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Politics without principles: Our politicians ‘port and de-port’

By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

ONE of the most ill-concealed intensions in Nigerian politics, the decamping of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, finally took place early this week. The cream of the opposition faction of the Nigerian neo-colonial ruling class, collected in the All Progressive Congress, APC, made its way to Yola, to receive the Adamawa ‘big fish’, into their midst.

Back slapping, speeches and the trademark display of teeth by interim APC chairman, Chief Bisi Akande apart, it was a very significant statement of intention. Like the proverbial pied piper collecting rats, the symbolic oppositional broom is gathering  (or more appropriately, sweeping) into the APC the ‘who-is-who’ of the most aggrieved elements of the nation’s political elite, into the omnibus vehicle of assault on the privileges long monopolised by the PDP since 1999.

Never mind that a significant section of the eclectic collection within the APC had been central to Nigeria’s under development since the return to civil rule; but in the Southwest Nigerian political manner of describing itself and its actions, those who joined the APC have become politically ‘beatified’ and are now born again, as “progressives”! Nigeria’s ruling class politics has become a notch more interesting and its outlines have become even more absurd!


But it was not only the APC that has been welcoming new arrivals. On January 29th, former Kano state governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, defected from the APC to join the PDP. A founding member of the APC, in the words of DAILY TRUST newspaper, “had been sulking since the national headquarters proclaimed governors as party leaders in their state”.

In Kano, as the paper further added: “this gave his long-standing political rival, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, a chance to upstage him in the party’s affairs”. It was clear that the long-predicted political indigestion in the APC was going to eventually lead to a rumbling inside its distended political belly! Shekarau’s riposte was swift and predictable: “We are moving en masse, collectively and one-in-all to the PDP.

With this development, we are calling on all our supporters, admirers and well-wishers to dissociate themselves from APC and join our brothers and sisters in PDP to move our country forward (as the Hausa would have exclaimed ‘TABDIJAN’!)”. Shekarau did not only ‘DE-PORT’ from APC to the PDP, he reminded of the lingering injustice at the heart of grievances within the APC: “The case is the same in Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa where disgruntled PDP governors have joined the party. We are not against anybody joining the party but what we want is fairness”.

Fairness is obviously not the name of the game and Shekarau should know that better than most. The central issue is cold calculations about access to the funds to prosecute the electoral challenge. Shekarau is no longer in power, but his old adversary, Kwankwaso is sitting pretty. The same process played out in Sokoto. Attahiru Bafarawa faced the troubling reality of becoming a political “non-person”, completely overrun by his old foe, Governor Wammako. To save face, he also jumped the APC ship and “PORTED” into the PDP.

There is an old Fullo proverb that a cripple might not be able to milk a cow, but with the stump passing for his hand, he surely can pour away the milk in the calabash! Nigeria’s political calabash now has many political cripples all over the place with a deep sense of injury and each potentially willing and able to pour the political power milk into the nation’s political sands!

Power shift

It looked like the Adamawa segment of the APC crowd sufficiently papered over the cracks, with each of the gladiators, from Buba Marwa to the governor, BABA MAI MANGORO, Murtala Nyako through to Marcus Gundiri, coming together to welcome Atiku Abubakar. The wily, street-wise political brawler that he is, Atiku chose the right words for the occasion.

In 2015, he said, power must shift from “retrogressives” elements to the “progressives” (that non-existent archetype again!), who were determined to change the course of the nation. Atiku emphasized the political line appropriately: “Change is coming to Nigeria and it is a must. The ouster of the PDP from power is imminent and only a matter of time.

Nigerians are fed up and will send them packing in 2015”. A new gravy train is being constructed and no one wants to miss the trip into the new Eldorado of creaming off Nigeria by a new set of overlords, if the APC somehow wins power in 2015. That is the nature of the game; politics WITHOUT principles. This is the politics that beatified notorious reactionaries like Bukola Saraki as the new “progressives” of the APC!

For the patriots who are setting great store by the victory of the APC, maybe it is time to scale down hopes. At the heart of Nigerian ruling class politics is a fundamental inability to serve the genuine interests of the Nigerian people. The APC’s emergence represents a major gain for the historically fractious oppositional segment of the Nigerian ruling class and in truth, they must be commended for coming so far to the point where they are increasingly becoming a serious alternative to the PDP.

Such a possibility can only sex up the political process, even if in the long run, we might not find much difference between the six of the PDP and the half-a-dozen of the APC. Because in the most fundamental issues of underdevelopment; the brazen heist central to the state process in the country today; in the surrender to neoliberal orthodoxy; the demographic crisis and the deepening crisis of the neocolonial system, there has not been a radical paradigm difference between the two platforms.

