By Mohammed Adamu
SOME of his compatriots in the APC who suffer a conservative-reactionary malady about politics had untenably worried -over the plan to make Adams Oshiomhole APC’s new Chairman. But other non APC members too, especially those of the leading opposition, the PDP, had their worry also. They all wished that this grand design of the Asiwaju to re-enervate the leadership of the APC did not come to pass. The former, owing to their ideological affliction or their self-indulgence or both, feared that it would be retrogressive or counter-productive, or both for a radical-progressive in the mold of a combative labour activist to take charge of the affairs of their political party; and the latter, namely the arrowheads of the opposition PDP, admittedly owing to their prodigious partisan foresightedness, saw the plan to make Oshiomhole Chairman as the APC’s resolve, at last, to trade with the PDP every ‘Roland for an Oliver’ in the new phase of hostilities about to ensue in the build up to another electoral Armageddon after that of 2015. The APC seemed to be saying to the PDP ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and the hell let us all go blind and fangless!
And isn’t it true then that every dog has his day? Unleashing its effusively garrulous and egregiously cantankerous ‘junkyard dog’ –one reputedly as ravenous in caustic and acerbic language as he is rabidly so in venomous bites- was APC’s way of telling the PDP to ‘bring it on!’ Fang for fang, talon to talon! Pound-for-pound, toe-to-toe. Making Oshiomhole Chairman was, in fact, a way of telling Wadata Plaza that no political party has the monopoly of offensive language. Nor any, the monopoly of venomous bite. It was thus preposterous and ironic in a sense, that the PDP would accuse the newly installed APC Chairman of ‘playing the role of an attack dog’, rather than that of a ‘decent’ party helmsman; because –in actual fact- ‘playing the role of an attack dog’ was the intention of, and not the deviation from, the APC’s original plan. And to drive home that point, even if with a dose of biting sarcasm, Oshiomhole himself had no qualms publicly admitting he was enthroned to play that role. And so those pre-election puritanical rumblings of unwarranted partisan dissent within the PDP against the candidature of Oshiomhole for the reason that he had a corruption charge against him, and then the post-election suit filed by that party challenging the propriety of his election, were like the desperate remonstration of the ‘cowardly dog’ named ‘Courage’ protesting the selection of his opponent in an impending ‘dog-fight’.
Again it becomes utterly preposterous again to accuse the new Chairman of going about trying politically to wake every ‘sleeping dog’ up. Because the question then arises, what else should a poor innocent ‘attack dog’ -off the leash- do to live up to its reputation of an ‘attack dog’ if it does not do ‘attacks’? And more justifiably so, what should it do when there are lousy ‘sleeping dogs’ littered all over the place if it does not wake them up? Sleeping dogs in the midst of a hunting expedition should be roused to fall to occasion. But then they said that Oshiomhole’s combative, muckraking approach to partisan issues is the reason the APC is currently in such a mess –referring to the gale of defection from the party by some NASS members and a couple of governors. In fact, his predecessor, Oyegun has suddenly found his voice recently when he said that he handed over a well-knit ‘broom’ to the new Chairman, but that Oshiomhole has failed to keep it in its bunch. It is as laughable as an insistently ‘righteous’ Jonathan frequently alleging he handed over a ‘sound economy’ to his successor but that Buhari has collapsed it. but that is by the way. The irony is that whereas they are quick to remember to thumb Oshiomhole down for a political mutiny the seeds of which had been sown before his advent, yet they’ll not remember to credit him with some of the more momentous counter-defections that are currently taking place into the party.
Yet, it is to be expected that every novel move by a radical-progressive in the midst mostly of conservative-reactionaries will be deemed politically heretical; and as with everything he has done since coming to office, Oshiomhole’s somewhat bossy attempt -as Chairman of the ruling party- to corral and to compel political appointees of the President, especially ministers, to constitute the boards of federal agencies and parastatals under them –novel and progressive as this should be- was deemed no less heretical than his sudden obsession with, and imposition of, ‘direct primaries’ on the ruling party. And although this particular ‘heresy’ of the Chairman of a ruling ‘progressive’ party bossily breathing down the necks of their political appointees to do the needful, ran into troubled waters with the Labour Ministry’s Chris Ngige, it is still no less a commendable idea –even as un-orthodoxy as it may seem in our jaded democracy. Political parties should not only be there as vehicles for gaining elective or appointive offices, they should also be command observatories watching over and exhorting political actors to good governance, including recommending reward for it and appropriate reprimand for any lack of it thereof.
Yet, Oshiomhole’s most pleasant ‘heresy’ was in his courageous reply to the House Minority Leader Gbajabamiala’s recommendation that APC legislators who ‘refused to be enticed with money and automatic return tickets’ to defect to PDP, be ‘compensated for their steadfastness’, ironically, with APC ‘automatic’ return ticket; and that doing so in fact would not only be fair in the circumstances but that it would ‘broaden the gains of democracy’. Oshiomhole, again was brutally frank. The APC under his leadership, he said ‘would not impose candidates on their constituents’! nothing can be more radically progressive in a decadently conservative and reactionary system like ours. And the question arises ‘why must lawmakers be compensated for their own altruistic partisan conviction? Was it not sufficient that by their actions they were able to consolidate their loyalty to the party and thus deepening their privilege to re-contest and not their right to escape the ballot?’ By the way, if as they say that ‘virtue is its own reward’, why should the political ‘virtue’ of resisting the temptation to sell one’s conscience be rewarded with an opportunity to gain political office in gross spite of the electorate? Why should the due democratic process and the electoral will of the people be compromised to compensate politicians merely because they have resisted temptation to be bribed?
Severally, in previous pieces, I have quoted America’s Thomas Jefferson who once said “I know no safe repository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves…. and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” Meaning that the right of the ‘people’ in a democracy to ‘freely’ and ‘willfully’ elect or remove their governments is sacrosanct; and that at no time and under no guise should that right be abridged by any person, group or institution -even if it is for the reason that they may not be sophisticated enough to do so.
Should APC’s Oshiomhole be the only one to know some of these democratic necessaries? And be the only also, to jealously preserve them?