By Donu Kogbara

FESTUS Keyamo (SAN), an indigene of Delta State, began his career in the chambers of Gani Fawehinmi, the legendary (now late) lawyer who specialised in human rights cases.

Keyamo subsequently acquired a reputation for being a crusader in his own right and has, in addition to taking the Federal Government to court, represented headline-grabbing radicals such as Mujahid Asari Dokubu and Ralph Uwazuruike, the leaders respectively of the Niger-Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force and the Movement For the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB.

And I think – for reasons I list below – that it was a masterstroke for the All Progressives Congress Party, APC, to recruit him, last month, as the Director, Strategic Communications (Official Spokesman) of its 2019 campaign.

Very few supporters

Keyamo is from the South-South, an Opposition-dominated geopolitical zone in which President Muhammadu Buhari has very few supporters; and Keyamo might be able to win his new boss some new friends in that part of the country.

It is also possible that Keyamo’s liberal image will, either significantly or to some extent, rub off on a President who is often described by his numerous enemies as a rigid, undemocratic Northern Irredentist and abuser of human rights.

Having said this, the world would be very boring if we all embraced identical opinions; and it will come as a surprise to nobody that not everyone agrees with me.

Some of the people with whom I have discussed Keyamo’s appointment regard him as a fake who was never genuinely committed to truth and justice…or as a shameless sell-out who may once have been sincere but has abandoned his commitment to truth and justice for financial gain and a heightened profile.

I cannot comment on Keyamo’s integrity because I don’t know him personally and don’t have a clue what he is at heart. But whatever his motivation may be, I for one have always taken him seriously and think that his appointment proves that the APC is acknowledging its chronic popularity deficit and intelligently upping its game on the eve of a big battle for political survival.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, urgently needs to do same, if it wants to stand a chance of trouncing the APC at the upcoming polls and regaining the crown it lost when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was elected out in 2015.

I quit being a party animal some time ago because I have gradually concluded that all Nigerian parties are essentially similar and profoundly/depressingly flawed, so I see no reason why I should passionately cheer any one party on.

My ex-husband and the father of my son – Dominic Midgley, an English journalist – was intrigued by the multiple quirks of the Naija landscape; and many years ago, he – accurately, if you ask me – expressed the somewhat cynical view that our political parties are more like football teams than ideological associations.

According to Dominic, while political parties in The West are driven by fundamentally different beliefs about socio-economic policy and so on, there is no real difference in terms of fundamental belief systems between the SDP or AD or CPC or ACN or PDP or APC or APGA or whatever.

And I reckon that is a very fair assessment of the status quo…in the sense that our political parties operate like football clubs and frequently buy the most effective players they can afford with cash or promises of advancement.

So, nowadays, I support individual politicians whom I happen to respect or like…regardless of the parties to which they happen to belong.

The point I am making is that I am not rooting for the APC or the PDP per se. I just want the best head of state we can get from any party. And since I am not currently convinced that Buhari is the best head of state we can get, I am hoping that the PDP will deliver an inspiring alternative.

And I don’t understand why the PDP is faffing around and failing woefully to present itself as a credible option and capture the general public’s imagination.

The APC has squandered so much of the goodwill it was enjoying when Buhari was sworn in on May 29, 2015. Buhari and his cohorts have done some good things but have, overall, disappointed me and so many other folks who voted APC.

The hardship that has descended on Nigeria during Buhari’s Second Coming is acute; and all this talk about anti-corruption is not impressing many voters, not least because it is so selective (Buhari would gain more street credibility if the EFCC also went after APC members who are not famed for being super-clean!).

I’m told by some of my Northern pals that even in his core Northern base, Buhari is not as loved as he was a couple of years ago…and that he is even actively hated in certain quarters in which he was once hailed.

One would have expected the PDP to boldly and dynamically capitalize on the Buhari regime’s shortcomings. But, despite having had three years in which to lick its wounds and recover from the devastating defeat that ejected it from the corridors of power in 2015, the PDP is coming across as lacklustre and weak.

Corridors of power

The PDP has had three years in which to recalibrate and reposition and portray itself as a reformed organisation that is no longer as venal and inept as it used to be. But I’m not seeing any major confidence-building initiatives.

The PDP has had three years in which to seek and find a strong, charismatic candidate who can give Buhari a run for his money and give the likes of me hope.

But while Buhari has straightforwardly declared his interest in running again, the PDP has yet to inform us whom he will be running against. We just hear all sorts of tedious rumours about X or Y being interested. But no firm declaration.

Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Minister of Aviation and PDP spokesman, recently rightly said that if care is not taken, Buhari will return for another four years.

The PDP should get its act together and get on with it, for crying out loud!




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