By Dele Sobowale
“A clown is like a man sitting on a throne of ice wondering when it will melt away.’ Red Skelton, American Comedian c 1971.
That rapidly disappearing throne of ice in Aso Rock is now causing pandemonium everywhere. One Baba not known to return from medical trips abroad ahead of schedule suddenly showed up before time. The security details at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport must have had a devil of a time believing that it was indeed Baba coming in before closing the airport to all traffic and messing up fellow Nigerians. One friend caught in the fiasco of Baba’s change of plans actually set out to travel the day before Ogapatapata’s return to avoid getting caught in just that mess. God give us leaders who think of us…
But, you can’t blame Baba. When your pants are on fire, you will tell even the doctor to hurry up. The news from home amounted to setting fire to somebody’s underwear by some mischievous individuals. It was about another “Satanic” letter written threatening to reduce Baba’s kingdom in the National Assembly, NASS, by close to half. Even King John would have jumped on the first horse and raced to the palace.
Unfortunately, it is not only Baba who is in a frenzy right now. Those about to lose their senses might run to hundreds of thousands. When the All Progressives Congress, APC, was patched together, some of us had foreseen a break up such as this. Writing in 2013 when the party first emerged I had made the following observation which as usual had proved prophetic. “But from now  until 2015 and perhaps beyond, the most urgent question is: IS APC THE ANSWER? My answer for now  is: perhaps not. We may need another political party.”
Today, the answer to my 2013 question is “definitely not”. But before going into the reasons today why APC has crumbled, let me point out how the victory and Jonathan’s easy acceptance might have paved the way for the calamities (yes calamities because they are numerous) befalling the party today.
“In times of victory, prophets are unnecessary distractions.” —Professor Trevor-Roper in THE LAST DAYS OF HITLER.
Once Jonathan capitulated and Buhari was sworn in, the media took over. Every newspaper was full of praises for one particular political leader who was called “the architect” of the CHANGE. Columnists writing for his own paper, many of them minor clowns, were outdoing themselves in polishing the apple. I was probably one of the few writers who refused to be overjoyed. Instinctively, something told me that we have created a President who might shock us to the marrows and the “Masterplanner” might turn out to have placed thousands of Nigerian politicians in the equivalent of the great TITANIC – that great boat which despite all assurances about its safety went down on its maiden voyage. We now know that the APC which started out in 2013 will not be with us in 2019 and perhaps even before December this year.
What happened and why did it occur so quickly?
“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.”
A political party can be described as group of adults who agree to spread the same set of lies to the public. The more cohesive they are in disseminating the lie, the stronger the party. Unfortunately only the truth lasts for ever. That is why all political parties eventually confront their nemesis. Some do it faster than others. The PDP lived with its own lies from 1999 to 2010; then it started to crumble. The 2011 elections provided the party with an opportunity to re-group and postpone the judgment day. By 2013 nothing could have saved the party.
The APC will collapse faster because it was based on satisfying the ambitions of two individually powerful men (names withheld but you must be a dunce if you don’t know) to be in Aso Rock. But, since there cannot be two Presidents at once, it was also agreed that one would be President and the other Vice President. That secret agreement reached by the two was unknown to even some of their closest associates. I met providentially with one such confidante of one of the two who was in the Campos Area to pay condolence visit to the family of late Egbon Dayo Wright.
The discussions ran all over the globe when suddenly the matter of how Osinbajo became Vice President was brought up. Our Campos visitor was shocked when I told him why he and another close confidante were excluded from the most important meeting. That was when the Muslim-Muslim ticket agreement was struck. It was the bomb under APC even before Day 1. The two parties had to receive what was agreed or the alliance was on shaky ground ab initio. As it turned out only one got what he wanted; the other, already a big loser (unknown to his praise singers), knew he made the worst bargain of his life – given all the resources poured into the venture. My heart really bled for him.
The situation could have been saved by the winner. But, it takes a unique kind of leader to know what to do under those circumstances. It requires an intelligent sage. Let me now stop speaking in tongues.