The APC has spent the better part of its existence collecting the most despicable political characters from around the country into its midst and one of its emblematic representations of what they call “progressive” politics, Bola Tinubu, was in the team that went to Abeokuta not too long ago, to plead to his erstwhile political foe, Olusegun Obasanjo, the same one he once advised to retire into political disgrace, to become the “navigator” for the “progress” they are seeking for Nigeria!

Can anything be more “progressive” than that? In the meantime, Asari Dokubo, the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency’s most unrelenting Rottweiler has warned that he will NEVER allow Jonathan to be defeated in 2015. To hell with free and fair elections or the right to democratic choice! He also “ordered” APC to choose a candidate from the South-South.

Otherwise, he warned, he will give Nigeria, but especially the North, WAR! So as the politicians “port and de-port” between the PDP and APC, the economically and militarily empowered lumpen elements in the Niger Delta creeks are putting them on notice. The months ahead will be most interesting indeed! With bourgeois politics, the more things change, the more they remain absolutely the same!


My annual February 1 ritual of rememberance

I WAS 16 years and five months old, when I was employed by Radio Nigeria on February 1, 1977. With hindsight, it seemed inevitable that I ended up in broadcasting and journalism! It was during FESTAC 77 that I went to resume work as one of the youngest ever employees of Radio Nigeria.

Twenty years later in 1997, as pioneer GM of KWTV, Mrs. Hannatu Ibrahim, former Head of Programmes, Kaduna, was in Ilorin for a conference, and she recalled vividly that a clearance was sought from Director-General, Christopher Kolade, for the “precocious young man” to be employed.  I am lucky that I did what I always loved to.

Three years ago, I met an old classmate from secondary school, Augustine Bade Bakare, now a retired policeman, on a flight from Abuja to Ilorin. He told me that he first heard from my mouth in secondary school form one, in 1972, that I wanted to become a journalist! He had never heard of such a profession before then, and he wondered over the years, that a twelve year old, as I then was, could have made up his mind so early in life as to what he wanted to do in life and was able to stay true with the vow!

I couldn’t recall the episode, but as an eight year old in 1968, I was farmed out to live with my great uncle, who was fascinated with the Hausa Service of the BBC. The ritual of daily listening to the news, during the tragic days of Nigeria’s Civil War, must have sown the seeds of my love of broadcasting. I recall the pleasure of looking for the missing gaps, as my great uncle translated the news from the Hausa to his Yoruba-speaking friends.

That became a kind of game between the two of us. And then there was my late uncle, the judge, Daibu, who made me read lines from DAILY TIMES and NEW NIGERIAN newspapers, as an eight year old. He used to be so proud of me! The final piece in that jigsaw was the fact that my mother was the first presenter of a women’s programme on Radio Nigeria, Ilorin, during the 1970s!

Wired for broadcasting

Mine was like a life wired for broadcasting and journalism! I started out as a studio manager, and a few months later, I became an announcer. The late Kola Shomoye was Head of Presentation and the ambience was thoroughly professional and with Kola Olota as a “no nonsense” Manager Programmes, we just had to endeavour to meet the exacting standards of Radio Nigeria. At twenty, in 1980, I was a newsreader on the National Network Service of Radio Nigeria.

Those were some of the best years of our lives: as professionals and as young men growing up in a country full of limitless possibilities! I became a very popular deejay; a newsreader; sports and ceremonials commentator; current affairs news analysis writer; presenter and producer of many programmes, such as BREAKFAST FIESTA; OUTLOOK; FROM THE CAMPUSES; LATE NIGHT JAZZ; and FAR AND NEAR! Radio was my ultimate medium of expression and before long I reported for Radio France International and the BBC World Service before becoming pioneer GM, KWTV. I wrote a column for THE HERALD newspaper, when the late Doyin Mahmoud was Editor. Those crowded years in broadcasting didn’t take from my activism in the underground Nigerian Marxist-Leninist Movement and the Nigerian Trade Union movement, where I was union chairman and Vice Chairman of the NLC in Kwara State.

Much later in life, I  became Editor, Chairman, Editorial Board and Columnist in the newspaper industry! Nigeria gave me tremendous opportunities to flower in different areas of broadcasting and journalism, and it is that which has driven my dedication to Nigeria’s liberation and development! The journey commenced thirty-seven years ago, on February 1, 1977.

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