*APC and its concept of heroes and vallains
BY HUMPHREY IFEANYI
TWICE in recent times, I have heard people say: “If Abacha were alive today, he would have been a hero.”
Not long ago, Gen. Sani Abacha was mentioned in respect of what would have been his response to the shenanigans from pro-homosexual countries of Europe, United States and Canada who have been threatening to withdraw their development support for Nigeria because President Good luck Jonathan signed into law the same sex prohibition Act 2013.
It was a shock to hear such declaration in a place like Lagos, which was the hot bed to the anti Abacha campaign.
Nigerians would hardly forget that it was Abacha who opened the door to China and other Asian countries at the time the West were threatening to impose all manner of sanctions on Nigeria in the late 1990s. But on three occasions, the US congress failed to agree on what to do to Nigeria.
The focus of this article is really our concept of villains and heroes in Nigeria and we are using the likes of General Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Sen. Sani Abacha and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, incidental all of them military heads of state and their antecedents in the political arena as linked up in this analysis.
Femi Aribisala did a brilliant expose on on ‘Why General Muhammadu Buhari cannot be president” (see Vanguard Newspaper, January 21, 2014, page 18). If this article had appeared during the 2011, general elections, Femi Aribisala would be labelled a serial hate monger.
But needless to say that Mr. Aribisala captured the bleak side of Gen. Buhari’s government 1983-1985. It also recollected the mindset of Gen. Buhari and his attitude to inter-ethnic and inter religious relations, his disposition to issues bordering on civil liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press and anti corruption as exemplified in the counter- trade experience.
Another article germane for this analysis was written by Simeon Kolawole, entitled “The Canonisation of Obasanjo, (Thisday on Sunday, December 30,2013, Pg. 104).
The writer declared “six years ago, I would have sworn that nobody would ever take Obasanjo seriously again, but this is Nigeria where our memory is so shallow, misfits get easily rehabilitated”.
Kolawole chronicled the activities of General Olusegun Obasanjo and his relation with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he was the president and to maximally frustrate Bola Tinubu’s administration in Lagos State. Before then, Gen. Obasanjo was in office as a military head of state from 1976 to 1979.
This was the period he took Nigerians on a charade that was organised by Chief Michael Ani’s defunct FEDECO.
It was an election that General Obasanjo invited five eminent Nigerians namely: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mallam Aminu Kano, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri who were contesting the election to tell them that the best candidate might not be the winner of the election.
It was the electoral quagmire in Kano state and definition of two-third of 19 states in the Constitution that exposed what Gen. Obasanjo meant by that statement. Both Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his supports, predominantly from the South West learnt the meaning of and what it felt to be betrayed and cheated. Gen. Obasanjo went ahead to expunge the provision for Electoral college vote in the constitution.
The sins of Gen. Obasanjo caught up with him in 1990 when he presented himself as a candidate for the office of the Secretary General. The full weight of the anger of the Yoruba nation was unleashed on him as his kinsmen led the campaign to stop him from attaining that office.
Nobel Prize winner Prof. Wole Soyinka led a campaign team to New York to campaign against Gen. Obasanjo. In the end he lost.
According to Prof Ibrahim Gambari, who was Nigeria’s permanent representative to the UN then, the British and the Americans told Nigeria that when they talk of electing a Secretary General, the emphasis was on the secretary and not on the GENERAL.
Things were the same again in 1999 when General Obasanjo was released from jail in Bama, Borno State and presented to Nigerians as the Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, the likes of Chief Ifeanyi Ekwueme who founded the party were shoved aside for Chief Obasanjo,who had survived Gen. Abacha’s incarceration. General Obasanjo was roundly defeated in his South West region, including his own ward. His performance in office was well captured in the Kolawole’s piece earlier cited.
What is interesting to this writer is that
all these leaders who were once seen and treated as villains in the South West, have become heroes either because they have become political allies of the All Progressive Congress or because they have sympathy, or because they have joined the army of those bashing President Good luck Jonathan. Those members of the same PDP who were described as thieves, bad persons, election riggers among other crimes have become as clean and white as snow because they defected to ACP.
There must be some thing chamelonic in the character of politics that is played in South West. Motivating factor is greed rather than morality and the selling point is blackmail.
Those who fallout of the dictatorial mode of reasoning are ostracised for ever as the likes of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Gen. Oladipo Diya, Chief Bisi Onabule, have come to know. Chief Onabule served as the Chief Press Secretary to General Babagida, who provoked the June 12, 1993 crisis.
If Gen. Babangida joins the APC and the battle against President Jonathan, his sins will be forgiven. Why not, he is not Judas Iscariot after all.
The essence of rational thinking as propounded by the likes of John Mills is that human beings are capable of rational thoughts and actions and they do not require draconian laws and institutions to herd them in line.
But we seem to be in a situation where some people reason for us based on their interest and interpretation of events and situations.
We are manipulated according to their whims and desires, the cabals tell their followers what is the truth, what is acceptable and what is not. Perhaps if Gen. Abacha were to be alive today; and declares for APC, then he too would become “a new creature, all things will pass away,” that is really a good concept but the snag is that such repentance is not from the heart, the leopards have retained the spots in their skin.
Sometimes I wonder what is the difference between the herd mentality that we see among followers and supports of APC and what obtains in places like North Korea or even the defunct Soviet Union? In these places, followership is by unquestioning obedience. Respect and obedience are commanded, not earned.
People join the mob so as to be seen to be politically correct. There is no room to listen to the other side of the argument. It is either black or white. In this process, the dividing line between honesty and hypocrisy is blurred , but those who choose to be led by the nose are free just a it will be proper to liberate the political space to accommodate free thinkers and conscientious objectors.
*Mr. Ifeanyi, a political analyst, wrote Abuja.