June 21, 2018

Gains and pains of the Nigerian Opposition

By Josef Omorotionmwan

Pius went to school in an era that predated the present day automatic promotion in public schools. His friends called him Olodo – a Yoruba word for an idiot. Yet, Pius had a clever way of respecting his failure.

He never made the mistake of pronouncing that he failed.

On the vacation day, Pius always came home without a result. When asked about his result, he took everyone on a frolic by reeling out the names of all those who failed without mentioning his own name – Peter failed, Paul failed, Samson also failed, etc.

Today’s Nigerian political scene is totally plagued with near-parallels of the Pius situation. That’s why politicians of the opposition persuasion would maintain that the President Mohammadu Buhari war against corruption is perpetually being fought with unequal universality. They speak with a tone that easily suggests that for every PDP member accused of corruption, an APC member must also be convicted; and for every PDP man questioned, an APC man must also be standing in the dock somewhere.

That way, the war will not be lopsided. Meanwhile, they forget to plead their innocence on the charges brought against them. Their only stipulation is that prosecution lacks equality of members of both parties, perhaps oblivious of the fact that access to corrupt tendencies also lacks equal universality.

There are some intrinsic gains in opposition. In atonement for past injustice, the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, has just received a posthumous Award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR, and his running-mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON. Congratulations!    .

Chief Abiola’s opposite number at that election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, is crying hoarse that the Awards are lopsided. He says he should also have been honoured. In a voice laden with equivocation, on the same page, Tofa hurries to the conclusion that if he was given the award, he would have rejected it. Why don’t you let those who want to accept the Award be?

And since when did the world start compensating failure? Nigeria is perhaps the only nation that attempts to compensate failure. Is that not what we do after every major election when INEC dishes out humongous amounts, in grants, to the so-called registered political parties – even the pseudo ones that do not have a single vote to show for their participation?. That’s opposition in action!

Imagine, then, if Prof Humphrey Nwosu, the erudite Professor of Political Science, who midwifed the June 12 Election, had the remotest connection with an obscure political party. By now, he would have been at the rooftops in the World Court at The Hague, shouting for injustice.

True, the end of justice shall not be truly served until Prof. Nwosu and other principal actors in the pro-democracy struggle have been commensurately compensated.

The truth is constant. It has taken 25 years for some of the vital truths to begin to emerge. Many had seen Ambassador Kingibe and other pro-Abiola politicians who went to serve in the Gen. Sani Abacha government as black-legs who abandoned the struggle. It is now clear that nothing can be farther from the truth.

It has taken a lucid explanation from Senator Jonathan Zwingina (Adamawa South), the renowned Secretary of the pro-democracy group, to inform the world that these men did not go on their own. It was by group consensus. Senator Zwingina informs that when some of them objected to going to serve under Abacha, MKO cried out, “If you are not there, when they will be discussing the issue of June 12, who will speak for me?” It was unknown to them that Abacha had a hidden agenda.

Some ask: By the time they knew, why didn’t they beat a retreat? Such must be totally ignorant of the working of the mind of a despot, a desperate one for that matter! Try being frank to a despot and you will soon find that there are limits to frankness. It might soon become clear that the life you are trying to protect can be cut short any time!

Saraki as metaphor for the opposition: Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. We have mentioned elsewhere that if the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, was a cocoa farmer in one obscure corner of Kwara State, nobody would have been asking of his asset declaration, talk more of under-declaration. Better still, if he had ascended to the Senate presidency via the approved route of his party, his travails would have been a lot less. In public office, provision must sometimes be made for the unexpected.

And, as they say, if you can’t stand the smoke, get out of the kitchen. If you decide to stay in the kitchen, you must obey the ground rules. In politics, every offence is personal to the offender. It is not a defence that you are being accused for a crime which the other person is committing every day without being questioned. They quickly hide under the nebulous term – use of discretion.

Wherever you are called, answer. Whenever you are invited, attend to the invitation. A leader must prune down the supporters’ club. That the Senate is shut down while all the Senators migrate to the courtroom any day Saraki appears in court is a big loss to the tax-payer and that in itself could also alienate you from the electorate.

Saraki suddenly finds himself in the privileged class of the few elite who are able to preempt arrest and prosecution. In his particular case, it has even transcended the level of what the psychologists call the self-fulfilling prophesy. This is a God-given attribute and it is good!

It is, however, reasonable to advise those who posses such powers of preempting arrest and prosecution to apply such preemptive powers to the superior use of avoiding what they are currently doing wrong.

In a political setting, the faction leader is constantly dinning with the enemy within. There is no alternative to his possessing an extra-long spoon – always!