By Pini Jason
AT the sixth edition of her Town Hall meeting, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, the immediate past First Lady of Lagos State and wife of the national leader of the ACN, Mrs. OluremiTinubu asserted that the formation of All Progressives Congress, APC, is a divine opportunity to save the country (Daily Sun Tuesday 19 March 2013).
Her rather hifalutin thesis rested on her claim that APC is “a broad coalition of progressively minded politicians on a mission to rescue Nigeria from the present slow pace of development”.
This article does not intend to interrogate her definition of “progressively minded politicians” But so far, suffice to say that by their conducts we shall know them!
It is the usual political game the world over for the opposition to find faults with the policies of a ruling party and try to catch votes by blaming a ruling party for everything wrong in the country.
In Nigeria’s case, because we have had a history of dominant political parties the opposition has often assumed a holier-than-thou posture to exploit the gullibility of the electorate by casting the ruling party as the devil.
The dominance of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has naturally elicited frustration among the opposition parties. This frustration is often expressed in such lamentation as “the PDP has been the problem of Nigeria in the last 12 years!” But if you have observed keenly, you would have noticed that the dominance of parties either at the national level or at states levels has often created osmatic flow from the opposition to the ruling parties.
That is, where a party is in power, the opposition deserts its “divine calling” and joins the ruling party to “chop”. The hypocrisy in Nigerian politics has been that where the osmatic flow is from the opposition to the ruling PDP, it is greeted with excoriation while those who decamp from the PDP to join the opposition are passed off as “progressives”.
The opposition paper, The Nation, last week gloatingly quoted a Board of Trustee member of the PDP, Kashim Imam, as promising at the 61st birthday dinner for the ACN national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that once APC is registered, over 50 per cent of PDP members will defect to the APC.
Before Imam’s projection, it had been speculated that nine PDP Governors would decamp to the APC. My reading of these speculations is that someone is trying to persuade me that once those PDP members responsible for all the failings of the country in the last 12 years decamp to the opposition APC, they become “progressives” with the “divine opportunity” to save Nigeria.
In other words, the progressiveness of the APC will not be denatured by the influx of a polyglot of PDP non-progressives of yesterday! Should I allow myself to be so persuaded? I think not!
It is obvious that Imam’s grouse, like that of other members of the proposed APC, has to do specifically and exclusively with the politics of the occupation of Aso Villa in 2015 and not with any broader ideological commitment. Indeed, it should be clear that all the posturing, tergiversation and political peregrination are all about power; raw power to capture the resources of the country and any combination or strategy that procures power will do!
That is why we witness so much politics and little governance. And the politicians make no pretences about their motive. Since that is so, we need to ask what makes the difference between the PDP “devils” and the yet-to-come APC “angels”.
The difference is the same, except in name. There is nothing ideological whatsoever that distinguishes APC from PDP. The reason is simple. Majority of those touting the APC nirvana had their roots in the PDP.
One of the “progressives” in the ACN today and active promoter of the APC, Chief Tom Ikimi, was the man Nigerians detested for rationalising Gen. Sani Abacha’s judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa. He later returned as the man whose baritone voice yesterday intoned: “Obaasanjoo, Obaasanjoo…Ekweme, Ekweme, Obaasanjoo” at the Eagle Square at the PDP Presidential primary!
That is how Nigerian progressives are made. Two feet, enemy; four feet friend! Take another typical example. When former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was in the PDP, he was savaged by the opposition as part of the “band of devils” that plagued the country for 12 years. When he fell out with PDP and joined the opposition to form the AC, he became a hero and a “progressive”. But when he was squeezed out of the AC as a result of its enclave ideology, and had to run back to PDP, he became a “devil” once again.
Let us go to the National Assembly where you have members of the parties promoting the APC. Is there any discernible conduct so far that separates the “angelic” opposition parties from the ruling PDP “devils”? None whatsoever. On all matters frustrating Nigerians, the entire members of the National Assembly are ranged against the people as one evil machine! Is it that the ACN, ANPP, CPC and the fractious APGA legislators are unaware that Nigerians are incensed by the statutory kickback called constituency projects?
Is it moral to arm-twist the Executive to approve for you money that has no place in the constitution so that you can play big man in your community and “donate” some of it to us as wheelbarrows, shovels and head pans? Did members of these “angelic confraternity” distance themselves from the opprobrium of Herman Hembe’s alleged indiscretion for which he has been standing trial?
Did any of the opposition parties distance itself from the persecution of Arunma Oteh for her audacity to confront Hembe? Did the opposition parties in the National Assembly ever stand up to be counted among the angels in Lawan Farouk’s Otedola gate? Did all of them not close ranks over the scandal and even tried to blackmail the Executive by accusing it of trying to remove the House leadership?
If you scratched AshiwajuTinubu today, he would tell you that a National Conference, restructuring of the polity and true/fiscal federalism is answer to the nation’s woes. Incidentally, Mrs. Tinubu is a member of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review. As the wife of the leader of ACN, one had expected her to take a stand, like many members of her party, that a National Conference is the most credible route to a participatory and inclusive constitution making.
But when the National Assembly embarked on the now deadlocked but money guzzling fruitless constitution amendment, we did not hear or see her stand up to show the difference between her party and the PDP; or have they abandoned that position? Ironically too, it is an ACN member, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who leads the arm-twisting of the Executive on some the issues Nigerians frown at while members of the “ruling” PDP just follow his lead in the demonisation of their party.
It is an APGA member and former editor of a national magazine, Mr. Ogene, that rationalises the hounding of Arunma Oteh for exposing Mr. Hembe. The point is that the ideological posturing on which the proponents of the APC base their “divine opportunity to save the country” appears to stop at the car park of the National Assembly!
ALL the parties appear united and complicit in the rot, and none has the moral high ground to accuse the other. It may not make any difference if and when the opposition captures power. Nigerian politicians belong to the same ethnic group and one political party ideologically united against the Nigerian people. And salvation will only come from the Nigerian people.