By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let me state once again that I have never been a member of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, but I was almost a fanatical supporter of its Presidential flagbearer, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, in the 2015 Presidential election. The reason was simple. We were mostly tired of PDP after wasting loads of opportunities in 16 years. Even hardened members of that Party would readily admit to their myriads of gaffes, faux pas, misfortune and misadventure which seemed uncontrollable over those unfortunate years, particularly in the last days of the Jonathan administration. Despite our strident pleas for sanity to prevail, the party pressed on with its crass arrogance that it can rule with impunity for eternity. For that reason, we desperately craved a change and the amalgamation, or cocktail, of political parties called APC was forged in that season of the rape of Nigerian people. With PDP’s unrelenting assault on the people despite the emergence of the mega political party called APC, that party became too attractive to ignore or resist and Nigerians openly welcomed the Party and its charismatic leader, General Muhammadu Buhari, as their saviour.
The choice of Buhari was both divine and coincidental. Many of those who had opposed and rejected him as an untouchable entity for various reasons which are now well known were forced to embrace him on his fourth attempt at seeking the Holy Grail of the Nigerian Presidency. Our theory was rather simple or too over-simplistic: the enemy of your enemy is your friend. At any rate, Buhari won and the rest is history.
The meat of the story is that the APC that took over from PDP under four years ago and what was envisaged by most Nigerians to be the beginning of unity of progressive forces has suddenly become the nightmare prospect of a party in disarray and almost in tatters. It is unbelievable that a party that came into power with so much promise and uncommon goodwill has virtually frittered away its humongous equity. It has become very tempting to see APC as a victim of hypnotism and jazz, a truly Nigerian phenomenon that besets some good ventures and deeds. In case you are not familiar with those terms in the Nigerian context, let me explain what I mean in a jiffy. I don’t know how much of superstitions still exist in our world today, but I think it is still big enough to affect the way we live, in Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular. Everything bad is attributed to evil machinations of the enemies and the devil. It’s so bad that if you have headache, your wicked enemies are said to be squarely responsible. To put it bluntly, someone must have used juju on you. Juju is supposed to be a kind of talismanic weapon capable of having devastating effect on the victim. Almost everyone believes in the efficacy of juju, including those who pretend to be holier than the Pope. That is why we hear of a lot of Islamic and Christian leaders paying nocturnal visits to the haunts inhabited by alleged practitioners of the dark and arcane art of Juju. Many tend to hate the concept of juju or traditional medicine, but deep down, they still feel it works wonders.
In our days as pioneer JAMBITES at the then University of Ife, from 1978, we decided to funkify the concept of juju or “oogun abenugongo.” As a student of Yoruba language and literature, we studied the cultural aspect of Yoruba in-depth and came to the conclusion that there were esoteric powers that exist with or without our knowledge. In order not to sound crude, we came up with the term jazz. It is difficult to know where it originated from. “You have been jazzed” was a popular cliché on campus. It was a way of telling you things were not normal with you or there is more than meets the eye in your matter. Some powerful enemies are on your case!
The matter of APC thus looks extraordinary. It is difficult not to imagine that APC has been jazzed, hypnotised, mesmerised or spellbound by some powerful, possibly extra-terrestrial forces and influences, walahi. They have apparently learnt no lessons whatsoever from our very recent history and the crisis that rocked PDP and brought it catastrophically to its knees and paved the way for Buhari to become President and the party to gain ascendancy at the centre. The current situation of APC appears abysmally worse than that of PDP pre-2015, when some influential leaders of PDP left the party and teamed up with others to form APC and then proceeded to work assiduously to change government. I can’t remember PDP breaking up to as many warring groups as there are in APC today. It is unthinkable that a ruling party facing major elections in barely three months from now would engage in this stultifying war of attrition. This is why many have come to the conclusion that some juju men and fetish women are working hard on bringing the APC government down at the polls next year.
Whenever the APC hardliners get some sober moment for reflection, they should please consider the following. It is doubtful if the APC has gained new members substantially since it came to power in 2015. As a matter of fact, it seems the party has lost control in many States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have never seen members of a political party descend so viciously and violently against its party Chairman like they have done, and doing, to my former Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was only recently overwhelmingly supported, by the Governors of APC, as Party Chairman. No sooner than he took power than the bubbles began to burst. At the point Comrade came on board, it was as if the former Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun was the arch-enemy of the party he had helped nurture from infancy. Oshiomhole was the much needed angel of mercy and life-saver.
Uncle Adams settled in quickly, but not before he had fired darts at those he considered internal saboteurs. He embarked on a reconciliation process of party chieftains, an exercise at which the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had only just recently appeared to have failed woefully. Even Comrade Adams was unable to bring any camaraderie to the process and his undoubted efforts were not enough to stop party chieftains in the Senate, House of Representatives and Governors of some states from making a wholesale departure from the party that had suddenly become afflicted with the plague of carpet-crossing and defection. Whilst we thought that the party would quickly heal its near mortal wounds and come together in a show of unity we were to have our hopes dashed as very quickly the messianic party seemed to unravel like a ball of wool.
