A CURSORY look into why the interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, addressed his world press conference recently gave an impression that he was a truly concerned elder who wanted to speak to the issue of the insurgency that has escalated in the last few weeks. At a point, he said that it was time for all to rally to save the country, as if some have stood idly by while the insurgency raged.
A deeper reading of his text at the press conference showed a sinister motive beneath his attempt at statesmanship. It was a gloater’s rendition by a man who was in the serves-them-right mode, wanting to gain cheap political capital out of a situation brought upon the nation by elements within his own party which he failed to acknowledge.
He declined to tell us it was the failure of leadership at the state government level occasioned by the desperation of a former governor of one of the APC states that ballooned this security situation out of hand. That governor, who now wants to occupy one of the highest offices in the APC, is still being fingered by many in the state for the destabilisation there.
It would be recalled that a former chieftain of one of the parties that coalesced into the APC, told Nigerians how he warned the former governor of the implication of keeping youths in his state unemployed and using them to score political gains. Except Akande does not want to remember, Nigerians still remember what transpired then. Rather than gloat over what we have on our hands, he should give us fresh ideas outside what government is doing as contained in his 10-point suggestions.
The government has already told us about these; so, we do not need a coloured rehash of them from those who do not wish Nigeria well.
If the North-East is what APC can show as an example, it can well be imagined what the party will do with Nigeria if they ever mount the saddle in the country. Akande says that since 2009, when President Goodluck Jonathan was actually not in office, Boko Haram launched its terror campaign, killing and maiming thousands of citizens, while the economic and social activities in a whole section of the country, run by APC governors, have been paralysed.
According to him, since January 2014, Boko Haram has killed over 1,500 people, mostly civilians, minus the 95 people who died in the two bombings at Nyanya in Abuja, and the over 150 who were killed in Gamboru, Borno State, last week. He declared that Nigeria is at war! And like others, he sought to know: “How did we get to this sorry pass? Could we have averted the situation in which we have now found ourselves, a situation in which Africa’s most populous nation, and one said to have the largest economy on the continent, is now lying prostate, begging the world for help? How did a country that has been at the vanguard of maintaining peace in other countries since 1960 now become something of a panhandler? How can we restore peace to our country and provide safety and security for our people?”
It is obvious that, except the elder has a bout of forgetfulness, he will remember that we got to this pass as a result of the radicalisation of some impressionable minds within the Borno/Yobe axis, and indeed other parts, for political reasons by those he well knows, and who wine and dine with him at party meetings. And what is strange about Nigeria asking the world for help? Didn’t an embattled and troubled United States of America seek the help of the world when it needed to fight the axis of evil and terrorists it claimed were a menace shortly after the twin towers bombing in New York? Or was Akande sleeping when this happened?
Except Akande has not been in the country in recent times, or is again selectively forgetful, he would have observed that one of the chieftains of his party, who he wants the world to believe does not have a hand in the emboldening of the terrorists, has changed gear and now appears worried that the situation requires every patriot to be involved in resolving, rather than exacerbating. General Mohammadu Buhari knows more than his co-travellers that he needs a functional Nigeria if he must achieve his life ambition of running her. Those who have been meeting with Buhari in the open, and undermining him secretly, would not be able to understand him since they have been local champions, and have not handled matters at the federal level.
Akande added that statements made by key leaders of his party, including Buhari, were distorted and taken out of context to justify PDP’s claim that the APC is the sponsor of terrorist attacks, adding that opponents of APC say a party that has 35 interim officials, 18 of them Muslims and 17 of them Christians, is an Islamic party that is in cahoots with Boko Haram. He stated that no amount of disclaimer by the APC impressed its accusers.
But, by the way, were the accusers of the party within and outside it wrong? With due respect to those of them that made incendiary comments in the past that are now haunting them today, are the accusations against them not simply because they were not taciturn and allowed their emotions to rule their tongues? Also, Akande should tell us the religion of the interim Chairman, Secretary, Publicity Secretary, and the two prominent party leaders, who have been in the public domain since the party was put together? Are they not the faces we see and the voices we hear all the time in the media? So what should we think?
Instead of Akande regaling us with needless history, strategies, and positions, he should be the elder statesman his followers alone claim he is and tell us something new and refreshing. His world press conference was nothing but a sham and a shame for an elder like him.
KAYODE OJO, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.