Nigerian polity: From disaster to chaos?

By Dele Sobowale

“Chaos is another form of servitude”, Albert Camus, 1903-1960
The Seventh National Assembly, NASS, ended on a disgraceful note when it passed forty six(46) bills, on which they have been seating, in ten minutes. Some of the jesters, called Senators even tried to add insult upon injury by defending the absolutely indefensible. The former Senators probably never heard that “it is better to keep quiet and be considered a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” If the 7th Assembly ended in disaster, the 8th had started in chaos which might have doomed it from the start.  Yet, these possibilities were pointed out in 2013 – when the APC first got started.  In August 2013, the following columns were published on these pages.
IS APC THE ANSWER? — 1“Alliances are held together by fear not by love”, Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 9).

Until the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered the alliance of political associations which had come together under the banner of All Progressives Congress, APC, to me, there was nothing to discuss about the matter. APC is now a reality, so there are loads of issues to consider. The first, and most important, has already been addressed by Harold Macmillan. The former British Prime Minister, on February 3, 1960, in a speech to the South African Parliament, had pronounced as follows:

“The most striking of all impressions I have formed since I left London a month ago is of the strength of African national consciousness….The wind of change is blowing through the continent [underlining mine]. Whether we like it or not, the growth of national consciousness is a political fact”. That was eight months before Nigeria became independent. Most commentators remember the part about “wind of change” but few know the venue and the context in which it was made. His views of political coalitions, or alliances, were just as unique and sensible as his views about politicians in general. He was also once reported to have said that: “If people want a sense of purpose they should get it from their Archbishop [or Chief Imam]. They should certainly not get it from their politicians”, I cannot agree more. The last person to trust absolutely is a politician; a bunch of them, in my view make up the devil’s workshop – irrespective of political party or alliance; mainly because groups are generally more immoral than individuals. Even the devil knows that after fourteen years in government, at the Federal level, and in most states, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has failed. There is hardly any problem we had as a nation, in 1999, that has not got worse or remained unsolved. The singular exception has been communications and the GSM revolution. Education, infrastructure, power supply, corruption and official greed remain with us; same with high unemployment and the decline of industries. Today, unlike any time in the past, we live under a Mrs President who intrudes into operations of government, at home and abroad, at will, bringing with each intrusion discord and sometimes ridicule. We know the problems; even if some ethnic jingoists would want the rest of us to join them in pretending that all is well. But, from now until 2015 and, perhaps beyond, the most urgent question is: Is APC, as presently constituted, the answer? My answer for now is: perhaps not. We may need another political party.

That answer will probably shock a lot of people who had assumed that as a long-term critic of the PDP, I would naturally embrace any political association, especially one that has arrogated to itself the word “PROGRESSIVE”. The reason my enthusiasm for APC is less than expected lies in the fact that my readings in semantics had taught me to disregard the words people use to describe themselves and to focus on what they have done, or causes they have been known to support and their utterances on important matters. Lastly, I am more interested in character, or its synonym, integrity. Looking closely at the leaders of the APC, it is doubtful if all of them will pass the test of integrity. Few, if deeply probed, will fail to change their designer suits for prison attire. But, my biggest worry lies in the fact that APC, even so early in the day, is like a structure resting on two major pillars Bola Tinubu and Buhari – with a lot of political appendages or even jesters attached. Character flaws in some of the leaders are so deep as to frighten me at the prospect that power might shift to them. The question that bothers my mind can be summarized this way: will I be [totally] happy [with the change]? The answer is: I doubt it….

IS APC THE ANSWER? –2 “The more you read and observe about politics, you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other..The one that’s out always looks best”. Will Rogers, 1879-1935.

SUNDAY PUNCH of August 11, 2013, on pages 70 and 71 provided the names and pictures of people it called “Opposition Power brokers: The Strongmen of APC’I have always been free of the deliberate self-deception of commentators who write for print media owned by politicians. My colleagues who write for such papers pretend to objectivity which their papers would not allow to be published. So our freedom as columnists on this paper is total in that regard. Because the All Progressive Congress aspires to rule Nigeria, it will be subjected to the most stringent test of its suitability for that role. I regard myself as a progressive, but that does not mean I am prepared to swallow all the falsehoods which political parties dish out routinely. I read, more for amusement than for anything else, all the daily exchanges between Lai Mohammed and his counterparts in the Presidency. Lai, Reuben and Doyin, could form a comedy team. Their utterances on serious matters of state, though not informative, will be hilarious.

If ever there was a marriage of strange bed-fellows, APC is it. Unlike the PDP which started with the G-34, a group of courageous and largely principled men, Dr Alex Ekwueme; Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Bola Ige, Professor Ango Abdulahi, Obong Victor B. Attah and others (see the list in my book, PDP:CORRUPTION INCORPORATED pp 65-66), and grew into a broad-based national party anchored on a constitution, the APC started with political parties each virtually owned by one individual and which might disintegrate if anything happens to the “owners” of the franchise. That is not a solid foundation in my opinion.

Granted, the PDP had since abandoned its original principles and embraced opportunism, it still has a blue-print for organization and governance to which it can return if only men of goodwill prevail. By contrast, the APC, as presently constituted, consists of elements which should not ordinarily be seen dining at the same table – unless everybody comes to the dinner with ten feet long spoons!!!..

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