By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
It’s effectively election season. Internally displaced and disaffected politicians are migrating like seasonal birds. Their flight paths are not new. Whatever they do to ensure self survival and fatten their bellies and pockets, they will pass off in beautiful patriotic colors. Jostling and shoving, everywhere, are getting vigorous.
The bruised pot bellied politician will say he took his fall for the common man. The conquerors will give the glory to God. Democracy and rule of law will be bandied about. And then trampled upon. Money will exchange hands in bags. Principles will be sacrificed, slaughtered for expediency. It is the routine.
This season has not disappointed. We are still stuck with only two living parties and their poverty of tradition and ideas. Neither the red card brigade, nor the rescue Nigeria mission has managed a life outside the newspapers and social media.
The PDP looks resurgent, filling up giddily with political refugees. Its only message is that the APC has failed woefully. The PDP is entitled to its celebration of the failures of the APC. But it must ready itself for the consequences of not selling itself, not bringing new ideas, to the electorate.
The APC is renewing its lethargic soul. It has a new vibrant chairman. It is steadying its gait after the shedding defectors. But it should not just preoccupy itself with rumble and tumble at the expense of clarity of thought and foresightedness. Its message has lacked conviction. It cannot ride on Change like it did in 2015. So it has settled for a more subdued: “Give us more time.” The PDP is no option. It is incurably corrupt.” The change the APC promised has come only in trickles.
But it’s election season. There is a choice before us. It is effectively a choice between two parties. We once rebuked the APC when it spent too much time reminding us of the past. We reminded it that it promised to change the past. Then the PDP enjoyed being exempt from scorching scrutiny. The PDP was a federal co-examiner with the people. But that season is over. It’s now election season. The PDP wants to be voted back to power. The PDP must resubmit itself, past and present, for exhaustive scrutiny again.
The APC is once again entitled to call up PDP’s past. The PDP aims to paint the shortcomings of the APC as exceptional, disqualifying. Yet it wants the electorate to remember nothing about its wasteful past. PDP leaders have taken to an easy life of hysteria. They mouthed repentance but haven’t shown contrition. They have adopted tabloid sensationalism rather than diligent articulation and explanation of their mission.
It is true the APC came to effect change. It is true the APC was expected to fashion a departure from the forgettable past. It is true the APC may not have achieved what it promised. But the electorate has a choice to make in 2019 essentially between two parties. And it can’t make it without clear eyed sober comparisons of the two.
Take for instance, the recent DSS invasion of the National Assembly. It was perhaps criminal. But PDP’s Senator Bruce said it was an unprecedented attack on democracy. He lost sense of proportion and announced he had been asked by our former colonial masters to compile the names of errant politicians. He would submit the names to the United Kingdom and the United States. President Trump and Prime Minister May would whip the offenders by revoking the entry visas of the offenders. Someone suggested that Senator Ben Murray-Bruce may have the temperament, instincts and perhaps complexion of a 1950 colonial district officer.
The invasion of the National Assembly by some masked men of the DSS is unjustifiable. The country was caricatured. If there was any imminent breakdown of law and order, routine policemen could have handled it. The clandestine nature of the operation betrayed its lack of innocence. The Acting President described it pointedly as unconstitutional and unacceptable. The Director General of the DSS was immediately sacked. But the picture painted by the hysteria that took place that day was that of truncation of democracy by the ruling APC government. That was the impression fashioned. The PDP members became champions of democracy and the APC senators were cast as coup plotters. One Boma Goodhead became the face of the struggle against tyranny. And Senator Akpabio who was in Uyo was portrayed by Senator Murray Bruce as the leader of the troops marching on the National Assembly to destroy democracy.
But we must bring out the scripts of 2014. Yes because the PDP is now asking for our votes again. So it must allow us review its records so that we can understand if what they now purport to be is borne of genuine repentance or sheer hypocrisy.
In 2014, President Jonathan Goodluck allowed his Inspector General of Police declare that Honorable Tambuwal was no longer recognized by the police as Speaker of the house. That was ordinarily treasonable. But the PDP legislators cheered. The police were not done. The Inspector General withdrew the security detail of the Speaker. He said Tambuwal had become an impostor. No one cautioned him. No one called on the United Nations. He took further steps. He deployed a lorry load of policemen and locked up the National Assembly. Federal legislators were shown on international media climbing fences and gates to get into the chambers of the legislature.
That Inspector General of Police faced no disciplinary measures. Commissioner M.T Mbu who had assaulted the governor of Rivers and was rewarded with a promotion was the Abuja Commissioner of Police then. Mbu lionized himself and was cheered. No one compiled a list of the enemies of democracy. No one submitted any names to the Queen of England for disciplinary measures.
The bad precedent of 2014 must have emboldened Lawal Daura. If Jonathan had acted like Professor Osinbajo, the ignoble feat of 2014 would not have been repeated in 2018.
We must never follow bad precedents. But we must never allow politicians entice us with their hypocrisy and sensationalism. We didn’t hear Senator Bruce or Boma Goodhead in 2014 when the NASS cried rape. It is good they have spoken up now. Wike was heard the other day lamenting the brazen attempt by a minority to impeach the Benue governor. He once engineered five members of Rivers House of Assembly and a lorry load of anarchists to upturn that sacred house. He can call out the evil in Benue. But our politicians must be reminded of history so that they may not lose sense of proportion while alarming the international community about the indiscretions perpetrated by their opponents.