“Alliances are held together by fear not by love”, Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 9).
Until the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered the alliance of political associations which had come together under the banner of All Progressives Congress, APC, to me, there was nothing to discuss about the matter. APC is now a reality, so there are loads of issues to consider. The first, and most important, has already been addressed by Harold Macmillan. The former British Prime Minister, on February 3, 1960, in a speech to the South African Parliament, had pronounced as follows:
“The most striking of all impressions I have formed since I left London a month ago is of the strength of African national consciousness…. The wind of change is blowing through the continent [underlining mine]. Whether we like it or not, the growth of national consciousness is a political fact”. That was eight months before Nigeria became independent. Most commentators remember the part about “wind of change” but few know the venue and the context in which it was made. His views of political coalitions, or alliances, were just as unique and sensible as his views about politicians in general.
He was also once reported to have said that: “If people want a sense of purpose they should get it from their archbishop [or Chief Imam]. They should certainly not get it from their politicians”, I cannot agree more. The last person to trust absolutely is a politician; a bunch of them, in my view make up the devil’s workshop – irrespective of political party or alliance; mainly because groups are generally more immoral than individuals. The fiasco of Governors Forum election and the mayhem in Rivers State House of Assembly demonstrate how, ordinarily sensible people can easily lose their senses once they become part of a group.
Even the devil knows that after fourteen years in government, at the Federal level, and in most states, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, has failed. There is hardly any problem we had as a nation, in 1999, that has not got worse or remained unsolved. The singular exception has been communications and the GSM revolution. Education, infrastructure, power supply, corruption and official greed remain with us; same with high unemployment and the decline of industries.
Today, unlike any time in the past, we live under a Mrs President who intrudes into operations of government, at home and abroad, at will, bringing with each intrusion discord and sometimes ridicule. We know the problems; even if some ethnic jingoists would want the rest of us to join them in pretending that all is well. But, from now until 2015 and, perhaps beyond, the most urgent question is: Is APC, as presently constituted, the answer? My answer for now is: perhaps not. We may need another political party.
That answer will probably shock a lot of people who had assumed that as a long-term critic of the PDP, I would naturally embrace any political association, especially one that has arrogated to itself the word “PROGRESSIVE”. The reason my enthusiasm for APC is less than expected lies in the fact that my readings in semantics had taught me to disregard the words people use to describe themselves and to focus on what they have done, or causes they have been known to support and their utterances on important matters.
Lastly, I am more interested in character, or its synonym, integrity. Looking closely at the leaders of the APC, it is doubtful if all of them will pass the test of integrity. Few, if deeply probed, will fail to change their designer suits for prison attire. But, my biggest worry lies in the fact that APC, even so early in the day, is like a structure resting on two major pillars; each deeply flawed. APC remains ACN and CPC or, more candidly, Bola Tinubu and Muhammadu Buhari – with a lot of political appendages or even jesters attached.
Character flaws in some of the leaders are so deep as to frighten me at the prospect that power might shift to them. Few of them believe in and practice democracy within their own organizations or in the areas they control and with the exception of two, there has been little really “progressive” about the governance in their domains. The question that bothers my mind can be summarized this way: will I be happy if Nigeria is delivered to a political party led by con-men? The answer is: I doubt it….
DEPORTATION: GOVERNORS ALSO LIE –1
“You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest”. Louis Howe, 1871-1936.(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS P192).
This article could easily have been given the title, TWO SMALL LIES ADD UP TO A GREAT TRAGEDY, and it would still have been apt. Governors Fashola and Obi had disappointed their thinking supporters in immeasurable ways on this matter. And they have left, at least in my mind, the thought that “if they lie so glibly on this serious matter, which was only exposed providentially, how many more atrocities are they hiding?” I have an inkling of two which I am now investigating in Lagos State. However, before proceeding to the lies and dodges of the governors, let me address the related issue of public response to issues about which commentators and critics have little facts but a rumour to support their claims.
On Saturday, 28 July 2013, I received a text message from 0802-467-9718 and someone who signed the message as Kamma. Part of the message read as follows: “De painful thing is dat there has been silence from de self-appointed social critics and champions of democracy….pretending not to notice dis inhumanity to man and grave breach of our constitution. It is clear now where they are all coming from”. I hope “Kamma” is reading this article because, having arrogated to himself the role of a critic, which is his right, he reminds me again of the quip by Macmillan, who said: “I have never found in a long experience in politics that criticism is ever inhibited by ignorance”.
Unknown to, or deliberately ignored by Kamma, there had been criticism of the deportation by “self-appointed social critics” some of whom are Igbo people. Let me cite two. One Ofili, writing in the PUNCH, had called the Lagos State government, as well as those of us who call ourselves indigenes of Lagos State, “Nazis” for supporting the government on the deportation policy when we were never consulted on the matter. That is fair criticism which Kamma would endorse, of course. He is not a victim of “guilt by association”.
The previous Sunday, another “self-appointed critic”, my own stable mate, Obi Nwakama, had written a column condemning the deportation and calling it ethnic cleansing; with the obvious implication that the Yoruba people of Lagos State hate Igbos. I can provide more examples from numerous articles in various newspapers about the subject matter to prove without any doubt that Kamma’s message saying critics were pretending not to notice “dis inhumanity to man” was at best, a demonstration of ignorance; or at worst, a lie – similar to the lies the two governors, Fashola and Obi, have served us on this matter.
Obi in his own write-up declared that the victims were transported “across two state lines”. Well, Obi left for the US several years ago. So he can be forgiven for not remembering that you cross five state lines from Lagos to Anambra States and the trip cannot be less than ten hours. So, if human cargo arrives at Onitsha at 3.00 in the morning, it must have left not later than 5.00 in the afternoon from Lagos. Five o’clock in the afternoon is not exactly “dead of night”, or is it Obi? Ofili? Kamma?
Ofili, in his article, acknowledged that Lagos State government had deported non-Igbos from the state as well. But, Ofili, Igbo, categorized the victims as follows. The Northerners, consisting of over seventy ethnic groups, he called DESTITUTES, the Yoruba (Fashola actually deported Yoruba people to Abeokuta and Ibadan before touching the Igbos), were called BEGGARS. How about the Igbo victims? Mr Ofili called them NIGERIANS. That tells the entire story does it not? Kamma did not read those insults to other ethnic groups, I am sure. Who is the Nazi, Mr Ofili?