The crux of the matter was the party primaries which has led almost to a fatal implosion in the party. No zone appears to have been spared in this folly apart from the North Central zone of the country.
Perhaps the State that best demonstrates the massive problems facing the party in terms of a total lack of cohesion is Adamawa State, in the North East of the country, where the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari sought to install her younger brother, Mahmood Halidu, as the Governorship candidate of the Party for the State. She lamented the lack of transparency and deceny in the conduct of the party primaries which had been manipulated to give automatic tickets to anointed candidates despite the fact that other candidates had been encouraged to purchase nomination forms at exorbitant prices. She declared that this was not in consonance with the party’s change mantra or the perception of the new national chairman of the party, comrade Adams, who should have stood for the common man and fairness. She ended her homily to the party faithful by urging them to “vote wisely”, an apparent indictment of her husband’s party. It is a sad state of affairs when the President cannot hold the home front and the “other room” just months before the election and the condemnation of the party by the Wife of the President speaks volumes about the unity and preparation of the party for these pivotal elections.
Another calamity arose from the party primaries in Zamfara State in the North West Zone of the country. The situation got so bad that INEC declared that no primaries had been held in accordance with its guidelines and that no candidate of the APC would be eligible to contest the forthcoming elections for that reason. This position remains complicated and it is distressing that a party in power could not get its act together in such a crucial state and that by virtue of the intransigence of its party members in Zamfara State the PDP as the other leading party would clearly waltz its way into all the elective pisitions including that of governor, in that State. What a crying shame!
Also, in the North Western State of Kaduna, there is intra party feuding between the incumbent Governor, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and Senator Shehu Sani. The Senator had been in a running battle with theGovernor for a long time, but matters came to a boil with the conduct of the party primaries which naturally was skewed in favour of the Governor. The Senator who had stuck by the party when the gale of defections decimated the party’s ranks decided that enough was enough! He asserted that honour, integrity and internal democracy which he had believed would be the ethos and norm of the parry had been jettisoned and for this reason he resigned and has now joined the People’s Redemption Party to contest the election as the gubernatorial candidate of that party.
The misfortune that has befallen the APC arising form the party primaries is not limited to the Northern part of the country alone. The same situation has been replicated in equally pronounced form in Imo State in the South East Zone, Rivers State in the South South Zone and Ogun State in the South West Zone.
In Imo State, the incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who is completing his second term in office decided that he would only hand over the mantle of Governor of the State to his son-in-law, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu rather than Senator Hope Uzodinma who is the preferred choice of the National Executive and the acclaimed winner of the party primaries. The National Secretariat kicked against this contending that Rochas himself had already been handed an automatic ticket as a Senatorial candidate of the party. There was no justification for imposing his son-in-law on the people of Imo State and the party has stuck to its guns. Naturally, Rochas has been insistent, pouring acidic vituperation and invective on the party executive and particularly the national chairman, Adams Oshiomole. However, it is noteworthy that the impasse has continued with the submission of the party’s candidates for elections into State offices and no candidate has been presented to INEC as APC Governorship candidate for Imo State.
Perhaps nowhere has the battle line between the party executive and an incumbent Governor been more starkly drawn than in Ogun State, in the South West of Nigeria. There Senator Ibikunle Amosun who is, like Okorocha, serving out his second term embroiled in a royal titanic battle with Prince Dapo Abiodun, billionaire business magnate and chairman of the Corporate Affiars Commission as to who will succeed Amosun as Governor of the State. Whist Abiodun has the full backing of Oshiomole and the party executive and ostensibly won the party primaries conducted by the National executive and observed by INEC, Amosun is standing staunchly in support of Hon. Abdulkadir Adekunle Akinlade, a federal legislator representing Ogun State in the House of Representatives. Akinlade, who had initially been declared as the APC consensus gubernatorial candidate by Amosun, subsequently won a direct primary election organised by the State Executive of the Party with the Secretary to the State Government, Taiwo Adeoluwa, as the Chief Returning Officer. The insults, slurs and vitriol emanating from both camps are simply too venomous and considering these are members of the same party, the damage to the party is best left to the imagination. Abiodun and Oshiomole seem to have prevailed as it is Abiodun’s name that has been announced by INEC.
The debacle has reached comical proportions with some APC governors accusing Oshiomhole of fraud and corruption and the DSS which is in the control of the party arresting, detaining and questioning him over these allegations. Oshiomhole upon release travelled to the UK although his return to the country is said to be imminent.
Again, we pray that APC finds its mojo and resolves these intractable differences otherwise its fortunes will be non-existent at the polls next year.