swirled its head. Like the biblical Goliath, it beat its chest and showcased its oppressive armada against the generality of Nigerians. Sixteen years after, a David emerged in the APC and cut the perceived giant to size.
Barely five years after its ascendancy to power, the same bug has bitten the APC. It is very doubtful if the party will survive after Buhari. The signs are there already. In any case, the measure one gives is always the measure one gets. The chronic ambition of some of them to become Nigeria’s President in 2023 will sharpen the knife that may finally cut the peace of the party into pieces.
The ultimate question is: when will Nigeria be blessed with good selfless leaders? This is a nation of great men and women. But since Independence in 1960, it has been one leadership misfortune or the other. These leaders are foisted on us by major political parties. The smaller parties that usually present credible candidates never get to power. And so Nigeria remains quarantined with leaders whose major interest is how to feather their nest.
Even when they leave power, they still want to control affairs of the state. That is why they put their protégés in power. And that is why they con the rubberstamp legislature to pass laws that will enable them to receive life pensions and double salaries and allowances.
We are gradually losing our relevance in the comity of nations. Forget the ‘Giant of Africa’ sobriquet. It was in the past. The major advantage we have is population. But that alone cannot guarantee us leadership on the continent. The recent invasion of Nigerian High Commission in Ghana symbolises the abyss into which our image has sunk.
We desperately need political and electoral reforms in Nigeria. I don’t see the present leadership in the country initiating that because that will mean upsetting the apple cart. We had a chance to do part of it in the Electoral Amendment Act. But Buhari refused to sign it into law. That was why we witnessed massive rigging that dogged the last election. Until we are able to effect a smooth change of government through free and fair election, our political pains will fester. Let’s hope that one day a selfless leader will emerge to put a stop to all these nonsense.
*Igbokwe is the publisher of NewsProbe.
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