It didn’t occur to me that this government has gone bunkers until I saw the follies of Thursday, 25th June, 2020 when the All Progressives Congress (APC) held a purported National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in the Executive Chambers of the Presidential Villa, and I saw, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, administering oath on Mai Mala Buni, the Yobe State Governor, as Caretaker Committee Chairman.
This singular action graphically exposed the confusion of this government, the president, vice president and other attendees of the socalled virtual NEC meeting that rubbished whatever that is left of President Buhari. But if you bother so much about the venue of the meeting, the decisions reached will further confound your sensibilities.
The NEC in one fell swoop, dissolved the NWC and set up a caretaker committee with selected persons from the respective six geopolitical zones, vested with the responsibility of conducting a convention that will usher in a new leadership.
Such military action was deliberately charted to halt so many flowing streams in APC’s rivers of confusion that later consumed its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. President Buhari has no business holding a political party meeting in the executive chambers of the Presidential Villa.
As a president of and for all, he needs to be conscious of the perception of the citizenry in relation to their political choices and the sentiments of same, to avoid building a tradition that will in future injure our multiparty democratic reality.
Democracy in Nigeria has become a piece of shit, that often times, you wonder if ours is truly a democracy defined by ideological persuasion or just a power grabbing engagement.
While the PDP lampooned the APC’s decision to conduct its virtual meeting at the Villa, it left its own flanks open for criticism.
Within 24 hours, the PDP received Godwin Obaseki, postponed its primary election, granted waivers, pressured its aspirants to buckle to the vagaries of the Edo State Governor, and delivered him as its flagbearer a week later at Ogbe stadium.
Democratic magicians abound in every facet of our political life. Governor Obaseki came into PDP when all processes leading to the choice of candidate had officially closed. Nomination form collection had closed. Election of delegates through congresses had closed. Screening of aspirants who purchased forms had closed.
Guidelines for the conduct of the primaries had been passed down to the state. All eyes were on the primaries as the aspirants were seen going round for last-minute effort to woo delegates.
All of a sudden, Obaseki came and altered all the permutations and calculations, not with the power of the tongue, but by a sheer consideration that he has state resources to play with. Before one could finish reading the script, Obaseki had emerged as the candidate of the PDP.
Democracy was slaughtered with a blunt scalpel. Before now, the state chapter of the PDP had accused Governor Obaseki of failure to provide leadership and development.
They had accused him of failed promises; the 200,000 jobs he promised, the PDP mocked him for only employing a personal driver and other domestic staff.
They scored him F9 in every critical sector of the Edo economy; health, education, infrastructure and human capital development. The PDP was unsparing in its scathing criticism of a regime of financial wastages buoyed by internecine political squabbles in APC that halted the flow of governance in the state.
In 2016, the PDP had taken Obaseki to court for observed gaps in his statement of claims contained in an affidavit that was denounced by an FCT court as a fake document. He was challenged to offer explanations how he entered the University of Ibadan to study Classics with 3 credits. The PDP argued that there were enough grounds to suspect the qualification of Obaseki as presented by him in the so-called affidavit. The court, rather than rule on the merit of the case, struck it out because the PDP filed out of time. It was time-barred.
The APC, drawing strength from those 2016 claims and submissions, had to do a further comparism with what Godwin Obaseki submitted in 2020 to the screening committee.
There were obvious discrepancies which became manifest by the certificates submitted by Obaseki. This time, a testimonial surfaced indicating the governor did A Level, but his scores or grades were not listed.
This was the ding-dong before the screening committee wielded the sledge hammer.
He was disqualified on account of those discrepancies.
The PDP that had raised queries over those submissions in 2016 had to jettison the claims this time and grabbed Governor Obaseki after a few “rivers” flowed under the bridge. Some people were accused of being tax collectors.
Some quarrelled over outcomes. Court case was instituted to interrogate what the party leadership indulged in. It was an outright abuse of processes.
But for state resources which the governor has to dispense with, no other altruistic reason was given as a motivation for surrendering the entire party structure to these newest comers.
