By Chioma Gabriel
When Nigerian Afro beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti released Zombie by Coconut Records in 1976, one was not sure whether he knew it was going to be a hit.
The album criticised the government; and allegedly resulted in the murder of his mother Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and the destruction of his commune, the Kalakuta Republic. Fela in his life time was never a good bed-fellow’ of government especially the military. Fela in this song narrates the military government of the day in motion, comparing their orientation to zombies, without minds of their own.He paid a big price for this bold condemnation of the military institution.
Mr. Follow Follow, also in the album is about those who allow themselves to be led blindly by others. Since nobody can live in isolation, Fela sang about those who follow with their eyes wide open and those who follow with their eyes closed, saying if you have to follow, it is better to follow with your eyes and ears open. For if you follow blindly, you will always remain in the dark: ‘…if you dey follow them book! Na inside cupboard you go quench!…cockroach dey! Rat dey!…na inside darkness you go dey! If you have to follow dem books, you have to read with some sense, see with your eyes and hear with your ears’, he concluded.
Current waves in politics especially as it concerns the PDP and the APC is a big cause for concern. I don’t know the song Fela would have composed about the APC threat to shut down government or the mass exodus from PDP.
But with the disposition of All Progressives Congress, APC, at the House of Representatives and the threats of government shutdown over the 2014 Budget, it appears Nigerian legislators have gone back to the days of zombie politics where legislators have decided to follow blindly, the decisions taken by desperate leaders of their party to shut down government. Legislative functions are now divided along party lines other than being united for a common agenda of fixing Nigeria. The interest of the average Nigerian has been pushed aside for selfish egos and interests to triumph.
The controversy generated by the budget 2014 and the consideration of the ministerial nominees is causing commotion in the lower chamber of the National Assembly .
Legislators of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives on Tuesday delayed debate on the 2014 Appropriation Bill in an apparent zombie-like compliance with the directive of the national leadership of their party to “block” all Executive bills, particularly the budget.
Arguments and counter-arguments derailed the process. APC legislators like the zombie and follow-follow in Fela’s song complied, hook , line and sinker with the directive of their party leadership disregarding whose ox is gored.
Are these legislators aware of the consequences of delay in passing the budget on the average Nigerian?
Many Nigerians have been wondering why a political party that styles itself as a progressive party would take such an anti people action? Why would a progressive party block all bills, irrespective of if they are in the interest of the masses! Is APC a progressive party indeed or pro-aggressive party as many are beginning to think?
The APC claims it is taking this route in order to protect the lives of the good people of Rivers State from alleged police brutality. Is the party really protecting the lives of the good people of Rivers State or working its way into the heart of Gov Amaechi in a bid to get his Rivers State money to run the APC?
The last time I checked since the Rivers State crisis commenced, the one life lost was due to the activities of the police and this occurred when a Rivers Assembly legislator allegedly ran down a political rival, with his car and also a police sergeant, Urang Obadiah. And the legislator is an APC member!
But if APC could shut down Jonathan government because of crisis in Rivers State, now that CP Mbu has been removed, what other excuse would the pro-aggressives give for shutting down government? Maybe, this time, they would ask Jonathan to resign or be impeached or they could continue to make Nigeria ungovernable for him just like Boko Haram is doing. Or is APC is gradually becoming the political Boko Haram?
But come to think of it, since the APC keeps picking on the PDP and its government, one wonders if the party has ever had time to look inwards so that it’s activities don’t become a case of removing a speck from another’s eye when there is a log in it’s own eye.
Has it ever occurred to the party that the budget is not a Peoples Democratic Party budget but the budget for all Nigerians, from where their salaries and other emoluments would be paid and should therefore leave the Nigerian masses out of whatever power game they are playing?
Now, about the case of a pot calling the kettle black, let’s look at what happened in Ogun state recently where several people were killed in APC intra party conflicts over who controls party structures in the state. In one incident alone, eight people were killed as they met with members of the National Assembly from Ogun State who narrowly escaped death by the whiskers.
Yet, these same legislators whose lives were almost taken by alleged APC thugs were being manipulated to become zombies and help to shut down the government because of a crisis in Rivers State where no life was lost? Are the lives of Rivers state people more important to these legislators who had a close shave?
Don’t these APC legislators have a mind of their own to call a spade by name and know when right is right and wrong is wrong or would they rather sacrifice the Nigerians at the altar of a few greedy individuals who could come up with anything to frustrate the government of the day even if the Nigerian people have to suffer the consequences?
Why haven’t APC ordered the House of Assembly in Ogun State to shut down Amosun’s government to protect the lives of other people in the state?
