By Sonnie Ekwowusi
Following the dissolution last Thursday by President Buhari of the Adams Oshiomhole-led All People’s Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC) and the appointment of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, as the Chairman of APC Caretaker Committee which has now replaced the defunct APC NWC, it appears that the pseudo-mystique and hegemony associated with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole inside the APC have finally been swept away. It is true that the bourgeoning APC crisis is still unfolding and the tide may still gravitate in favour of Tinubu or Oshiomhole in the future but it appears that for now President Buhari has succeeded in clipping the wings of the aforementioned two birds of the same feathers in order to prevent them from soaring beyond their assigned altitude within the APC.
Initially the dissolved Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee threatened to head for court to seek remedy on the ground that the constitution of the APC has no provision for a National Caretaker Committee. But as at last Saturday both Tinubu and Oshiomhole had dramatically turned a volte-face and publicly pledged their loyalty to President Buhari. This means that the APC is now fully in the hands of those who from the outset had wanted to use the party to achieve their own selfish interests. This was a prediction foretold many years ago. So it is not surprising that the much-vaunted prediction is coming to fruition today. They simply allowed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu ( a.k.a Jagaban) to continue to massage his ego in the illusion that he was the one calling the shots in APC when in actual fact they were using him to consolidate their stronghold to power with a view to dumping him where they feel he rightly belongs in due time. They have also allowed Tinubu to be nurturing his vaulting ambition of becoming the President of Nigeria someday when in actual that they had sworn that they would never allow him to become the President of Nigeria.
But the real issue is not really whether Tinubu and Oshiomhole have lost out in the newly-reformed Buhari-led APC: the real issue is that amid the seemingly unending crises plaguing the ruling party APC, governance has been in abeyance, and as a result Nigerian people are plagued by the worst poverty since Nigeria’s independence. You may loathe Femi Fani-Kayode’s style and unrefined language in putting across his message but his latest letter to Bola Tinubu entitled, An Open Letter to Jagaban contains some simmering truths worth reflecting on. In the said letter, Fani-Kayode illustrates how in a bid to satisfy his vaulting political ambition, Tinubu has betrayed the people who had had implicit trust in him as a dogged fighter for the common good. In any case, do we need a Fani-Kayode to remind use of this truism? No. The increasing hardship in the land is self-evident. It requires no proof.
Since 2015 Asiwaju Tinubu has struck a sort of personal deal with President Buhari to the effect that the former would secure the firm support of the South West for Buhari. Consequently in both 2015 and 2019 Presidential elections, the South-West massively voted for Buhari thanks to Tinubu’s audacity. I remember how many street urchins who were recruited in Lagos were going about on the day of the 2019 Presidential election and threatening the lives of voters who had vowed never to vote for Buhari. I also remember how Tinubu loaded money in one bullion vehicle in order to ensure that Buhari and APC were declared winners in Lagos. I also remember how the ballot boxes in some polling booths were Buhari was defeated were snatched away by hired hoodlums and later destroyed. Simply put, Tinubu has been instrumental in the sustenance of the South West support for President Buhari since 2015. Now the pertinent question, how is the South West being rewarded for its unalloyed support for the Buhari Presidency since 2015? The South West is getting little or no reward. In fact, instead of being rewarded for supporting the Buhari Presidency, the people of the South West are being displaced from their farmlands and ancestral homes by the Fulani herdsmen. It is painful seeing many hungry area men and women walking the streets of Lagos.
I really feel pity for them. Mind you, many of these hungry men and women were used during the last Presidential election to secure victory for Buhari. Yet they have been abandoned today to loiter about the streets in search of meaning to life. The painful aspect is that the South West is not even being compensated with political appointments. Most of the political appointments in this Buhari government are skewed in favour of the North.
What does the forgoing illustrate? Treachery. Deceit. Betrayal. Fraud.
The Nigerian politics is still built around certain utilitarian or Machiavellian pragmatic actions for erecting personal fiefdoms or flourishing personal empires. Although our politicians affirm their belief in certain political principles, disciplines and long-standing moral traditions they have been trained not only to be suspicious of those principles, disciplines and moral traditions but to abandon them whenever they feel that they do not suit their peculiar circumstances in order to create space for bespoke lives tailored to their empire of desire. In their empire of desire there is no God, guilt, shame, social stigma and national character. In the empire of desire, the image of the society as a citadel of peacefulness, fraternity, cultural and moral renaissance is blurred.
This estrangement from fundamental principles finds dramatic expression in cheating at elections, wooden-headedness, incestuous narcissism, stupidity, lack of sense of public shame, lack of human refinement and fragrant violation of human rights and dignity. You may have watched the old video clips currently trending in which Oshiomhole was shown at campaign ground hurling all manner of unprintable abuses at Osagie Ize-Iyamu who was at that time the gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. It is a big paradox that the same Oshiomhole is today publicly showering encomiums on the same Ize-Iyamu who incidentally has emerged as the APC flag bearer in the September Edo State Gubernatorial election. I am sure you witnessed the political abracadabra and the abuses in the granting of ex-parte orders that paved way for the emergence of Obaseki as the PDP Gubernatorial candidate in the said September Gubernatorial election. You can proffer arguments to try to rationalize this. You can even argue that in politics there is no permanent foe only permanent interest.
However the dirty fight to finish in Edo State between the Oshiomhole/Ize-Iyamu camp and the PDP/Obaseki camp is, in my view, an indication that the lowest common denominator of acceptable character in political life has grown much lower in the last five years. Our country has always had some scoundrels in public office, but never before have we had such great number of scoundrels in public office than now. There is a huge national character deficit in our body politics at the moment.
Therefore we need a national character, a national character that defines democracy and establishes the parameters and moral high ground in which democracy should operate in order to promote the wellbeing of the people. Devoid of character, politics and activities of government are, in the words of Federic Bastiat, French political economist and philosopher, legalized plunders. According to Bastiat, the greatest threat to personal liberty is when a government turns against those whom it is meant to protect. We should remind our politicians again that the political enterprise is not an end in itself: it is only a process to render service to the people and promote the common good. The separation of culture from politics or from public life in Nigeria has led to a palpable moral bankruptcy that has been hindering progress over the years.