MONDAY morning, specifically November 25, 2013, Nigeria’s biggest drama in decades is about to begin. The main actors begin to arrive. They are led by a former General, Muhammed Buhari, with his favourite side-kick and former Lagos Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who sees himself and has been acknowledged as the leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
When Tinubu saunters into the reception hall of the official residence of the Kano Governor, his former sworn foe and former
Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is there with both hands to shake him. In toe is Chief Bisi Akande, who got the traditional prostration from Oyinlola.
In between the drama, steps in the Niger State Governor, and the state chief executive who prefers to be addressed as the chief servant of the state, Dr. Muazu Aliyu Babangida.
Not many know a coup is in the offing, even though political enemiesof President Goodluck Jonathan, including one from RiversState who continues to say he respects the President, but will not stop undermining him, are there.
Midway into the political coup, the Niger snake in the monkey shadow steps out of the meeting. He is followed by Kwara Governor, AbdulFatah Ahmed. Some journalists, keeping vigil at the meeting,think there is a crack, whatever the kind of meeting that is going
on among the strange bedfellows that are massed there.
When the meeting ends and the coup speech is read by a less than coordinated new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, chieftain, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, it is a bombshell!
Many suspect that the Niger Governor, who is conspicuously (others think, conveniently) absent when the communiqué declaring that the nPDP and the renegade G7 Governors had merged, is up to his usual “actor” moves. He has not been short of them since he came to power in a manner that surprised tested politicians in the State.
In his usual deft footwork, like his namesake in NigerState, he dissociates himself from the merger of the nPDP and the G7 Governors and the APC within an hour; never mind that bumbling Baraje told the press that he got permission, like AbdulFatah Ahmed, to step out of the meeting to attend to other matters.
Danladi Ndayebo, Aliyu’s spokesman, quickly rushes on air to say his boss is not part of the merger. Aliyu’s deputy, Musa Ibeto, follows suit to exonerate his boss, but for 48 hours, the Governor does not utter a word. What manner of man is this who keeps mute when silence is not golden?
But confusion continues to trail the merger or “working together” as it has been variously described. Even Baraje, in his press conference, is not too sure. In the same breath, he says an agreement has been signed and an agreement is going to be signed.
Sule Lamido thunders that he is not part of the merger, but knowing him to hobnob with men like Rabiu Kwankwaso and Aliyu, his thunder may be a drum beat. Many who know Lamido say he is a man of his words.
Murtala Nyako, the drama king Obasanjo foisted on democrats in the North Eastern state of Adamawa, is in a class of his own. The white-bearded former Navy chief now knows the hard truth: that Bamanga Tukur will suffocate him out of the party.
In Adamawa, where he thinks all will be well, he is learning the hard way that not everyone wants him in the APC; as the man Tinubu, Buhari, and others go to reconcile him with the APC, Mark Gundiri bares his fang, describing Nyako as a political liability and one contaminated with a political virus capable of destroying any party. He advises Nyako to go look for another political platform.
In Kwara, political observers are not sure it is the Governor that speaks, believing that it is the son of the late strongman of Kwara politics who is muscling the Governor to take a position he does not believe in.
But the confusion does not end there. Is there actually an agreement? Extracts from a news report in the Daily Trust newspapers speaks volumes: “…, The Abubakar Baraje-led group of defectors announced that a memorandum of understanding was signed with the APC, though the contents were not disclosed.”
Spokesman for the group, Chukwemeka Eze issues a statement in which he says a power-sharing agreement is still being considered, and that it is only after the details have been worked out that the merger will be consummated.
The drama does not end there. Eze thereafter sends a text message to reporters saying that the memorandum of understating has been signed by the two sides. “Please I am just being corrected by the national chairman, Alh. A. K. Baraje, that the MOU has been signed and the merger has been effected,” he says in a text message.
In the first statement, Eze says a committee has been set up by the two merging parties to work out “conditions of the merger.” He says the “merger deal will spell out how to ‘share positions.’ We have to agree on what will go to us and what will go to (them). That is what the committee is still working on and nobody has signed the
Eze after that says the merger agreement has been signed; he does not specify the conditions and the details of how positions will be shared between the two sides.
With the confusion, it is increasingly clear that the merger is not well thought out, and for many who enjoy the sympathy of the opposition, the whole drama does not show that the opposition men are any better than the PDP. It appears that the group, rushing into the APC, is merely afraid of the sledge hammer of the PDP. It therefore decides to rush from under the umbrella to hide under the broom. The broom men are gloating as astonished umbrella men continue to wonder what kind of Tsunami hit them.
But the Tsunami, apart from the noise in the media, looks a failed gambit with the rash of meetings and fears that some aggrieved individuals in the APC, who distanced themselves from the PDP in the first place because of certain individuals, now find they are back in the same boat.
Lawmakers in the National Assembly are treading softly, fearing they can lose their seats because of the crafting of the law, despite the assurances from Baraje.
The like of Asiwaju Tinubu and Chief Akande, though statesmen in their own sights and rights, appear to relish drama, and finding a willing tool in a normally conservative Buhari, who tags along them to win popularity, not for himself, but for them, delight
Nigerians who love drama.
In the face of the confusion, it appears that the problem is not President Jonathan, but a party chairman who starts a battle with his state governor over control of the PDP machinery in the state, because both men want to install their sons as governor. The
question that continues to nag watchers is whether the President will continue to take flaks for his bumbling party men and aides even if it paints him in bad light.
If Jonathan wields the big stick the way one of his predecessors in the recent past did, he may bring sanity to the body politic and douse the self-inflicted tension by his party men and their band of treacherous followers who want him to look incompetent and divert attention from his achievements because 2015 is on its way.
It is time to act, and thwart the antics of all these snakes in the monkey shadow.
BY FRANCIS EHIGIATOR, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.