Ekiti state is not left out of this. Will Governor Kayode Fayemi’s government be shut down before the upcoming gubernatorial election for peace to reign in the state?
The perceived impunity of the PDP is not excusable but what would one call the undemocratic order for Hon Bamidele to pull out of the guber race and his subsequent ostracization by the APC hierarchy in Ekiti State? Is that not impunity of the highest order? Why hasn’t the APC ordered Ekiti legislators to shut down government for true democracy to reign? Yet, it did not stop there. A party chieftain was shot dead during a political meeting and another female top-notcher almost lost her life.
Indeed, nobody would clap hands over the unfortunate incidents happening in Rivers state and the part played by the presidency in the fracas but worse things are happening in some APC -controlled states and the party is looking the other way, insisting instead that Jonathan’s governemnt must be shut down by law-makers who are not thinking about the consequences of their action or the true feelings of the people they are representing. Or have APC legislators gone to the House of Representatives to represent the party leadership instead of their constituencies? Whose report should these legislators listen to? The voice of the masses who voted for them or that of party leadership who were just appointed without even a national convention?
So much has happened in Rivers and this shouldn’t be the appropriate time to begin to apportion blames even though there are still more questions than answers. Let us just say that Amaechi was caught in the middle and could be regretting what happened in the state.
But one wonders how he feels knowing that it was for his sake that the APC is shutting down Nigeria and yet it was his ADC and Chief Security Officer that were allegedly captured on tape beating up elected assembly men in their hallowed chamber. And this deed must have attracted the siege of the police in the state.
Now, this is the end of an era in Rivers State. The IGP has removed the controversial Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Joseph Mbu, and posted him to the Federal Capital Territory with immediate effect.
Johnson (Tunde) Ogunsakin, who until the PSC announcement was the commissioner in charge of the Special Fraud Investigations Unit in Lagos has replaced him. Should we look forward to peace in the ‘war-torn’ Rivers state? Will APC now ask its legislators to begin to attend to the 2014 budget or would the party come up with another thing to derail governance?
He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. There was a time when thousands of people embarked on a peaceful rally in an APC state to protest against the tolling of the main road leading to a high-brow area. But the government of that state would not suffer the ‘fools’ they perceived the masses to be gladly and hence unleashed armed policemen on the unarmed peaceful citizens, leaving several of the peaceful protesters beaten, brutalized, arrested and clamped into detention. Even our dear journalists were brutalized with their cameras seized and broken. It was indeed “an orgy of maniacal violence”
It is worrisome for a party that wants to take over government in the next election to operate in this Gestapo like violence on unarmed civilians and yet direct its legislators to shut down Nigeria because of a situation in Rivers that is nowhere near the ordeal its members in some APC states have suffered.
So, in Fela Anikulapo’s follow-follow and zombie hit song, human beings marched left, right ; left, right in obedience to an irrational order just as APC legislators did Tuesday by trying to rob the Nigerian tax payers. Or were they too carefree to know that legislators are paid to perform legislative duties and not to impede them?
If things are put in their proper perspective, one could insist that APC legislators don’t deserve salaries and allowances because it is not morally justifiable for them to block legislative activities for partisan reasons and still go home as the highest paid legislators in the world’s political history.
If Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the politics of no work, no pay applied in a certain APC state when it’s doctors embarked on strike, then for delaying activities of government, certain legislators ought to be recalled by their constituencies or be denied their salaries for non-performance.
That APC is desperate for power is not a crime. Every party is. But how they are going about it is very repulsive and anti people ; yet they claim to be protecting their interests. But Nigerians know better now. If a party that is not yet in government can do this to the masses, imagine what they could do if it succeeds in muscling its way into government.
It is desperate and undemocratic for a party to instruct its legislators to shut down government. It means they want to throw Nigerians into abject poverty for their own selfish reasons.
APC is already at war with itself.
Across states in Nigeria even with the ongoing registration of members, war has started. The party has simply handed its fortunes suffered for and built by old hands to freshers! Including the control of the treasury of their states. The displaced chieftains of APC are watching, and those who are yet to be displaced by the APC are already seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall.
The party is ‘stealing’ more powerful and wealthy people from PDP and dumping their old members who are perceived as less powerful and of no financial consequence.
Having said all these, the PDP knows it has disappointed Nigerians by showing weak leadership. If five governors and several legislators could decamp just like that in one fell swoop, it portrays a deep crack on the wall and I think the party shouldn’t have waited for things to go awry before trying to make amends.
One hopes it’s bid to right all wrongs is not medicine after death!
APC should also be less militant in its approach to issues if the party truly wants to prove it is people-oriented.