Buhari has been described by his best admirers and worst apple-polishers with many words – integrity, discipline, patriotic, focused etc. That should not delay us now. Seldom have two words: intelligent and wise been added. That should bother us. It was the lack of deep intelligence and wisdom that paved the way for the problems in APC today. On the day that it became clear that Buhari alone would have his prayers answered he should have thought of not only compensating “the other party” to the Muslim-Muslim ticket agreement, he should have made his determination to reward the man for his support evident to all APC members. It should have been a matter of “If you mess with HIM you mess with ME.” That did not happen.
Immediately after Jonathan threw in the towel Buhari took the “Cup of Victory” home; sat with “Advisers” who played no role in the victory; slammed the door in the face of the party and started announcing names of people not once seen on the campaign trail, mostly from Katsina and Daura. “The other party” heard about the announcements just about the same time as other Nigerians. Buhari, quite unwisely personalized the victory and started to act accordingly.
It was no coincidence that several members of the National Assembly, NASS, in both chambers met quietly to chart their own course. With a President, just a few days old being so parochial, ethnic and intolerant in religion, they were not about to have Katsina lawmakers or in-laws as President of Senate or Speaker. They needed a more balanced team in leadership which was what they have got. Even the recent activities of agents of disruption have not shaken the NASS leadership structure because it is more equitable and more representative of Nigeria than the appointments in the Executive branch.
So Buhari, deliberately or inadvertently, planted all the seeds of destruction of the APC; starting with a secret agreement to which other APC members were not parties. The intention was to dribble everybody to the convention, get the President candidate nominated and then face the party with the VP-choice in the hope that so late in the day few would object. That was neither intelligent nor wise. Because Buhari headed a military administration with Muslim-Muslim leadership has always pre-disposed him to the idea that either Christians don’t count or can be “dealt with” but not on the basis of fairness – always a thoroughbred religious bigot. And, that bigotry would sooner or later manifest so clearly that Christians who gave him a benefit of doubt in 2015 will never do so again. We have seen it with the mass murder of Christians with impunity. Wait for more between now and 2019.
His worst sin against APC was the lack of Plan for Governance. Had he gone close to “the other party” he would have had the best and brightest in the world to help him prepare to govern Nigeria. Even that was too much for him to understand. He fastened his gaze on Daura…
MISTAKES: MUNDANE AND MONUMENTAL – 1
“A man who has made so many mistakes can’t afford to ignore the correction of his friends.”— Saul Bellow. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 161.
But first the man must know who his real friends are. For powerful people especially heads of governments knowing who the friends are might be their most difficult task. Few of their appointees are ever true friends because having a top flight job which can be lost for telling the truth to power makes it almost impossible for any of them to tell the President the truth at all times.
Buhari has made several mistakes which now threaten the nation’s unity; but none of his close associates will ever tell him. Instead, they either support him or attack those who oppose him. Either way, he does not get to know the truth. Two examples will illustrate the point.
In the Ekiti state primary election for selection of flag-bearer for the All Progressives Congress, APC, two candidates received a subtle sort of support from Buhari. Hitherto, Presidents and Governors had insisted that contenders for election must resign their appointment irrespective of party. Minister Kayode Fayemi and Special Adviser, Femi Ojodu were “given time off to campaign”. Questions include: whose time? As public servants their time belongs to the nation not the President. Was it fair to other contestants? Certainly not. This is mundane mistake but it is reflective of how shallow the thinking was when made. It might still have consequences.
One monumental mistake comes in the shapes of twelve World War II vintage aircraft sold to a gullible former army officer, not even Air Force, and asked to pay quickly. And he paid $496m!!!. Ask any experienced salesman and there are thousands in Nigeria. Any rushed sale involves a con game. You separate the fool and his money before he can think. Nigeria will long regret the rushed purchase of twelve planes from America. It was good Nigerian money down US coffers.