One of the sterling attributes of the high moral standard that permeated the Nigerian society back in the ‘50s and’60s, which one grew up to imbibe was the clear distinction between Right and Wrong. While the display of the features of the former, by any member of the rural society was praised and recommended to all, by the king and his council of elders, the latter was out rightly condemned, with stern warnings against any repeat performance.
Indeed, all those held culpable for the crimes committed were brought to speedy justice, at the village square, for public opprobrium, irrespective of his affiliation to the village king or any of his relations. Thus, the needed deterrence was there to curtail the excesses of similar evil- minded members of the communal society. Mark you it was not an Eldorado. There were crimes alright but they were few and far between. That was then, and sadly, this is now!
Fast forward to Nigeria’s puerile polity in 2018 and what we have is a full-blown anathema to the norms and ethos of a nation “where peace and justice shall reign”. For instance, consider the unrelenting deployment of force and fiat; using the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a tool of treachery and weapon of witch-hunt against perceived political foes! This and the sustained attempts to cow politicians of dissenting views and opinions, with intimidation and blackmail constitute actions that are clearly antithetical to the dictates of democracy in a saner society.
Even worse than that, is the arrant display of a comedy of errors; capped with injustice to the nation when allegedly corrupt politicians that have stolen their states blind metamorphose overnight into saints as soon as they get hold of the magic broom! This does not augur well for a nation in search of a moral compass from its leaders. The compelling question that comes to mind is disturbing. What moral lessons are these top-notch politicians teaching the younger generation, when they go back to their vomit as soon as they jump ship from one political party to another?
Apparently, APC’s sole objective was to oust the then President Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) perceived as both ‘clueless’ and ‘corrupt’. But truth be said, three years down the line, similar adjectives, if not worse expletives are being freely used to describe that of his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari. The Change mantra has certainly lost its steam.
One intriguing aspect of the drama which came to an anti-climax with the crude invasion of the National Assembly on August 7, 2018 by hooded men of the DSS is the fact that it was an offshoot of the intra-party crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC). Perhaps, it never saw it coming. And of course, it never got prepared for the mass defection of the likes of 15 Senators, 37 House of Representatives members to the PDP. Neither was it strong enough to withstand the cataclysmic carpet crossing of the likes of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso(Kano), Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) , Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed(Kwara) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).
Though, it was not unexpected, at least for some of us who had wondered how long the marriage of strange, political bedfellows that coalesced into the APC was going to last, the Adams Oshiomhole-propelled deluge of verbal missiles, unbridled brickbats, insults and innuendos that have followed have only succeeded in closing all avenues for any meaningful and sustainable fence-mending. Not even the rapid response to get the former Minority Leader, Dr. Godswill Akpabio moving in the other direction has jelled with the critical mass, as it portends a danger to ‘Mr. Integrity’ branding of our dear President. The onus therefore, lies with him to tactically handle the long predicted implosion of the APC that brought him into power.
But is he? Or, are the members of the infamous cabal going to allow him to meander through the political minefield, made more volatile by his insistence to hang on to power, come 2019? Your answers are as good as mine.
Perhaps, the APC may have to learn, and fast too from the experiences of previous political parties in Nigeria, even of less explosive magnitude. As rightly noted by Charles Kumolu in his essay: ‘APC crisis; lessons from extinct parties, “most parties that had gone extinct in the country were believed to have failed given the neglect of inclusiveness, ideologies, and values which are germane to the survival of political parties.” It would be recalled that the president’s wife had touched on the first factor some two years back.
The politics of exclusion which sidelined Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from forming the government of the Western Region, added to the frustration of the NCNC/AG alliance by a faction of the NCNC paved the way for an NPC/NCNC alliance. This was to be the first merger of political parties in the country.
Similarly, the failure of the National Council of Nigerians and Cameroons, NCNC, Action Group, AG, and Northern Peoples Congress, NPC, to have a clear winner in the 1959 federal election created the need for an alliance in order to form a central government. The alternatives then were an AG/NCNC alliance or NCNC/NPC alliance or AG/NPC alliance.
The alliance, which was described as “a marriage of strange partners like what obtains today in the ruling APC, was characterized by intrigues, manipulation, and violation of binding agreements among others.“ Subsequently, the NCNC and AG dissolved into a new party known as the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA in the build up to the 1964 federal election. The reason was to wrestle power from the NPC. The merger, however, failed because of intrigues over who will lead the party.
A similar fate also befell the Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA, which was formed in the Second Republic, to frontally confront the National Party of Nigeria, NPN. The leaders of that failed party were Chief Nnamidi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and Mallam Aminu Kano. The current political situation in Nigeria, not too different from the past raises some burning questions.
Is history going to repeat itself in 2019 with the Obasanjo-influenced ADC, PDP , SDP and some other mushroom parties forging a common front against the embattled APC losing the election? What with intra-party wrangling already rearing its ugly head? Or, would they bring succour to Nigerians to curtail the issues of unceasing bloodletting of innocent citizens, scarce regard for the rule of law and aforementioned dictatorial tendencies to muzzle both the opposition and the press?
Whatever happens, respect must be accorded to the separation of powers amongst the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Security forces must be kept out of political power play. It takes tact, political brinksmanship, supreme argument based on excellent performance in government rather than sheer propaganda, blame-game of predecessors and outright blackmail of perceived political enemies to get the party in power going forward. A word should be enough for the wise.