“Flags” were exchanged, and all the shortcomings, failed promises and initial concerns expressed by PDP in the state, suddenly became Obaseki’s achievements.
The sing-song changed, the percussive rhythms altered its octave, and the dancers sprouted to the floor in ostentatious display of the spoils of the moment. Nigerianised Democracy is a ninth day wonder. The more you look, the less you see.
Failures are turned to opportunities within a whimper, and earlier accusations, criticisms and condemnations easily become strength.
This is the Nigerian way, a way that upturns due process and rule of engagement without qualms, before the glare of all.
The whole allure is all about how to grab power for the sake of power.
When you raise dust over abuse of process, you are treated with scorn and derision. You are called names because we generally love to sweep abuses under the carpet.
Both APC and PDP are same siamese twins fathered by different processes. One is an amalgam of strange bedfellows who decided to swallow their sharp ideological differences to ease out the military in 1999.
The other, the APC is a mish-mash of strange political platforms and formations with the sole purpose of easing out PDP in 2015 by any democratic means.
The political platforms have since become blocs within the APC while both parties enjoy decampees from either side. Democracy and political parties in Nigeria tell a lot of story about the orientation of the citizenry and the politicians.
Governor Obaseki that took umbrage at the criticisms of the state chapter of the PDP has suddenly started praising PDP for giving life to his fractured political life.
All of a sudden, PDP is now courted like a beautiful bride showered with all sorts of encomiums. The 360 degree turn-around is legendary.
You suddenly begin to wonder how supposed ideological persuasions easily crumble on the altar of greed and money. The bride wears a new look, garnished with lies, subterfuge and gerrymandering, and dressed in borrowed robes.
Oh, we are closer to Osadebe House with Governor Obaseki, than any of our aspirants. Whatever be the price for loyalty can be factorised in naira and kobo. Democracy, like power game, is a crazy aphrodisiac.
The electorate must be consulted and given a sense of belonging in any democratic negotiation. They are the ultimate repository of power through the power of their thumbs.
Their votes become the official seal for endorsing power and its addictive properties. In the case of the Edo State PDP scenario, the loyal party members and the delegates were being shuffled around like a pack of cards.
In the thickness of the nights, deals were struck, common grounds reached, negotiations were consummated and the delegates were shepherded into Ogbe stadium with a premeditated conclusion.
A governor who gazetted a law to forbid the gathering of more than 20 persons, was crowded by thousands of delegates. COVID-19 was suddenly forgotten. A theory of contradiction.
A display of double standard. Power makes men blind to their real intention.
Power intoxicates and makes men see the world as their conquered territories. When all the petals of power fall off, the dawn of a new world beckons.
The Edo election will come and go, but it will offer useful lessons in how not to undermine the electorate. People will undoubtedly vote across party lines and make meaning of the swap arrangement that stares them in the face.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was the PDP candidate in 2016, who pursued his case up to the Supreme Court. This time, he has emerged the flag bearer of the APC, and will now face the incumbent Governor Obaseki of the PDP. Political horsetrading will manifest so strongly.
Protest votes will flourish. But Ize-Iyamu carries an edge. In 2016, he was the winner of the election in the heart of hearts of the Edo electorate, but too many rivers were crossed thereafter, and the rest as they say, is history.
This is surely Ize-Iyamu’s finest hour against a governor that has become militarised and combative, when he should display subliminal comportment in handling political differences.
A governor that quarrels at every turn of his feet, will starve off party members when the deal is over. It is a process that nurtures mutual suspicion, where trust is broken, and affection is dictated by wads of dough.
This is a most umpteenth time for Ize-Iyamu, who has contributed his quantum to driving other people’s aspiration. It is a time to say thank you to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
A time for peace and not quarrel, a time for reconciliation and not combativeness, a time for sober reflection, and not continued wreckage of our collective patrimony to shoot down the ambition of Edo sons and daughters.
A time to say goodbye to invidious politics.